The word phobia derives from the Greek phobos meaning fear and is used to describe a psychological disorder in which there is a compelling fear or dread, especially of a particular object or situation. More specifically, phobias are considered to be extreme, abnormal fears or aversions to such things as crowds, heights, animals, etc.
The more common phobias are an exaggerated fear of those things that many people fear to some extent, such as illness, death, snakes, heights etc. Specific phobias are fears that inspire no fear in the normal person; for example, agoraphobia, fears of buttons, frogs, clowns...the list is endless!
Sigmund Freud was especially interested in the phobias of early childhood: fear of being alone, fear of the dark, fear of small animals, thunderstorms, etc. He theorised that these were linked to an innate preparedness against real dangers that is so well developed in other animals. However, if such childhood phobias become fixed, grow more intense, and persist into later life, then they represent internal conflicts and require professional treatment.
Imagine that you are on holiday and you have to cross a rope bridge. This bridge crosses a river. As you approach the bridge, you look down. Your knees begin to feel a bit shaky and your mouth is dry. Is the bridge really safe? That's anxiety! You begin to cross the bridge. Halfway along, you hear a creaking sound. You look round, startled. A group of people are also beginning to cross. The bridge sways precariously. The river below seems a long way down. You are half way across, too far to turn around. What if the bridge breaks you fall into the water? That's fear! If you had a phobia, however, you wouldn't be on the bridge at all. In fact, you wouldn't have taken the holiday if you knew you had to cross a bridge.
There are literally thousands of phobias, here are twenty-four...
|Dogs or rabies||Cynophobia|
|Names or a name||Onomatophobia|
|Riding in a car||Amaxophobia|
|Urine or urinating||Urophobia|
|Writing in public||Scriptophobia|
|X-rays or radiation||Radiophobia|
Phobias respond well to a number of treatments. We can offer the following...
Hypnotherapy is particularly effective, as we can rationalise that the feared object will not harm us, but the subconscious response is that of real terror! As many phobias are 'locked in' during childhood, we have learned an inappropriate response. Hypnotherapy is an efficient tool in alleviating phobias because it can communicate with these unconscious processes. Learning to relax and managing stress is a fundamental step in treating phobias. Systematic desensitisation is a behavioural method to deal with phobias. A list of fearful stimuli is created (SUDS - subjective units of distress scale) and therapist and client gradually climbing up the ladder of fearful stimuli, while applying relaxation methods, in order to eliminate the phobic response. This hypnotherapeutic method is safe way to use systematic desensitisation without exposing the client to the 'real' phobic stimuli. It includes establishing a hierarchy of fearful stimuli, relaxation techniques and gradually confronting the fears using imagination, rather than 'in-vivo' (real life) confrontation, which is not always practical. Clients are provided with recorded hypnosis sessions to practice with and are also taught self-hypnosis.
Neuro Linguistic Programming is often employed to treat phobias. It is particularly helpful for public speaking fears, and the 'fast phobia cure' really is just that - a quick and effective way in treating phobias, particularly those that are caused by a single incident. NLP does not involve a 'formal' trance state.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy focuses on slowly and safely exposing a person to the feared situation or stimulus. This is called an exposure-based treatment, which involves repeated approaching of the fear-provoking situation or object until it no longer produces a strong fear reaction. CBT also examines the maladaptive coping strategies and distorted thought patterns that surround the fear.
Emotional Freedom Technique involves tapping on specific acupressure points on the face and body. Although it must be taught by a qualified therapist, it is a technique you can use yourself. Safe and effective, it can be an intriguing way of overcoming your fears.
EMDR is also very effective treatment for people suffering from phobias--extreme fear of flying, water, spiders, etc. Because EMDR has the power to relieve any type of emotional block or fear, it can also be used to enhance the performance of athletes, actors, musicians, students, public speakers, and executives.
The EMDR technique uses a natural function of the body, rapid eye movement, or REM, as its basis. The human mind uses REM during sleep time to help it process daily emotional experiences. When disturbing experiences happen, they are stored in the brain with all the sights, sound, thoughts and feelings that accompany them. When a person is very upset, the brain seems to be unable to process the experience as it would normally. Therefore, the negative thoughts and feelings of the traumatic event get "trapped" in the nervous system. Since the brain cannot process these emotions, the experience, and/or their accompanying feelings, are often suppressed from consciousness. However, the distress lives on in the nervous system where it causes disturbances in the normal emotional functioning of the person. The EMDR Technique does two very important things. First, it "unlocks" the negative memories and emotions stored in the nervous system, and second, it helps the brain successfully process the experience.
Our popular masterclass in anxiety panic & phobias next takes place on Saturday, Sunday & Monday, 4-6th April 2009. Learn how to offer safe, effective and rapid treatment using both hypnotherapy & CBT. An extremely comprehensive course. Which covers emetophobia, avoidant paruresis, adjustment disorder, dental phobia and childhood anxiety. Includes some innovative and effective techniques for panic attacks. More at www.hypnotherapyuk.org.uk.