Thursday, January 31, 2013

Casadastraphobia – the Fear of Being Sucked into the Sky, and How That Can Label You





Why are some people eccentric, nonconformist types?

A big answer, for a lot of human behavior, is labeling.

There was a great Bruce Coville (My Teacher is an Alien) kids' book called Space Brat, which had that as the theme. If you say someone's a "brat" over and over, how are they going to act? How are they going to think of themselves?


In "Space Brat," an alien kid in a very impersonal mechanistic society, at birth got a bit of egg behind an ear, which made him cry with irritation. As a result, a caretaker robot stamped BRAT on his forehead, and that stuck with him until he really did live up to it. Like all of Coville's work, it's heavy stuff for a kids' book with a silly name.

With that in mind, I think part of the reason (not the only one) I became an eccentric noncomformist is because I got that label due to lots of people around me not understanding my reactions, because I had a fear I didn't even know was a real thing: Casadastraphobia.

Casadastraphobia is the fear of being sucked up into the sky. 


Okay, done laughing? It's a variation on agoraphobia. It was much worse when I was a kid, where I often got extremely nervous looking up after a long time especially on clear days, but what's interesting is, I don't even have a severe case of it: some people can't even go out to open air spaces like football fields, and some are so terrified they can't even go outside for fear of being sucked into the sky. Compared that poor soul, I'm pretty functional with a high ability to "deal."

In the hopes of preserving my now forever shattered reputation as a rational, levelheaded "down to earth" (no pun intended) guy with the ability to deal, I should point out the last time I had a very serious attack of this, a few months ago at a MetroRail station on a disturbingly clear, cloudless day, I fought off my anxiety about the situation by reminding myself in the billions of years of earth's history gravity has never reversed itself, and indeed, that would go against all the laws of universal gravitation, where the force of gravity is proportional to the product of the two masses involved and inversely proportioned to the the square of the distance. If you think I kept my mind busy by doing the math for two diagrams attracting each other, you obviously know me very well, except who the hell can remember the gravitational constant off the top of their head, even physicists?

Moral of the story: if a fear is not rational, you can fight it with rationality.



At my elementary school's weekly open field assemblies, kids used to regularly get helium filled balloons on their birthdays. Being fumbly fingered kids, we sometimes let them go until they floated into the sky. And boy, would I ever freak out. Watching balloons disappear into the sky in an open field is terrible for someone afraid of getting sucked into the sky, so there's no surprise I'd have a pretty major freakout.

I got a reputation in the First Grade as "that kid who's scared of balloons." People in other grades and classes heard of me. I was labeled a "weirdo" for having an uncommonly known phobia. Eventually, I had to leave that school for a variety of reasons, but the one they gave my parents was along the lines of, "hey, it's not him, it's us."


It's funny how some things can stick with you. Recently, I was reading the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, maybe the funniest and most readable book ever written by a president. What's absolutely strange is, there was this weird interlude where he talks about how, with obvious pain, as a nine year old he was tricked into buying a blind horse and became the laughingstock of the town. Here was a man who won the Civil War, defeated Robert E. Lee, and became president of the United States...who was still thinking about how people laughed at him for buying a blind horse from a sharpie.


Learning about casadastraphobia was an incredibly liberating experience. It's always a source of relief and courage to learn something you've always dealt with you assume is unique to you, actually has a name, and is something other people have.

It's also a source of incredible anger, too. The first time anybody ever called me an "odd duck" was when I became "that kid who was scared of balloons." And if people call you a weirdo over and over, how are you going to act? How do you think about yourself?


In the meantime, I'll take the advice some wiseass gave a lady asking for tips on dealing with their Casadastraphobia:

"Wear a ten gallon hat so you don't look up, and put glue on the soles of your shoes." 

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm french and i discovered the name of the phobia you suffered just today. Yes it is very reliefing to know i'm not the only one who suffered of it. ;)
In fact it was very bad when i was younger but since 1 year or two it almost completely disappeared. I fought against it with logic and rationality, not unlike you...

Anonymous said...

I've dealt with this phobia for as long as i could remember and always felt ashamed by it. It's not easy to explain at all to people so only very close family members know i have this and even thru them i have dealt with some ridicule. I have my good days but clear summer days in wide open spaces are hard to walk thru. I also love fireworks but its nearly impossible to watch. I always have to hide under a tree or something to enjoy comfortably

Nichola Kerr said...

Every now and then I get an overwhelming fear of gravity switching off. It's so good to find your article!

It doesn't happen all the time, but often when I'm up high (tall building or up a hill with a steep peak) or at night when it's a really clear sky. I get so freaked out I have to hold on to something or get in my car!

It happened tonight as we went out stargazing...creeping feeling of unease, then full on hold-on-to-my-car fear. My lovely man reminded me to think about it rationally, and I felt ok again. But what a bizarre feeling. I can see how it's linked to agoraphobia!

Wonder where it comes from!

Anonymous said...

I have it too! I have no problem looking down at all, but.......up is a totally different matter. Not that severe but it can be rough. The arch in St. Louis, I can NOT stand at it's base and look up with my chest against it. Huge mountains, oh boy! I went up Mt. Renier with a car in Washington state but I was lucky it was cloudy that day because it wouldn't done it, but it still was getting to me a little. Looking up very tall buildings and mountains makes my hands start to sweat and sometimes I feel like I'm going to faint. This phobia must be rare because no one knows about it and when I tell someone about it they usually laugh about it,

Anonymous said...

Exact same as me, I'm always finding myself pushing my chin into my chest like a panic attack of some sort, I can't look up at big buildings or see near on nothing upon the Horizon like walking across a bridge or seeing nothing but the sea, it seems to be getting worse the older I get

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one that has this RARE phobia. I tell you that I went to the fair one time and 90% of the rides I could not go on because of this phobia that I have. One ride I decided to go on (very bad idea) was the one that looked like a UFO and inside they strapped you down and when that thing spins everyone that is srtrapped down slowly is pushed upwards as well. Well tell you that totally triggered that phobia definitely and I felt like the sky was sucking me up and I was about to faint. I cured it by closing my eyes and in doing this it tricked my mind thinking I was on the ground " moving around" instead going upward if you know what I mean. Tall buildings, no way can't look up at them. I don't know what it is, a chemical unbalance or what but I can't overcome the fear of the sky or the fear,of looking up from low spot to an extremely high level like a mountain or very tall infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one that has this RARE phobia. I tell you that I went to the fair one time and 90% of the rides I could not go on because of this phobia that I have. One ride I decided to go on (very bad idea) was the one that looked like a UFO and inside they strapped you down and when that thing spins everyone that is srtrapped down slowly is pushed upwards as well. Well tell you that totally triggered that phobia definitely and I felt like the sky was sucking me up and I was about to faint. I cured it by closing my eyes and in doing this it tricked my mind thinking I was on the ground " moving around" instead going upward if you know what I mean. Tall buildings, no way can't look up at them. I don't know what it is, a chemical unbalance or what but I can't overcome the fear of the sky or the fear,of looking up from low spot to an extremely high level like a mountain or very tall infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

I hate this phobia but for me it's a bit different...instead of felling like I'm falling into the sky I feel that I'm sinking into the ground, therefore the wise advice won't work but in fact make matters much worse.Can I still classify this as casadastraphobia?

Anonymous said...

If I'm in a big gym I can not look up at a high ceiling or I get dizzy and feel like I'm going to faint. If I go outside on days that are clear being day or night I still get the same feeling. It's like a butterfly sensation in my stomach followed by nausea, dizziness and feeling like I'll faint. I have agoraphia already and it's getting worse. I can't look up at tall buildings or anything tall and high. It's almost like my fear of heights is taking over and the feeling of drifting into space.

Anonymous said...

Standing on a high place maybe a tree or building and looking down, I have no problem with, that doesn't bother me at all. Looking from the ground upward towards a very tall building, tree or mountain, NO WAY! I'm in an airplane and near an open window and the plane tilts with my window facing the sky.......shut the window and close my eyes. Can't deal with it. I feel like fainting. :(

Anonymous said...

Hello My name is Adrian and I am 49 years old and today I have found a name for my fear And I'm not alone apparently .haha it feels great too meet you all what a relief We are indeed a rare bunch I long too for a day when I can sit in a field and enjoy the summer sky without what I rationalise as an over awareness of the universe taking hold and ruining a perfectly ordinary Day in my life as a relatively rational perfectly healthy human being .I have no answers personally I wish I had some wise insights toward cure or comfort that might ease the fear,I jog and that helps greatly it's like a switch,the exertion kills the fear and resets the irrational to the rational,I don't drink alcohol excessive sugar and no caffeine at all .Well nice chatting and good luck sky people I believe in strength in numbers so keep talking too each other,more awareness more comfort and support ❤️��

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone! I stumbled across this forum after googling "fear of the sky" or "floating into the sky". I am relieved to hear that I am not the only one with this strange and terrifying phobia. I have went back and forth trying to figure out if this is some inner ear/vestibular thing or just a phobia. Still not sure. Maybe a bit of both.
I am 42 and I have had this for 13 years. Until recently, I was able to mostly avoid this by not being in stadium, bridge, highway, anything high, open fields or flying in an airplane. Then I had a very traumatic event happen 6 weeks ago. I have been experiencing this almost anytime I am out now. There are days that it is even difficult to walk outside my garage. I'm not driving much and when I do it is a struggle. I feel like I'm going to faint all the time. Very scary and very limiting. It's almost like I have some sort of PTSD that triggered or ramped up this phobia and the panic that follows.
I fully plan to get some help for this. I should have a long time ago. I have read about exposure therapy...and frankly that freaks me out! I have delayed treatment due to the knowledge that you have to subject yourself to the thing you fear. Not looking forward to that at all. I doubt many therapist's have heard of this phobia. At least now I have a name for it.
Thank you all for your comments. I hope you all overcome this.
Jen

Ronald Ritchey said...

Woke up from a nightmare concerning this fear. I always had it, but it was nagging, small, and inconsequential save for twlling friends I can't look up, tall buildings like the BB&T building in my city. A few weeks ago I watched a film, Patema inverted- trigger, but an explanation. I always have ised reason to soothe it but my nightmare, which involved going up an arch bridge and falling up at the crest woke me up, now i can't go back to bed. It actuallt comforts me to know there is a name, there are similar voices.

Ronald Ritchey said...

Woke up from a nightmare concerning this fear. I always had it, but it was nagging, small, and inconsequential save for twlling friends I can't look up, tall buildings like the BB&T building in my city. A few weeks ago I watched a film, Patema inverted- trigger, but an explanation. I always have ised reason to soothe it but my nightmare, which involved going up an arch bridge and falling up at the crest woke me up, now i can't go back to bed. It actuallt comforts me to know there is a name, there are similar voices.

Lizzie Walker said...

I can't believe I am not alone! It's not generally too bad, but being in the dentist's chair triggers me, and I have some work pending ... Nice to meet you all!

yahya hamze said...

I'm 14, I have this and it really sucks

Anonymous said...

I have suffered from this for over 25 years. It has only gotten worse over time. It used to be that going inside alleviated the panic and anxiety. Cloudy days offered a respite. Now I get stuck in obsessive thinking and loops in my head about it. Seeing a picture of a big, blue sky is enough to set off a panic attack. The only solution has been long term use of benzodiazepines, which if you are familiar with pharmaceuticals, is hardly a solution at all. I sincerely hope the future generations of therapists will come up with a non-chemical solution to this phobia since it is absolutely crippling. You can't get away from the sky.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have suffered with this for years. The triggers are usually being in high places under open skies. The symptoms are dizzyness and a sense of becoming disconnected from the ground. Unfortunately it is difficult to deal with, like most irrational anxiety disorders. I also get stage fright and vertigo at times, and I think the three are related. I find that diet and exercise help to some degree, I avoid coffee, limit alcohol and sugar. I also try to face my fears, so I will try to climb mountains and stand close to edges, even if struggling with a panic attack. And believe it or not, a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses help..

Anonymous said...

Oh, and yesterday I climbed to the top of Montana Blanca in Tenerife. 2750 meters and above the clouds. I nearly turned back twice when the fear took hold but I shouted it down..

Fear no more said...

Go to YouTube and check out Hardcore Christanity. They have a deliverence training channel which explains the true cause and cure behind these phobias. I've had this problem.since I was a kid as well as other issues. Hardcore Christanity House of Healing has done me an AMAZING amount of good!!