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The Tappan Zee Bridge, which was demolished in 2019, offered a service to help those with gephyrophobia cross

Gephyrophobia is the anxiety disorder or specific phobia characterized by the fear of bridges. As a result, sufferers of gephyrophobia may avoid routes that will take them over bridges.[1][2][3]

Some possible explanations of gephyrophobia may be the fear of driving off the bridge, the fear of a gust of wind blowing one off the bridge, or the fear that the bridge will collapse if they try to cross it (a fear that the bridge lacks structural integrity). The fear overlaps with acrophobia (the fear of heights) as gephyrophobia tends to be exacerbated in taller bridges as compared to those closer to the water or ground beneath.

Dr. Michael Liebowitz, founder of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, says, "It's not an isolated phobia, but usually part of a larger constellation ... It's people who get panic attacks. You get light-headed, dizzy; your heart races. You become afraid that you'll feel trapped."[1] It is a situational phobia.[4]

As of 2008, the New York State Thruway Authority would lead gephyrophobiacs over the Tappan Zee Bridge. A driver could call the authority in advance and arrange for someone to drive the car over the bridge for them. The authority performed the service about six times a year.[1]

The Maryland Transportation Authority offers a similar service for crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

The Mackinac Bridge Authority, which oversees the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas, will drive one's car across its span for any needy gephyrophobiacs. Some thousand drivers take advantage of this free program each year.[5] Leslie Ann Pluhar had her Yugo blown off that bridge.[6] Later investigation showed the driver had stopped her car over the open steel grating on the bridge's span and that a gust of wind through the grating blew her vehicle off the bridge,[7] although this is not supported by recorded wind speed measurements taken on and around the bridge at the time of the accident.[8][9]

The term gephyrophobia comes from Greek γέφυρα (gephura) meaning "bridge"[10] and φόβος (phobos) meaning "fear".[11]

In media[edit]

Gephyrophobia is the main plot in "The Bridge" episode of The Middle. The character Brick is plagued by the phobia.

In 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas, Lucy references gephyrophobia (albeit with a slight mispronunciation)[12] when attempting to diagnose Charlie Brown's problems at her psychiatric help stand.

The term is referenced in the 2012 book The Silver Bridge Disaster of 1967, an account of the December 15, 1967, collapse of the Silver Bridge across the Ohio River, connecting Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Gallipolis, Ohio.

Gephyrophobia is referenced in "The Car" episode of the second season of This Is Us.

In Halo: Combat Evolved for the PC and Xbox One there is a multiplayer map called Gephyrophobia, in which the main battlefield is a large bridge connecting two Forerunner structures in a Halo.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Foderaro, Lisa W. (January 8, 2008). "To Gephyrophobiacs, Bridges Are a Terror". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-08. Mrs. Steers, 47, suffered from a little-known disorder called gephyrophobia, a fear of bridges. And she had the misfortune of living in a region with 26 major bridges, whose heights and spans could turn an afternoon car ride into a rolling trip through a haunted house.
  2. ^ "Gephyrophobia: A Fear Of Crossing Bridges. Even Before The Minnesota Collapse, Many Have Severe Phobia About Bridges". CBS News. August 10, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-08. The monster she fears is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland. At four miles (6 km) long and 185 feet (56 m) high, Ayers says the thought of driving the bridge — with the way it rises straight in the air — raises a sense of panic in her.
  3. ^ "Reasonable fear or bridge phobia?". USA Today. August 8, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-08. Jerilyn Ross, a psychotherapist and president of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America, notes that phobias are more than just being afraid of a certain object; they are marked by panic. Someone with gephyrophobia is afraid of panicking on a bridge, not necessarily the bridge itself, she says.
  4. ^ Bragazzi1, Nicola Luigi; Del Puente, Giovanni (May 16, 2014). "A proposal for including nomophobia in the new DSM-V". Psychology Research and Behavior Management. Dove Medical Press. 7: 155–160. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S41386. PMC 4036142. PMID 24876797.
  5. ^ Tom Carr, Record-Eagle Archived 2013-02-16 at
  6. ^ Zacharias, Pat (June 6, 2000). "The Breathtaking Mackinac Bridge". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
  7. ^ Propson, David (October 14, 2004). "How to Build a Better Bridge". New York Sun. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
  8. ^ McGraw, Bill (July 8, 2007). "Mackinac Bridge Q&A". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  9. ^ "Accident Report Claims Ms. Pluhar Was Speeding". The Argus-Press. Owosso, MI. Associated Press. November 8, 1989. p. 20. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  10. ^ γέφυρα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  11. ^ φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  12. ^ "It's Not Just You, Charlie Brown : Gephyrophobia". Retrieved 2019-12-06.
  13. ^ Gephyrophobia_(Level) on Halopedia: The Halo Wiki