Ocean Diamond

Thalassophobia is the fear of deep bodies of water, not of water itself but the fear of emptiness beneath the waves or being far from shore.

This primal fear may be an inherent part of the psyche, a developed evolutionary response that imprinted itself over time. As a civilization that often congregates around water, numerous mishaps would impose an inborn respect. Here, fear plays a role as a safeguard. It is also good to mention how Global floods that ravaged populations long ago may add to the evolutionary effect.

There are also many cultural influences and mythology that involve the sea. In certain religious beliefs, the sea is where disaster and punishment befall people, e.g. Noah’s Ark.

Movies like ‘Jaws’ also play on the theme, where Spielberg doesn’t show the killer shark but alludes to it throughout the film, maintaining the fear of what lies beneath the surface. Of course, the movie “Titanic” is an obvious example.

As a young kid, I carried a false memory of falling into our family pool, going to the bottom and looking up, waiting to be saved. I remember seeing a figure plunge in and take me out, a poignant vision; however, I learned it happened to my brother instead. Perhaps I had dreamt this in response to the unfortunate incident.

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, believed that certain universal archetypes, or hidden meanings, were features imprinted in everyone’s psyches, what he called the collective unconscious. In his studies, he regards water as an archetype of the unconscious, its unknown depths hiding our shadowy side deep within.

Often, psychological treatment involves exploring the depths of our mind to find the source of behavioural problems. In essence, to face our unknown selves, the part of who we are that lay beneath our constructed identities.

My fear of deep water might not be diagnosed as Thalassophobia, however, as the assessed mental disorder requires persistent, excessive and unreasonable fear, which is not valid in my case. A diagnosis also requires that I feel fear every time I am exposed to deep or open water. Again, this is not the case, as I have been on the open ocean before, even in threatening conditions. Here, I was more fearful I couldn’t find a bag to release my stomach into than the dangers outside the ship. And so obviously, it doesn’t interfere with the normal functioning of my life.

~ CJ ~