A phobia is an abnormal fear invoked by a particular object or situation where the fear:
- is out of proportion to the demands of a situation
- cannot be explained away
- is beyond voluntary control
- leads to avoidance of the feared situation
Classification of Phobias:
Specific or Simple Phobias
These tend to develop in childhood and may become less severe as you get older, yet stress or anxiety in life can make them become more severe.
- animal phobias – such as dogs, spiders, snakes or rodents
- environmental phobias – such as heights, deep water and germs
- situational phobias – such as visiting the dentist or flying
- bodily phobias – such as blood, vomit or having injections
- sexual phobias – such as performance anxiety or the fear of getting a sexually transmitted infection
“I had horrible needle phobia and after hypnotherapy sessions I am now a proud owner of a tattoo and managed to do a blood sample, something which was impossible for me before! Very supportive, even came with me and supported me for the blood sample. I still use the self hypnosis techniques. “ Laura
These tend to be more disabling than simple phobias and develop most often in adulthood. Complex phobias are often connected to deep-rooted fears or anxiety.
- Agoraphobia - a fear of open spaces and meeting places
- Social Phobia - a fear of social gatherings, eating in public, etc.
For as long as people have experienced the emotion of fear there have been phobias. Fear is an essential survival instinct; our ancestors lived in harsh conditions and needed to learn very quickly what could be a potential threat to their wellbeing. However, when our brains make a faulty pattern match between fear and a specific object or situation we can develop a phobia. We like to think of ourselves as modern and rational individuals and if you have experienced a phobic reaction you may be fully aware, on a conscious level, that it isn’t reasonable - yet your emotional brain and your subconscious is stuck in the habit and is trying to protect you from what it perceives as danger.
“I saw Daniel for help with tiredness initially and then mentioned my rat phobia to him. In two sessions Daniel helped me feel much less anxious about my phobia and by the fourth session I had overcome my longstanding fear of rats and I'm incredibly grateful to him for that! He listened carefully to find out what I wanted to work on in hynotherapy and used a variety of techniques to help relax me and guide me through the process.” J.W.
Causes of phobias
- The phobia may be the product of severe stress
When experiencing intense stress in relation to a specific object, place or situation the stress may materialise as a phobia about some object, place or situation. In other words, stress manifests itself in another form, that of irrational fear.
- The phobia may result from a series of experiences occurring over a period of years, which have built up into an excessive anxiety
A personal history that includes a series of negative experiences that reinforce each other can culminate in a phobia, which may transfer to other areas of life.
- The phobia may be the product of a fear of fear
If you have a fear of panic or of fear itself it is a very real phobia! This fear can be associated with anything and everything.
Nothing is exempt from this fear, and your activities become increasingly
restricted as the fear spreads into all aspects of their life.
- The phobia may be learned from another person
We may inherit or learn the fear from someone who serves as a role model for us. Apart from family members, anyone with whom you’ve been in close contact - a friend, a neighbour or even a stranger - can transmit a fear.
- The phobia may be the result of a severe past trauma
A painful emotional experience from the past can produce an unreasonable fear of the same situation, object, person or place that originally caused the fear.
Hypnotherapy for Phobias
Whether your phobia is a result of stress, anxiety, trauma or a faulty pattern matching to a perceived danger, hypnotherapy has been shown to be effective and efficient in the treatment of phobias (1). When working with your phobia, I will initially discuss the history of how it developed to find the appropriate approach for your situation. The use of either the Rewind Technique or Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing ( EMDR ) have both been successful for those suffering from phobic responses and these could be part of a treatment plan.
If you’d like to be supported in overcoming your phobia, please call now to book a session.
1. McGuinness, T. P. (1984). Hypnosis in the treatment of phobias: a review of the literature. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 26(4), 261-272.