PBCSD: Post British Car Stress Disorder

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a brother-in-law who is neurotic. He thinks that if you drive on the highway for an hour, you have to let the car idle for half an hour with the hood up when you get to your destination. This is a man who also shakes his carbonated beverages before he opens them. Please tell my brother-in-law that neither of these practices is necessary. -- Nancy

TOM: Wow, Nancy. This guy needs professional help. He's obviously suffering from PBCSD: Post British Car Stress Disorder. He must have spent his formative years driving something like an MG.

RAY: Yeah. He's obviously been traumatized by driving cars that were prone to overheating, and now he can't drive a real car across town without having flashbacks and leaving the hood up in the driveway for half an hour. He needs help!

TOM: We've had some success treating this disorder with cognitive behavior-modification therapy. It's similar to what they do for people who are afraid of flying.

RAY: You start by taking him out in a nice, reliable Nissan and driving him around for 15 minutes. Then you show him that the car hasn't overheated and caught fire yet. Next time, you drive him around for 30 minutes. And you slowly increase his time in the car until this fear of calamitous engine failure begins to subside.

TOM: You can do this, Nancy. Just take it a step at a time. And whatever you do, don't let him near an Alfa Romeo or a Renault. He may get retraumatized and set back his recovery by years.

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