WHAT IS IT
A phobia is defined as an irrational, persistent and intense fear of an object or situation that poses little or no actual danger. At first glance, a phobia may seem similar to a normal fear, but it’s is the degree to which a person is affected that determines whether that fear has become a phobia. A person is then compelled to avoid it despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous.
A significant percentage of the population suffers from a phobia of one type or another. From elevators, spiders and birds, to heights, dentists and open spaces, there is nothing we can’t develop anxiety or phobias about. For some individuals it can be mildly distressing but manageable. For others it can be seriously debilitating.
A fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
Each person’s symptoms are a little bit different. However, at least some of the following symptoms will be present during a phobic reaction:
- Dizziness, rapid heartbeat, trembling, or other uncontrollable physical response
- Sensation of terror, dread or panic
- Preoccupation of thoughts; inability to change focus from the feared situation
- Intense desire to flee the situation
The result is a loss of confidence, feeling of loss of control and frustration all of which can ultimately lead to a low self esteem and feeling stuck. People with phobias will either go to great lengths to avoid whatever it is they fear, or they will tolerate it with considerable anxiety. For some people, a phobia can trigger panic attacks. In severe cases the phobia can end up literally controlling a person’s life.
Happily, hypnosis provides an extremely effective treatment for many individuals with these problems as it provides the opposite to anxiety – deep relaxation – while teaching the mind a different way of responding to the feared object or situation.
Hypnotherapy works by accessing the underlying cause of the phobia and eliminating the person’s conditioned response to the stimulus. When hypnosis is used to treat a phobia, the initial goal of the hypnotherapist is to discover the initial event from which the phobia developed. The cause is often a traumatic event which occurred at an earlier time in the person’s life. Often the phobic individual does not remember this event. It may be a memory which has been repressed for many years. Repression is a protective mechanism our mind utilizes by keeping memory of the trauma out of our conscious mind until we are ready and able to deal with it.