Felix Baumgartner Beat Claustrophobia in Record Sky Dive

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Claustrophobia Is One of Top Five Fears

The gold standard for treatment of phobias is cognitive behavioral therapy. A doctor might use an introspective approach, forcing claustrophobic patients to experience the physical sensations by making them breathe through a straw or spin in the chair.

It teaches patients to "handle" the feelings of claustrophobia, Wilson said.

"The work we do today is far less relaxation-based and more provocative," he said. "You take the hit and go through it, hanging out with it for awhile and learning to get out the other side."

Wilson, himself, experienced a claustrophobic incident after wrapping himself around a tree and injuring his knee while skiing off trail in Colorado as a young man. They strapped him on a stretcher, zipping him up in a mummy bag, head to toe.

"You are going head first down the hill in that mummy bag. I instantly got claustrophobia and could not tolerate it," he said. "I told them to unzip it so my head was exposed. From that little trauma, combined with the closed space, I couldn't tolerate it."

Like others with claustrophobia, to this day, Wilson cannot go skin diving or spelunking through caves, he said. "That's too much."

As for Baumgartner, "I'm retired from the daredevil business," he told the Guardian after his jump. "I want to find a nice decent job as a helicopter pilot. I'll fight fires and rescue people. No emails, no phone calls."

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