The anticipation of what may be the most severe weather event in the northeastern United States since 1903 looms heavy over the region in anxious wait. In fact, hours from now, the eye of Hurricane Sandy will be hovering over my New Jersey town after “she” slams into our nearby coast, approximately 50 miles due West. So, how could I not write about the tension in the air?
Excessive and irrational fears about the natural environment are common. Fears of thunder and lightening (astraphobia), rain (ombrophobia), and, yes, hurricanes or tornadoes (lilapsophobia), can cause significant distress. Unlike many of its situationally-based “cousins,” nature-based fears are essentially unavoidable, unpredictable (to a large extent), and imminent perceived threats to which the sufferer responds with physiological, cognitive, and emotional arousal. This internal activation is like an alarm being sounded (the fight-or-flight response) to alert the individual to perceived danger and prepare them, in body and mind, to effectively manage the problem. Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about this process.