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Old Sep 9, 12, 3:41 pm   #1
 
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TSA induced panic attacks

Before the checkpoint, I had a full blown panic attack. In this instance my heart beat at a very strange rythym.

After a looooong day of travel, as I was about to board the final leg, two TSAs stood after the gate, on the walkway to the plane, and put on blue gloves. One snapped them.

Just from that, I had a full blown panic attack.

Just sharing...
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Old Sep 9, 12, 3:44 pm   #2
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Originally Posted by littlesheep View Post
After a looooong day of travel, as I was about to board the final leg, two TSAs stood after the gate, on the walkway to the plane, and put on blue gloves. One snapped them.
Didn't one of the people claiming to be a TSA employee here lie about how they're "trained" not to do that?
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Old Sep 9, 12, 4:43 pm   #3
 
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I had TSA induced insomnia for months after the groping started, around November 2010. I was a very frequent flyer before that. I slowly started sleeping better when I started taking Amtrak.

The symptoms of TSA trauma are, imagine that, quite similar to the symptoms of sexual assault trauma: fear, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, difficulties in relationships, nightmares, flashbacks, nausea, depression. After the TSA abused me, I was never the same person again.

I still haven't been able to quit flying entirely, but I wish I could. It hurts, it really does, to hear John Pistole say that women experiencing sexual assault trauma are complaining about "an inconvenience". He's truly an inhuman monster.
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Old Sep 10, 12, 8:34 am   #4
 
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I hate this crap as much or more than anyone here but what gets me through this is to just think in x amount of time I'll be at x doing x & having fun & they will still be back at a dismal checkpoint grouping people

Works for me Give it a try.
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Last edited by coachrowsey; Sep 10, 12 at 8:34 am. Reason: correct typo
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Old Sep 11, 12, 7:47 am   #5
 
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I had it happen not too long ago in Cleveland. I dropped my keys as I was getting in line. A TSA agent snapped at me for "not looking after my belongings" as I bent down to pick them up. Then I lost my usual calm demeanor and started trembling. As I got in the MMW scanner, the agent said, "Jesus Christ, stop shaking!" I would have liked to have turned him in, but I wanted to get as far away from that checkpoint as possible to collect myself.

Looking back, it wasn't really a pathological panic attack. I was being attacked in a verbal and psychological sense. My own visible anxiety was a normal, adaptive, human response.

There are so many reasons why the TSA consciously or subconsciously elicits anxiety. There are crowds of other passengers, so there is already a sense of claustrophobia and social anxiety. Many of the staff can be rude, demeaning, and inappropriate. There is the sense of being judged "guilty until proven innocent." And there are many metaphors to the Holocaust: guards talking about "selectees," a guard deciding "which line" to will be sent, and involuntary radiation and immodesty.

In other words, a "panic" response is actually normal.

Preventing this reaction is difficult. It requires a lot of work. I drug myself with benzodiazepines, which sort of helps. I choose lines carefully, and verify tsastatus.net. I also do whatever I can to distract myself: think of a song, a movie plot, anything I can think through in my head. If there are cute babies in the line, I always stop and say hello. I'll still be profoundly anxious, but these measures help.

I can't not fly (Sorry about the double negative.) So I work to tell myself, "I speak up, I write to the legislators, written an op-ed in the newspaper, but I also recognize that I cannot control the TSA. I have to deal with some form of acceptance."

I made the mistake of talking with a shrink about it. He gave me an, "anything for security" response, and talked about how grateful he was to be pulled out of line and get frisked in public. This is not a man I would trust.

Somehow, somewhere, I dream that there are TSA administrators and staff with compassion, who realize that they are inflicting an undue level of stress and suffering to many. I like to think that just one staff member or official recognizes that the TSA's behavior is damaging and painful.
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Old Sep 11, 12, 7:56 am   #6
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I like to think that just one staff member or official recognizes that the TSA's behavior is damaging and painful.
Wishful thinking.
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Old Sep 11, 12, 9:04 am   #7
 
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There are numerous passages among the patdown complaints from November/December 2010 released recently that describe the serious psychological effects of patdowns. Mats, OP, and others, you are not alone - yes, trauma and distress are completely normal reactions to the TSA's despicable assaults.

Caution: triggers. Read more here: http://tsanewsblog.com/5927/news/pat...nd-flashbacks/
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Old Sep 11, 12, 12:08 pm   #8
 
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I made the mistake of talking with a shrink about it. He gave me an, "anything for security" response, and talked about how grateful he was to be pulled out of line and get frisked in public. This is not a man I would trust.
There is a lot of denial among shrinks about this problem, I think. It's not all shrinks, though. Your guy was out of line, talking out of his own denial, ignoring your distress. I wouldn't give up on it, and maybe try a woman next time.

Your normal avenues of defense and response are blocked. Normally, faced with violence, unpleasantness, assault or threat thereof, you might:

Fight back, verbally or physically.
Scream.
Walk or run away from an assailant or agressive person.
Call for help.
Walk out of the place.

Here, you can't. You could in theory walk out, but it would be after a huge confrontation, under threat, with no help, to no help waiting, and would be impractical if you need to reach a far destination especially one that's over water.

You're helpless. And this helplessness in face of assault is backed by the law and condoned by society. A blue gloved hand can touch you there and you cannot protest.
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Old Sep 11, 12, 1:09 pm   #9
 
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Well put, littlesheep.

When one is under assault physically or psychologically, the "flight or fight" response is an autonomic function from the hypothalamus. It is extremely difficult to modulate one's affect, behavior, and inner thoughts when these human instincts must be suppressed.
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Old Sep 11, 12, 5:57 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by mybodyismyown View Post
There are numerous passages among the patdown complaints from November/December 2010 released recently that describe the serious psychological effects of patdowns. Mats, OP, and others, you are not alone - yes, trauma and distress are completely normal reactions to the TSA's despicable assaults.

Caution: triggers. Read more here: http://tsanewsblog.com/5927/news/pat...nd-flashbacks/

thank you for posting this. I am having panic attacks and anxiety often in the airports now. it's real. It's taking a huge toll on me.
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Old Sep 12, 12, 12:44 pm   #11
 
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I had a panic attack after my last TSA experience, just after I got through the checkpoint. It was so horrible that I honestly thought I was going to die in the airport and wouldn't let my husband leave my side for ages. Luckily we always arrive pretty early for flights so I had time to get over it and was fine by the time it came to boarding the plane. But it left me pretty shaken and spoiled the start of my holiday.

I am now terrified of going through an airport in case the same thing happens again. Unfortunately we have to fly in less than two weeks - we moved to the US before the xrays/gropes, but now our visas are about to run out and we have to leave Absolutely dreading it and it's the same airport/terminal as the last one which makes it worse (I was fine flying back from my holiday - Kona airport is very different to LAX!)
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Old Sep 12, 12, 2:42 pm   #12
 
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I have nightmares caused by physical pain which is the result of a lifelong chronic illness. The night before I have a flight from a US airport, the pain nightmares invariably involve the TSA (perhaps as a result of two actual incidents in the past where they caused me so much pain that I almost fainted, and I have a high pain threshold)

I fly at least once a week in 'rest of world' and never have those dreams about screeners in other countries and don't have those dreams the night before I fly from other countries.
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Old Sep 13, 12, 2:19 pm   #13
 
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It is interesting. I myself have anxiety about many things in life but never about TSA. I am not a psychologist, but I assume such mental responses exhibited by previous posters (e.g., panick attacks) may arise from catastrophising the encounter with the TSA prior to the actual encounter. Unfortunately, it seems that this sub-forum only "helps" people work themselves up when it comes to dealing with the TSA, thus increasing their anxiety further.

Just to clarify things: I dislike the TSA just as the majority on this forum, and I request pat-downs if the time permits. It just happens that TSA encounters do not induce physiological "fight-or-flight" response in me.

I would recommend the OP and others suffering from the TSA-induced anxiety to consult with your psychologist. This type of anxiety can be treated by the same methods that any other forms of anxiety are treated.
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Old Sep 13, 12, 6:08 pm   #14
 
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I would recommend the OP and others suffering from the TSA-induced anxiety to consult with your psychologist. This type of anxiety can be treated by the same methods that any other forms of anxiety are treated.
Thanks for the advice. I'm a doc myself. The correct treatment for this condition, apart from ameliorating the symptoms the usual way one would with panic attacks, is removal of the underlying cause - the TSA in its current form.
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Old Sep 13, 12, 7:16 pm   #15
 
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I totally agree with you. People are over medicated as it is.The only way to handle a panic attack is to get rid of what causes it.

Plus then they will have another issue on their hands. Trying to get medication through the check points.

Plus I think we should not have to be medicated to fly. That is stupid, insane, and so on.

Last edited by essxjay; Sep 13, 12 at 7:19 pm. Reason: readability
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