Acrophobia and visual height intolerance: advances in epidemiology and mechanisms

  title={Acrophobia and visual height intolerance: advances in epidemiology and mechanisms},
  author={Doreen Huppert and Max Wuehr and Thomas Brandt},
  journal={Journal of Neurology},
  pages={231 - 240}
Historical descriptions of fear at heights date back to Chinese and Roman antiquity. Current definitions distinguish between three different states of responses to height exposure: a physiological height imbalance that results from an impaired visual control of balance, a more or less distressing visual height intolerance, and acrophobia at the severest end of the spectrum. Epidemiological studies revealed a lifetime prevalence of visual height intolerance including acrophobia in 28% of adults… 
3 Citations

Figures and Tables from this paper

The Effects of Virtual Height Exposure on Postural Control and Psychophysiological Stress Are Moderated by Individual Height Intolerance
Virtual reality (VR) enables individuals to be exposed to naturalistic environments in laboratory settings, offering new possibilities for research in human neuroscience and treatment of mental
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Fear of Heights: Clinicians’ Attitudes Become More Positive After Trying VRET
VRET for fear of heights was able to induce and reduce discomfort in clinicians and non-clinicians, and clinicians’ attitudes toward using VRET become more positive after trying VRET for themselves.


Visual height intolerance and acrophobia: clinical characteristics and comorbidity patterns
Abstract The purpose of this study was to estimate the general population lifetime and point prevalence of visual height intolerance and acrophobia, to define their clinical characteristics, and to
Visual height intolerance and acrophobia: distressing partners for life
The course of illness, the degree of social impairment, and the rate of help-seeking behavior was evaluated in a sample of individuals with visual height intolerance (vHI) and acrophobia. On the
Down on heights? One in three has visual height intolerance
The data show that the two terms do not indicate a categorical distinction but rather a continuum from slight forms of visual height intolerance to the specific phobia of fear of heights, considerably restricting the majority of these individuals in their daily activities.
Fear of heights in ancient China
The 80th chapter of the Huangdi Neijing Lingshu, the internal classic of the Yellow Thearch, provides a lively description of height vertigo, a well-known condition that manifests either as a specific phobia or, if less severe, as visual height intolerance.
Fear of Heights and Visual Height Intolerance in Children 8 10 Years Old
More than one third of prepubertal girls and boys exhibited susceptibility for visual height intolerance which - in contrast to the adult-onset type of the condition – appeared to take a benign spontaneous course.
Fear of heights and visual height intolerance.
This review aims to cover the different aspects of visual height intolerance such as historical descriptions, definition of terms, phenomenology of the condition, neurophysiological control of gaze, stance and locomotion, and therapy, and to identify warranted epidemiological and experimental studies.
Susceptibility to Fear of Heights in Bilateral Vestibulopathy and Other Disorders of Vertigo and Balance
The susceptibility to vHI in BVP was not higher than that of the general population (28%), which allows two explanations that need not be alternatives but contribute to each other: (1) Patients with a bilateral peripheral vestibular deficit largely avoid exposure to heights because of their postural instability, and (2) the irrational anxiety to fall from heights triggers increased susceptibility tovHI.
A New Questionnaire for Estimating the Severity of Visual Height Intolerance and Acrophobia by a Metric Interval Scale
The proposed short questionnaire (vHISS) allows a continuous quantification of the severity of vHI within a metric interval scale from 0 to 13 and can be established by including two additional questions, which differentiate well between persons with and without acrophobia.
Fear of heights: cognitive performance and postural control
Clinically, this preliminary study corroborates the hypothesis that vestibular physical therapy can be particularly useful in treating individuals with fear of heights, and confirms the presence of physiologic abnormalities compatible with the hypothesis of a non-associative acquisition of fear of height, i.e., not associated to previous traumatic events or other learning experiences.
Dizziness and vertigo syndromes viewed with a historical eye
Current knowledge of vestibular function and disorders dates back to the seminal work of a group of Nineteenth century scientists, e.g., Jan Evangelista Purkinje, Ernst Mach, Josef Breuer, Hermann Helmholtz, and Alexander Crum-Brown.