Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A New Yorker Faces His Phobia, One Stroke at a Time

Swimming truly matters. On average, 10 people unintentionally drown each day in the United States, according to federal statistics. Black children, historically less exposed to opportunities to swim, drown at a rate several times that of white children. A survey this year for the Red Cross found that more than half of Americans either cannot swim or have not perfected five basic safety skills, like being able to swim 25 yards. What, then, if you could not swim at all and were afraid to try? Phobias are commonly treated with a form of behavioral therapy that involves exposure to the source of the fear. Results are good. Swimming lessons are a version of this. Treatment tends to consume weeks or months, but who knows? Lars-Goran Ost, a Swedish researcher, developed a one-session phobia treatment. To stifle a phobia, you need to confront it. To defeat aquaphobia, you have to get wet. more

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