NBA Player Royce White Says ‘Hell No’ to 100 Flights

royce white

Royce White, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and fear of flying. His anxiety has become a major obstacle for furthering his career because NBA players must fly frequently to different cities to play basketball.

White’s own words describe best the intensity of his fear:

“One hundred flights would be like if you’re allergic to peanut butter – it’d be like spreading your whole body with it.”

Like most people with anxiety and phobias, White’s strategy has been avoiding planes and requesting to be able to travel by bus. However, being in the NBA means traveling great distances and that has many disadvantages. White’s anxiety is seriously jeopardizing his future in the NBA.

In 2012 White went public with his struggle with anxiety. Since then, he has become an mental health advocate. His public crusade is much praiseworthy as long as he doesn’t accept his anxiety as a permanent condition. However, after reading several interviews where he explains his anxiety conditions, it became evident to me that this 21-year old basketball player believes that anxiety and fear are unbeatable. Unfortunately, White doesn’t know that he can overcome his anxiety-related conditions once and for all.

And I don’t blame him.

White, like all many other anxiety sufferers, listens to what ‘experts’ tell him. In numerous occasions I read psychologists explain that you cannot overcome anxiety, and that you must live with it for the rest of your life. The best they can do for you is to teach you a set of coping skills.

No wonder then that people like Royce White have given up. I wish I could let White know that I can help him banish his anxiety and fear of flying once and for all. White would better defend the rights of mental health sufferers in sport and elsewhere by overcoming his anxiety-related problems. This way he can give hope to other phobic and anxious people that that there is a solution.

Online Self-Help Programs for Anxiety Disorders

If you suffer from anxiety issues, you know that the internet is filled with sites that offer CDs, DVDs, eBooks and other programs for treating anxiety and phobias. Their promise of quick cures for anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, and a host of other anxiety related conditions is very appealing to someone that has suffered for years and is willing to try anything. But you should watch out for claims such as ‘instant cure’, ‘guaranteed results’, a ‘revolutionary technique’, ‘natural’, ‘exclusive’, etc.

First, consider that all the CDs, DVDs and self-help manuals are based on obsolete theories. They will give you advice that you already know. Second, even if the recommendation are sound, the nature of anxiety and phobia dictates a very strong resistance to change. This is very important to consider. Your resistance does not mean that there is something wrong with you or that there is no hope for you to free yourself from this problem.

On the contrary, if there is no resistance to change, then you do not have any anxiety or phobia. Therefore, just listening to a CD or reading a manual that tells you what to do, cannot neutralize this resistance. You have to realize that not even experienced therapists know how to handle and overcome such resistance. Some even dismiss you saying, “You are too resistant. I can’t work with you. You don’t want to change”. They don’t know that you do want to change. It’s just that you don’t know how. It is their task to help you with this resistance. However, most of them don’t even know that the resistance, as I said, is an unavoidable factor in anxiety and phobia related problems.

Put plainly, these programs do not work and they are a waste of your money. However, more important than your time and your money there is a more serious consequence. The most dangerous outcome of these programs is that, they create in you a feeling of frustration. Not only they are useless, they make you think that you are a difficult case.
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Why the Traditional Model of Psychotherapy is Ineffective

traditional psychotherapy

One of the problems with almost all psychotherapists is that they try to help you based on the theories of their respective school of therapy. Constrained by their invisible framework, such psychotherapists explain and interpret your fear and anxiety from their theories of reference.

This means that your problem (and all its accompanying symptoms) have to match their model of a disorder; leading to two subtle but important realities with dramatic consequences. First, if you, with the help of the therapist search for the ‘why’ of the problem, the finding would always be ‘presumed causes’. This means that the so called causes were in actuality constructed by their adopted theories and their respective school of therapy. Another problem appears when they interpret your fears and anxiety in the light of their theories; the building blocks of your problem are distorted. Again you and your fears and anxiety must match their theories.

People who always keep asking ‘why’ are like tourists who read the guide book while they are standing in front of a monument; they are so busy reading about the building’s history, origins and so on that they don’t look at it.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

When discussing fears, phobias and anxiety, it seems logical to ask what is at their root. But at the heart of such inquiry lies the assumption of a linear relationship between cause and effect. From this lineal way of thinking, in order to solve a problem it seems necessary to go back in time in search of the cause. And since the cause must come before the effect, one must investigate the past.

However, this traditional model has become obsolete. More than a century ago the fields of physics and natural sciences have undergone a major change replacing lineal cause and effect with a circular one. Scientists like Einstein, Heisenberg, Bateson, Maturana, Prigogine and Watzlawick (among many others) have contributed to dismissing the old and obsolete linear causality and adopted the circular one which is more in harmony with contemporary understanding of reality. However, most schools of psychotherapy have attached themselves stubbornly to traditional models of mind and behavior.
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