Fear of going to public places

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

I Can't go outside my room

One of the readers sent me a message saying that he gets panic attacks whenever he gets outside of his house. He told me that to solve this problem he started avoiding crowded places and that this solution worked.

After avoiding places with large groups of people the attacks disappeared but he was annoyed because he still feels trapped and worried about the possibility of encountering new attacks.

I answered him with questions that confused him a bit, "What if avoiding places with large groups of people was the goal your mind was after? what if those panic attacks was the tool your mind was using to reach its goal?"

The main reason so many people fail to understand psychological disorders is that they think of them as illnesses. But the moment you start to look at those disorders as strategies your mind uses to achieve certain goals everything becomes clear.

Understanding psychological disorders from a different angle

There are two important things you need to know about psychological disorders in order to understand them perfectly.

The first is that the subconscious mind might do something that harms you thinking that its actually helping. In the case of the reader friend who sent the letter his subconscious mind was too worried that he wouldn't be able to act confidently in crowded places and so it tried to prevent him from going there by sending him panic attacks.

The second thing is that the panic attacks themselves were just a tool that his mind was using to fulfill its important goal of letting him avoid people.

Now everything is perfectly in place except one thing. The mind can't really tell a person that its too afraid that he would mess up in front of people as this might hurt his emotions so there has to be some kind of a convincing story to fool him with.

"A guy i know was stabbed to death in a public place and this is why i fear them"
This is a perfect example of a story that seems rational and that would prevent our friend from wondering why he gets panic attacks in public. But as you might have already guessed the panic attacks have nothing to do with that story and the main reason they happen is that our friend has a self esteem issue.

Fear of going to public places

If you are afraid to go to public places or even get out of your room then you must ask yourself those questions:

1- What is the goal my mind is trying to achieve?
2- Is the story i am telling myself real?
3- What are my real fears?
4- What might happen if i went outside?
5- Is my mind deceiving me?

Those questions will give you an insight on what's going on. It takes a lot of courage to admit that there are other reasons that your mind was trying to hide from you.

Of course the reasons might be different in each case but the strategy will always be the same. Diverting your attention with a story that seems real to hide the real thing from you.

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