Literally translated, it means "place dizziness," and it was coined in 1870, a couple of years before agoraphobia for the same cluster of symptoms. Around the same time, doctors elsewhere identified American Civil War combatants who suffered from "irritable heart" and Inuit who suffered "kayak angst." Of all those terms (and many more boring and impenetrable terms), why did agoraphobia the most common? It seems the least accurate to me. It's not so much fear of the market or open spaces as it is fear of having a panic attack in public spaces without escape or where an escape would be embarrassing.
Apparently, Pan, the god of flocks and shepherds, used to descend out of the blue to scare the animals, shepherds and nymphs. How perfect that the root of the word panic ties us to our animal side, the fight or flight response. I've started reading Wish I Could Be There: Notes From a Phobic Life by Allen Shawn. On the one hand I want to feel proud of how well I've overcome my panic and anxiety, to recognize just how large an accomplishment that is. Shawn has suffered his entire life, despite considerable insight into his condition. "A phobia is like a pain in the soul," he says. On the other hand, Shawn discusses how chronic, long-term stress (like, oh I don't know, early, sleep-deprived motherhood?) can eliminate phobic symptoms, although they often come back if and when the stress is removed, so it could just be a matter of time. And then again, this phenomenon was documented in WWII concentration camps, and I hate to liken motherhood with Nazi concentration camps.
I'm only 50 pages in, and I see myself in every page.
Quite a while ago, Niobe challenged folks to write a blog post in the style of another blogger. This post started as an attempt at mimicing her style, but quickly devolved into typical Sin. Sorry.
Weekend Reading: The Trying to Rally Edition
4 days ago