Magazine article USA TODAY

Severe Weather Fears Can Be Debilitating

Magazine article USA TODAY

Severe Weather Fears Can Be Debilitating

Article excerpt

John Westefeld, a University of Iowa associate professor of counseling psychology, has identified a condition that affects people particularly strongly - tear of severe weather so extreme d may be considered a phobia. He studied 81 individuals in an effort to understand why some people are so afraid of thunderstorms and tornadoes that even a weather forecast for as far as a week ahead can leave them prisoners in their own homes. Forty-six were women and 35 were men. They ranged in age from 22 to 74, with an average age of 47. The group represented seven states.

"l think everybody recognizes that some degree of anxiety at the approach of severe weather is normal and even beneficial. But there are people who are so debilitated by the thought of severe weather that they can't drive their cars or go to work or school. That extreme reaction has all the characteristics of a phobia."

The typical person with severe weather phobia is fine until the potential for thunderstorms and formal does is apparent. …

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