The Tech Herald

Agoraphobic uses Facebook to battle fears

by Steven Mostyn - Dec 30 2011, 14:42

Image: Facebook.

If we were a mainstream news service, the following story of technology-based bravery and accomplishment would certainly qualify as a closing ‘And finally…’ piece.

Specifically, an agoraphobic writer and novelist from Illinois has used the Facebook social network to overcome an irrational fear of leaving home to experience the world beyond.

According to 51-year-old ArLynn Presser of Winnetka, her fear of the outside world was so great in 2010 that she hated leaving the house, rarely ventured further than her home town, and was absolutely terrified of flying.

However, in order to battle her condition, Presser made a resolution on New Year’s Eve that involved traveling to physically meet all 325 of her Facebook friends before the close of 2011.

Although that target looks unobtainable as 2012 closes in, a hectic year of international travel has seen Presser visiting 288 of her ‘friends’ across 13 countries—racking up 39 flights in the process. She hopes to hit 292 before New Year.  

More than just an extremely effective way of combating agoraphobia, Presser’s global adventure also allowed her access to new skills and experiences. These included learning how to sing opera, mountain climbing, Zumba dancing, and even popping a champagne cork with a sword.

“It’s been good for me because I think therapy teaches you to rely on a therapist, and I think drugs teach you to rely on drugs,” said Presser in a Vancouver Sun interview.

“But if you’re afraid of something, and you face it directly, you realize that you’re relying on yourself,” she added. “Do one brave thing a day, and then run like hell.”

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