Fear is a very natural, ancient and universal emotion – it causes our bodies to react when we are in a situation which is or could be dangerous to life or limb. However, when we experience that emotion when there is no real presence or threat of danger or when we try to avoid situations or flee from that which could lead to the experiencing of the emotion, then we have what is called a phobia. Many phobias are seen as completely irrational to people who aren’t suffering from them – but can induce very real anxiety, palpitations, dizziness, breathlessness and full-blown panic attacks if you are a victim of one.
So what really distinguishes fear from phobia? A phobia can be described as being persistently afraid over an extended period of time. Phobias interfere with one’s everyday life or daily routine. For example, if your fear of high places prevents you from crossing a bridge to get to work, that fear is irrational. If your fear of open spaces (agoraphobia) means you can’t go out of the house to pick your kids up from school, that is irrational. If your fears keep you from enjoying life or even preoccupy your thinking so that you are unable to work, or sleep, or do the things you wish to do, then it becomes irrational.
Some fears are rational (e.g. guns) or innate (snakes) as they can cause us harm. Fear of spiders may also be innate as we are all descendants of our African ancestors where there are poisonous spiders that can kill. But as there are no indiginous poisonous spiders in the UK, the fear is irrational and therefore a phobia.
Phobias are learnt reactions through direct negative experience, by watching others show fear and through repeated warnings. Fear of dogs is often learnt as a response to being bitten by a dog as a child, after which the victim not only fears the dog which has bitten him, but all dogs; claustrophobia often develops as a response to being trapped in a crowded or confined space for a significant length of time and fear of clowns as a response to the possibility of deveoping the gaudy, exaggerated hands, feet and facial features which are so alien.
Hypnosis for phobias detaches the trigger from the negative emotional response and replaces it with a more realistic response. In essence, you can regain your quality of life and be confident in the knowledge that your phobia will be well and truly under control.
The first stage is to ensure you can relax completely and rebuild your confidence so that you can feel that it is you who is in control of the situation, not the situation in control of you! We will then work with your subconscious to reprogramme it into accepting that the fears and phobias you have are not as dangerous to you as it currently thinks they are and its current way of behaving is inappropriate. By mentally practicing approaching these fears and phobias in your imagination whilst under hypnosis we will create a new set of behaviours and emotions to allow you to remain calm and relaxed when the real situation occurs.
There are occassions when it would be helpful to find the root cause of your fears and phobias. Under hypnosis, we can use age regression therapy to access your earliest memory of the situation so that we can tackle the excessive response which your subconscious has created. This is a very succesful technique which has been shown to lead to very positive, life-changing outcomes in many situations where a single trigger has created many difficulties.