Fears & Phobias

A person with a phobia can be said to have an extreme or irrational fear of, or aversion to, something. A fear becomes a phobia when we change our lifestyle to manage the fear. If that phobia is linked with something which can be easily avoided e.g. rats, then it is rarely a problem. But if it is a fear of, perhaps, flying, then it is likely the sufferer will either avoid flying or fly in a state of high emotional arousal resulting in a dreadful experience and a further heightening of the fear response.

Fear is necessary because it alerts us to potential danger but it must be proportionate. One role of the subconscious mind is to ensure we avoid certain situations that have the potential to cause that danger. At a particularly important development stage in our lives we are programmed to avoid dangers: if we, as children, observe irrational fear responses to situations or objects (based on the people around us having that same response), we too may have that fear programmed within us.

The fear programme is automatic, largely because if, for example, we were to see a polar bear in the back garden, it would be inappropriate to spend time thinking about whether it had already eaten; logic has to be bypassed for the sake of our survival. People with phobias often realise their fear is irrational but they feel unable to do anything about it in the presence of, or when thinking about, the activating agent.

In modern day life the threat of danger does not exist in the same way as in more primitive times. We have replaced the jungle for houses and, in general, get along well with other people, rather than view them as a competing tribe. Yet, danger can be exaggerated by the part of the brain that is continually scanning the environment for any source of disruption to our wellbeing. If our general level of anxiety is high, the brain will search for the cause of the anxiety and match it to situations, objects, events etc. We may find that we develop fears later in life as our anxiety levels gradually increase and the brain focuses that fear onto something previously inert to us. It is, then, not the events in our lives which determine our responses but our thought patterns surrounding those events.

How Hypnotherapy Can Help

No one need live with an irrational fear or phobia. The mind programmed with a fear template can be reprogrammed to remove the emotional content contained within it. The vast majority of fears and phobias can be resolved within a limited number sessions. Since anxiety is at the centre, addressing the issue starts with a general lowering of anxiety. The emotional trauma is then removed from the original experience and the subconscious is taught a new, positive response pattern, based on what the client would like. At no point in sessions are we confronted with the object of fear.