Fears & Phobias
A phobia is an irrational fear, literally a fear without good reason, or a fear of something that may not happen. People with phobias often experience unwanted responses to animals, objects, insects, actions or places.
This physical response may be described being paralysed with fear or having butterflies in your stomach. People with phobias often know their response is irrational, which makes it harder to accept.
Phobias are far more common than many people realise. It is estimated that more than 11% of the population have some kind of irrational fear.
The most common phobias seen by hypnotherapists are:
- Fear of flying
- Social phobia
- Fear of insects
- Fear of heights
- Fear of needles
- Fear dentists
- Fear of pregnancy
- Fear of water
An irrational fear of something is a learned behaviour, sometimes from a parent or a respected friend or relative. It is part of the body’s natural defence system: often phobias are exaggerated fears of evolutionary memories; imprints on our brains that help protect us through caution, making us innately awareness of something that could harm us.
As a small child we learn about fears from our parents, as they teach us (consciously and unconsciously) how to live and relate to the world around us. If you see your parent being frightened of a spider, your instinctive response and the message hardwired to your brain is that this is a threat and can harm you too.
Over time, when you see a spider that message is reinforced, so it is exposure to that fear which compounds it and makes it worse.
How do you treat phobias?
Generally, the solution is to see that phobia in a different context starting from an objective perspective and then gradually building up exposure from a minimal to comfortable level.
Using hypnosis this can be done rapidly as the unconscious is able to process information more effectively without the interference of the critical mind. This is a known as desensitisation.
Often phobias can be treated in just one session. There is, however, no guarantee as change depends on the individual’s willingness to embrace it.