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"Confidence" courses used by schools & other institutions (i'm not talking about those used by the military or law-enforcement) work mostly on exploiting people's natural fear of heights - rope bridges, jumping across platforms on top of poles etc.
They are challenging because they are physically
demanding & have real potential for danger. Accordingly they have many disadvantages; they require expensive land & equipment to set up, have seasonal usage, and leave their operators open to lawsuits if a participant hurts themself.
I propose a different kind of confidence course; that would be indoors and pose absolutely no physical danger whatsoever (and participants would be fully aware of this).
The challenges are purely psychological... and all the more scary because of that. Some would exploit the fear of the dark: crawling through a pitch-black tunnel or maze (lined with soft materials) that starts off at floor level; sliding down a 'funnel of no return' into a completely black hole - that only falls a few feet onto a mattress (but you don't know that until you actuallly do it). Other challenges would be designed by cognitive scientists using optical illusions - walking across a floor that appears to be a narrow bridge over a deep crevasse, perhaps created by mirrors on the floor & ceiling.
Your rational mind knows it's completely safe, but your 'primitive' mind overrides this & sets your heart racing.
There are of course cheesy fairground sideshows that attempt this (hall of mirrors etc), but they are only a bit of fun & all over in a few minutes.
I want something more serious & grown-up, that takes maybe an hour or more to complete and scares the sh*t out of you!
Exploratorium: Tactile Dome
Dark place with different textures on the walls of a windy, narrow path. Get a reservation. This does pose serious problems to claustrophobiacs; if you want to try, there are people standing by with flashlights to get you out if you freak out. [jutta, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]
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||I suffer from fear of flying, and am almost certain that a simulated flight
would not recreate the same anxiety I feel during a real flight. I wonder
if it would be the same as people with fear of heights walking over a
simulated bridge. Especially when you say that the participants know that every
undertaking is simulated.
||The science museum in St. Louis, Mossouri, USA has an enclosed breezeway that spans a highway and joins the two halves of the facility together. On the floor of the breezeway is a small glass window, maybe 1.5' (.5m) square - just big enough for one person to stand on.
From a reasonable distance it looks like a hole in the floor. When you're near it, you can tell it's maybe 6" of solid glass, but you mind still balks at the thought of standing on it. It was a lot of fun to watch people get close, then bend over to look at the traffic passing underneath. I made myself stand on it, but only after testing it with one foot. Frankly, I think these sorts of things should show up in more places.
||I went to an art show somewhere in Australia once where one of the exhibits consisted of the visitor lying down on a board and being held out of the window up in a high building. It was perfectly safe and very exciting.
So, I would like this idea as art, but not as a "confidence course"/self-help thing.