What are Phobia and Fears?
Phobias and fears are among several anxiety disorders, which also include panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder.
A phobia is a persistent irrational fear of an object or a situation that is generally considered harmless. Accompanying the fear is a strong desire to avoid the feared object or situation and, in some cases, an inability to function in normal, day-to-day activities.
Phobias And Fears Hypnotherapy – Can it help?
Treatment for phobias and fears is based on a dual approach using hypnotherapy and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Hypnotherapy may help you to learn how to create a greater state of calmness and control, while CBT is widely used to help develop the ability to replace anxious thinking with more measured and relaxed thoughts. This in turn may lead to better control over behaviour, and instances of “avoidance”.*
Common phobias include:
Specific phobias, including: enclosed spaces (claustrophobia); animals, particularly spiders, snakes or mice; heights, flying, water, storms, tunnels and bridges.
Social phobia: more than just shyness, social phobia involves a combination of excessive self-consciousness, a fear of public scrutiny or humiliation in common social situations, and a fear of negative evaluation by others.
Fear of public places (agoraphobia): Most people who have agoraphobia developed it after having one or more panic attacks. Agoraphobia is a fear of being alone in a place such as a shopping centre with no easy means of escape if a panic attack should occur.
Fear of Dentists (Dentophobia):
Dentophobia is surprisingly common – interestingly more so among adults than children. This may well be because of the rather primitive equipment and offhand attitude to patient care that many adults may have experienced in their early years when visiting the dentist.
Of course things have moved on a great deal since then, and treatment is almost entirely pain free these days. However, the trauma of those early experiences will often resurface whenever a visit to the dentist is imminent, often resulting in extreme anxiety, panic, or a decision not to attend.
What does having a Phobia feel like?
Having a phobia may produce the following signs and symptoms:
- A persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity or situation
- An immediate response of uncontrollable anxiety when exposed to the object of fear
- A compelling desire to avoid and unusual measures taken to stay away from what you fear
- An impaired ability to function at normal tasks because of the fear
- Often, the knowledge that these fears are out of proportion with the stimulus
- When facing the object of your phobia, an experience of panicky feelings, such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, avoidance behaviour, difficulty breathing and intense anxiety
- In some cases, anxious feelings when merely anticipating an encounter with what you fear
The Need for Fear
So, do we need fear? The answer is an unqualified ‘yes’. Without fear, we wouldn’t know when to employ the defence mechanisms we have. But this is not the whole story.
How many times have you heard a winning sportsman say, ‘Then the adrenaline started to flow and I was on a roll’. The same applies to performers, in the theatre, the movies, on television or on stage. Even seasoned veterans will admit to ‘stage fright’. In this context, the adrenaline rush and the knot in the stomach are performance boosters, without which the performances themselves would be very lacklustre.
In reality, there is a close link between fear and excitement. Were this not the case, there would be no audience for horror movies; no one would want to go mountain climbing or motor racing. Frequently, this is taken to extremes: people go hang gliding, snowboarding down near-vertical slopes, bungee jumping, or potholing.
Given that (in the main) no one is strapped, screaming, to a hang glider or dragged by force to the movies, there is clearly a demand for fear stimuli.
This might seem to undermine the notion of the sane, rational individual’s not courting danger unnecessarily. However, you will notice that none of these pastimes involves certain injury or death-just a varying level of risk. The variable concept is the perception of risk and this is an individual perception.
Stunt performers, for example, would not jump off a ten-storey building without being secure in the knowledge that their landing device will allow them to land safely. However, the rest of us, even if we had that knowledge, don’t have the experience and would be unlikely to want to try the stunt. Generally speaking, there appears to be a specific level of anxiety, which allows us to perform well in any situation. Too little fear makes us blasé and we could put ourselves in danger through being careless or over-confident.
Too much fear can make us preoccupied at least, or clumsy, or even paralysed with fright. Naturally, the ‘ideal’ level of fear varies from person to person.
I provide phobias and fears treatment at all my practice locations – in North London in Highgate, in Radlett (Herts), in South Woodford in East London, and also from my City of London (Bishopsgate) practices.
If you would like to arrange a FREE initial consultation to discuss how hypnotherapy and CBT for phobias and fears might help you, please contact me on my direct line: 0800 246 1838 or by getting in touch here.
*Disclaimer: As is common in therapy, results may vary from individual to individual and no specific outcome can be promised or guaranteed. Your therapist will however, endeavour to accomplish the objective of your sessions to the best of his ability.