The Houston Rockets drafted Royce White with the sixteenth pick in the 2012-2013 NBA season. I’ve watched Royce play a few times and consider him a player with immense potential. Royce has been troubled by a General Anxiety Disorder that includes a fear of flying and heights. I have compassion for Royce and what he must face each day. An anxiety disorder can truly burden one’s life, but with proper care and patience, its effect can be minimized. I have admired Royce’s game from afar and hope he can one day showcase his amazing talents over a full season. Royce has brought national attention to General Anxiety Disorder and his willingness to confront and address the issue has inspired me to better understand these fears and how clinicians help patients cope and overcome.
A phobia is an intense fear disproportionate to the danger. Physicians and therapist explain that claustrophobia is often connected to the fear of flying. These experts associate the fears with flying to certain triggers, such as turbulence, take-off, landings, terrorism, crashes, social anxiety, etc. They add that many people who have this phobia obsess they will become overwhelmed with anxiety during the flight. They note that these panics typically surface between the ages of 17-34, around the time of a significant life change like birth, death, marriage, graduation etc.
Treatment to help overcome the phobia includes exposure to the triggers that exacerbate the fear. As one noted physician on the topic explained, “Avoidance keeps the phobia alive and intense” Addressing the anticipatory anxiety associated with taking the flight is an important part of the treatment.
I imagine Royce has surrounded himself with many of the best therapists in the country to help him through this difficult time. Royce is a special ball player and I truly hope he can overcome these struggles so he can the life he wants and play the game he loves the way we know he can.