I think you are right, Paul. Learned disability - and it's almost impossible to correct in later years.
I see the same in my HS science classes. Elementary computations, numbers make them look like the deer in headlight...They ARE afraid. The ones that are not are either my ESL students who recently moved to the US or "math kids." And please, we don't do anything higher than what in Soviet schools would count as 6th grade... Maybe even 5th.
It's just that immediate "I don't get it" as soon as the numbers are involved.
I think the psych term for this phenomenon is learned helplessness.
According to this woman, it takes about 5 minutes to induce learned helplessness in a 20-year old.
Unfortunately, the teacher ends up saying girls are specific victims of learned helplessness.
I'm pretty sure the person operating the camera doesn't agree.