UPDATE 8/28/12: Joe Thompson, the young British boy stranded in the UAE due to an overwhelming fear of flying, has yet to leave the country as he is now afraid of all types of travel, reports The National.
"Joe’s in an emotional mess and needs help," his father Tony Thompson told Daily Mail. "Until then, we’ll have to remain here...It could now be weeks or months before we’re ready to try again to get him home."
Multiple attempts at leaving the UAE via land routes and a shot and flying with Thompson sedated proved fruitless, and only stressed the boy more. "With all the discussions, dramas and changes of plans, Joe simply lost it, and won’t get in any form of transport," said the elder Thompson to Daily Mail.
At one point, Thompson "had another massive panic attack, hyperventilated and lost the use of one of his hands as the blood supply was diverted to his breathing, and said he could not face the long journey," reports This Is Somerset.
Thompson, 11, is receiving treatment for an anxiety disorder in Dubai and is planning to return to his school in Al Ain.
PREVIOUSLY 8/21/12: A young British boy has developed a phobia of flying so paralyzing, it has left him and his father stranded in the UAE for about six weeks, CNN reports.
Joe Thompson, 11, was set to relocate to the UK from the UAE with his family, but he has been unable to board a plane without panicking.
"Everything just went horrible for me," Thompson told CNN about trying to fly. "I just went into body lock down. I kept on crying. I sat down and I couldn't move. I just couldn't do it."
Despite having once loved to fly, he has tried to fly home unsuccessfully four times. Hypnotherapy, psychiatric consults and even a sedative injection at the airport medical center have failed to alleviate the problem.
With no other options, Thompson and his father Tony will be driving and sailing the whole way home. Thanks to the help of the Saudi ambassador in London, the pair have been granted visas to travel through Saudi Arabia, allowing them to avoid the most dangerous areas in the region: Baghdad, war-torn Syria and the pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden.
Their route will take them through Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Amman Jordan to Haifa, Israel where they will board a ferry to Europe. It's expected to take them 12 to 15 days.
According to HuffPost blogger Nick Ortner, "as many as 40 percent of people experience some level of anxiety about flying." He explains how to use a method of Emotional Freedom Techniques to alleviate the fear of flying.
For a more high-tech recourse, a program called iPilot helps travelers to take control with the help of a professional pilot and an Airbus A320 flight simulator.
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