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Different neurochemistry - Journal of Omnifarious

Mar. 29th, 2008

02:54 am - Different neurochemistry

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I was talking to someone about an upcoming flight that was going to be a very long flight. She was telling me that she had tranquilizers and was quite anxious about the whole thing, partly because it was going to be for so long.

I was quietly stunned. It was like being in an alternate reality. I can sort of see how being in that situation would cause so much anxiety for someone that they would want tranquilizers to deal with it. But in reality it's a totally foreign mental concept for me. It would never even occur to me in thinking about the flight that I would get anxious from the inactivity. I went on a trip to Australia once, and it was a 23 hour flight. I was totally unconcerned with this fact, and it wasn't a problem for me.

OTOH, thinking about going through the security checkpoints makes me feel nearly physically ill. I have a negative amount of trust for the authority involved in that kind of thing, and I have a really hard time placing myself in a position where it can be so easily exercised over me.

And that's really interesting to me. It's yet another data point on why some people who are using illegal drugs of various kinds are self-medicating for mental states they don't know how to do anything about that are not appropriate or comfortable for the situations they're in. Not that my friend was using illegal tranquilizers, it's just that her situation reminded me of that.

People are the same, except when they're different. And some of the differences are really fascinating.

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From:geothermal
Date:March 29th, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
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You might subtly suggest to them that hypnotism cds have proven to be cheaper than tranquilizers. Worked for my mom. The hypnotist created a cassette just for her and she listened to it during take off and landing. Probably they make mp3s for the iPod now. Anyway, that's my 2 pesos.

Jonathan
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From:omnifarious
Date:March 31st, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
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That's an interesting idea, and I might suggest it to her at some point. Thanks!

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From:mightyj
Date:March 29th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
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I understand her completely. I hate hate hate to fly. I'm not afraid of it, in fact I love the take offs and landings and watching the cities below. What I hate is the lack of control and the confinement. When you get on a plane, any plane, you are totally at the whims of the flight crew. They won't let you off until they are good and ready. I've had flights that sat on the tarmac for 3 hours and worse. As a result I avoid flying like the plague.
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From:omnifarious
Date:March 29th, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)
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I think that's exactly the source of my friend's anxiety. I figure that if I'm ever stuck on the tarmac for a long period of time I will call and say that I'm being kidnapped.

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From:klicrai
Date:March 29th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
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I think a lot of that also has to do with a person's lifestyle. I imagine that a computer programmer, who's used to sitting behind a screen for hours and hours at a shot would have a much easier time with the confinement involved in a 23 hr flight than, say, a construction worker.
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From:omnifarious
Date:March 29th, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
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Well, that might be true, though I then wonder how much of a person's lifestyle is based on what kinds of situations they find tolerable. In this case though, she works as a high-level troubleshoooter, tester and computer support person.

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From:goldfish42
Date:March 29th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
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Well, I'm flying to Australia this Summer, and I'm frankly worried. I love to fly, but the last couple of times I've been on a plane I've been in excruciating pain from the immobility and the uncomfortable seats. I'm bringing as many pain-killers with me as I can (Australia has some restrictions I need to check on,) and I fully intend to take advantage of the free drink (alcohol is a great muscle relaxant.) I also bought a neck pillow. It's not the emotional conditions I'm worried about for myself, it's the physical ones.

But since I'm travelling with a high-energy kid, I can't just knock myself out. I have to be able to take care of him. And that adds a situation that I am anxious about as well.
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From:omnifarious
Date:March 31st, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
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*hug* That is tricky. You might try explaining things to one of the flight attendants. I bet they'd be willing to offer some good suggestions or actual material assistance of various kinds.

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From:goldfish42
Date:April 2nd, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)
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I chose Qantas over Air New Zealand (even though it was a little bit more) because they are very kid-friendly. They give out activity packs, and frequent snacks, and have little screens in each seatback with movies and video games and interactive trivia stuff. They encourage walking around on the plane to stretch your legs, and have more bathrooms and more comfortable seats. I love flying, but I'd still rather be semi-unconscious for most of this flight, in my current state of health. Oh well.
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From:kresentia
Date:March 30th, 2008 08:51 am (UTC)
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I'm with you on the security now-a days! That is the main reason I don't fly. I don't like the assumption of guilty until proven innocent that seems to be the norm of security. I don't like the irritation of taking off my shoes/clothes/whatever. I don't like my own phobia of "Oh god, what did I forget in my purse that is going to make them stop me and humiliate me." Or at least annoy me. And I at least don't have some people's hang-ups on modesty - I know someone who FREAKS OUT if someone has to touch her/pat her down, where as I just don't care. (Hooray for the Grind and cuddle piles!!!!) Do I mind anything after I get past that? Not really. I've been to Europe a few times, I've been to Africa, I've been flying across the US since I was born. I have my books and I actually sleep well on planes (Ironically planes and cars are the ONLY places I fall asleep instantly. Go figure....). Have I not flown just to avoid security? Yes. It's not fear, just annoyance. But I try to drive only now because I hate what dealing with security does to me, what it brings out in me. I like being a mellow good natured person and I try hard to avoid situations where I can't be/won't be allowed to be that.
All of that said I very much see the point that was made by someone else (I can't read the names in the blue backgrounds! Sorry!) that maybe a normal active person would have a harder time with long flights than someone used to just sitting. Makes a lot of sense to me.
Plus, I've never really felt a sense of control over my life in general so the idea of it being an issue to others to have no control over a plane flight is something that never occurred to me. I feel really odd now, am I the only one that this problem never occurred to before?
All in all, we all need to cope. As long as you do it without harming others (and drugging yourself on flights may be what it takes to not harm others! Lol! I've flown with those people!) I don't see the problem. You just have to think through what will harm others. Getting drunk home alone is one thing if you can't cope, getting drunk at a bar then driving home is another. (Or taking pills and driving, or being knocked out in an emergency row of the plane, or....)
Too much babbling. Over now.
(Did you like my shorter paragraphs this time? :) Sorry, just couldn't stand to do bullet points!)
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From:omnifarious
Date:March 31st, 2008 01:31 pm (UTC)
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I do indeed appreciate the shorter paragraphs. *grin*

The thing that most intrigued me about it all wasn't necessarily that she had a different view on a common situation than I did, but how it seemed that her view was so deeply wired.

It's like discovering that some people actually enjoy putting themselves in situations where their chance of dying is lots higher than it might otherwise be just because the excitement and risk really appeal to them. I can understand that way of being by just sort of assuming that those kinds of situations are appealing to some people, but it's never something I could internalize and make my own.

For example, I might choose to go hang gliding because the idea of learning that much about the subtleties of how air currents work would be really interesting. And the kind of view and experience you get is unlike any other. But choosing to go hang gliding because it's risky? I could never claim that as a motivation. I can understand, on an intellectual level, that some people are motivated by risk seeking, but I don't think I will ever understand on a gut level.

And it's not like I have a value judgment about risk seeking behavior or anything like that. It's like knowing, intellectually, that women and some men find men to be sexually attractive, but knowing that I never will and never will really understand.

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From:kresentia
Date:April 1st, 2008 09:13 am (UTC)
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I have to admit, I find it a little bit funny that my reaction to your response is, I suspect, a little like your reaction to the incident that started the conversation. I guess my empathy is high enough that I don't remember having had the experience of not "getting it" when it comes to people in the way I think you're expressing. I think I may be doing the "You don't? Huh?" thing! Lol! Or maybe it's just that I so fluidly accept things like those examples that it has never occurred to me to try and get it or not get it. I'm not sure which... Odd.
I guess I'm just a freak. :)
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From:delijoan
Date:March 30th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)

psychology

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anxiety is indeed interesting. i get anxious about things conditionally; the most obvious example to me is that it's easier for me to clean my apartment if i'm alone rather than with my housemate in. (i REALLY don't like the way i go about doing it criticised, but i could care less if people tell me it's not clean enough. (i wouldn't care either if they said it was TOO clean, but of course that never happens.)

when it comes to flying, i'm fine with it. nothing to do? isn't that what video games are for, or reading, or writing? if it's slightly turbulent, it's like riding at an amusement park.

sitting still? see above.

i don't believe in hurrying; i'll get where i need to go eventually.

meanwhile, yes, the added security i've not had the 'pleasure' of encountering directly. that sounds like a bother, not to mention demeaning. not anxiety-producing, but annoying, possibly angering. i'm glad i'm not going anywhere anytime soon.
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