Phobias Related to Elevators

Elevators are a common trigger for claustrophobia and agoraphobia.


Agoraphobia is the fear of being trapped in a situation in which escape would be difficult or impossible should a panic attack occur. Those with agoraphobia typically avoid “clusters” of related situations, and many people with agoraphobia have no problem with elevators at all. Nonetheless, an elevator would be difficult to escape, and it is not unusual for people with agoraphobia to avoid elevators.


Claustrophobia is defined as the persistent fear of enclosed spaces. As a relatively small and confined box, it is easy to see how an elevator could cause a claustrophobic reaction.

But, can the brain be tricked to ignore the fear if the reward center get’s trigged?

One paper says, yes.
In this experiment two patients suffering from elevator phobia volunteered to undergo food and water deprivation for 24 hr as part of the therapeutic approach. Food was then given during a 35-min exposure session in the elevator. Both patients reported great reduction in their fear and were able to take elevators in all situations. A second, booster session was administered 2 weeks later. During 2 yr of follow-up, there has been no recurrence of elevator phobia in either patient.