is a phobia?
The dictionary definition is: -
The dictionary definition is: -
can elaborate on this definition too. We know it is not a
“mental illness”, neither is it a sign of weakness.
Phobias affect all types of people in all walks of life.
are different degrees and forms of phobias. It may surprise
some people to learn that phobias can be formed around
literally anything. One of the questions I ask my clients
during their consultations is whether or not they suffer with
any irrational fears or phobic responses. About 60% of people
I see will have something they dislike or fear. Of that 60%
approximately 50% of those people will name spiders as the
number one dislike. I point this out because if spiders
trouble you, it may help to know that you’re not alone!
Public speaking and social situations follow a close second.
It may help others to know that people can develop phobic
responses to everyday things like cotton wool, balloons,
rubber, for instance. The list is endless. If you’ve been
worried about seeking help with your phobia, please be assured
that these problems are extremely common (approximately 10% of
Western populations), and usually respond very
readily to a short course of treatment. Most of us will have a
natural fear response towards snakes, sharks, heights,
crocodiles, spiders, etc…anything which is (or is perceived
to be) potentially life threatening. A phobia is simply an
extension of this natural defence system to an object of focus
where the response pattern is neither necessary nor helpful
(and is usually therefore classed as “irrational”). This
illustrates that far from being some kind of exotic
affliction, phobic responses are actually a very natural part
of being human.
are phobias created?
can think of your mind as being both conscious and
subconscious. There is a part of your mind that thinks,
deliberates, and rationalises. This is your conscious
mind….your intellectual mind if you will. Then there is your
subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind operates
instinctively, emotionally, and automatically. This is the
part of your mind which makes your eyelids close automatically
when there is an explosion in order to protect your eyes. This
instinctive part of the mind can be considered to be quite
primitive in its nature since it was the first area of
consciousness to develop. Since survival is any organism’s
first priority, then the primitive instinctive responses to
danger will always override the intellect when the organism
(you) is threatened.
Now, if we are unlucky enough to experience an event in our lives which is extremely stressful or frightening, then the subconscious mind can “read” that stress and fear as danger. A connection is made by the subconscious mind in light of the overloaded stress levels that the event or object in view must be something which is life threatening and this creates a template which is then stored in the subconscious mind for future reference. Now, anytime we are faced with a similar situation or object, the powerful instinctive mind recognises (pattern matches) the apparent danger and delivers a powerful fear response designed to remove us, or prevent us from entering, the situation.
is the panic a phobia sufferer will experience. Sometimes,
however, an incorrect connection is made, and this is how
people can retain phobic templates around apparently harmless
objects. The stress (perceived danger) levels at the moment
that they were focused on that object were high enough to
create the template, but the source of the stress may well
have been something else. The subconscious mind being a
non-deliberating mind simply makes the connection between what
is in sight and what is being experienced, and assumes that
the object or situation in sight must be the source of danger.
Once this connection is made, it is difficult to remove it
unless you know how to do so, since it is considered to be
essential to survival that the template remains in place for
future reference. This means that the matter is closed as far
as intellectual intervention is concerned. Since the responses
are instinctive, they override the intellect (our sense of
control), and anyone who has ever experienced these feelings
will know that they can be extreme and refuse to respond to
can also form slowly over time too. A vague concern can become
an increasing worry as time passes. The same process of
formation applies, but the template here is formed by repeated
worry rather than a single event. The subconscious mind
responds to what we think. Sometimes, we can create a phobic
response simply with the power of our imagination…..simply
put… we worry too much! The subconscious mind sees little
difference between what actually IS and what we IMAGINE is.
So, if we begin with a vague sense of concern about something
and then go on to worry (imagine negatively) over and over
about that something, then we are effectively sending a
message back to the subconscious mind that this is something
to be worried about! If it’s something to be worried about,
then, the subconscious mind sensibly assumes that it must be
dangerous. If it is dangerous, then it requires a response
pattern which will ensure that we do not enter the
situation…and there we have the fear. A phobia is born.
clinically, one can speak of all kinds of phobias, I find it
helpful to simplify into two broad categories. A “simple”
or “specific” phobia is a phobia such as fear of flying,
or fear of snakes. As long as one avoids going on an aeroplane
or travelling to the desert, then by and large, apart from the
inconvenience of not being able to do these things, the phobia
has a limited impact on that person’s life. One can easily
avoid the phobic stimulus and lead a relatively normal life.
The phobia really is strictly limited to one particular area
of concern. Anxiety created generally in day to day life by
such a phobia will usually be minimal and in most cases can be
treated quite easily in a three session programme. (See Fear
of Flying-Click here)
there are more complex cases. Phobias such as emetophobia,
which is a fear of vomiting, can have a major impact on a
person’s life. An emetophobe will worry constantly about
running into somebody being sick, and this can result in not
wanting to or not being able to leave the house. Agoraphobia,
which is the fear of going outside….of open spaces and
crowds, is common and obviously debilitating. Often these
types of phobic responses are advanced and have been
compounded over and over by repeated anxiety. In these cases,
there is likely to be a high level of generalised anxiety, and
it is necessary therefore to take some time to reduce the
level of generalised anxiety before attempting to remove the
phobic template. Depending on the seriousness of the
complaint, one might expect to use between five and ten
sessions of hypnotherapy to tackle this kind of phobic
response, since essentially there are two jobs to be done
here. Often, in a case like this the actual problem is anxiety
generally, which has become “focused” on the phobic
response, though it may not be obvious that this is the case.
Each case must be assessed carefully according to the context
of the problem.
good news is that all phobias are treatable. A simple phobia
can be easily treated in a three session programme. The
process involves reducing anxiety generally, disempowering the
negative charge held around the phobic response template
(using advanced effective NLP techniques), and then finally,
replacing that template with a new image/perspective of the
object or situation in question. This is a thorough approach
which contains all of the necessary elements for success. If
you have understood from reading the above how powerful the
imagination can be in learning negative responses, you will
follow the logic then that we also use the imagination to
unlearn those responses, to learn positive responses instead.
Essentially we are showing the subconscious mind that there is
another way to deal with those situations which have been a
source of concern, which is both effective, safe, and
infinitely more pleasant. Your subconscious mind is your
friend and protector, but its current belief is that the
situation in question demands a fear response to ensure
survival. This is a misunderstanding. Using hypnosis however,
it is possible to communicate much more directly than usual
with the subconscious mind, and we are therefore able to
demonstrate that there is another much more effective way to
outlined above, if the phobia (anxiety) has spilled out into
life generally, then it is necessary to ensure that the
subconscious mind is returned to a place of feeling “safe”
about life again before it will be willing to relinquish
control to the intellect as far as the object of the fear is
concerned, so here we will need to work on anxiety generally
before addressing the template directly. This is also true for
people with “simple” phobic responses who are very anxious
generally. This is work well worth doing however, and it
should be noted that these things cannot and will not be
rushed….not if you want to do the job properly.
information offered here is a basic understanding in
principle, but is by no means exhaustive of what we know about
phobias and their successful treatment. Hypnotherapy is a very
safe and effective way of addressing problems with phobic
responses. It is much quicker than desensitisation methods
which involve you taking tiny steps to get used to your fear
and overcome it by repeated controlled exposure.
Desensitisation methods do the same thing that hypnotherapy
does but in a much slower way…essentially drip-feeding the
message to the subconscious rather than just coming right out
and showing it directly. The programme I use is as thorough as
one needs to be and includes the NLP techniques you will
undoubtedly read about elsewhere, but also has the added
dimension of re-framing which is essential for success and
often overlooked by other therapies. As with all of the
treatments I offer, the emphasis is on understanding, and self
empowerment. I aim to ensure that you have a thorough
understanding of your problem…..it’s origins, it’s
continuation, it’s healing, and of course, most importantly
how to prevent similar problems occurring again in the future.
If you would like to come in to discuss your problem with a view to getting started with treatment, then please contact me to arrange a free initial consultation.
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