Phobias are inordinate fears. A lot of people have a relatively mild dislike of certain things – say, spiders, water, darkness, heights, and so on – and the problem is not normally enough to result in any big disruption in their life. Some individuals, however, experience an absolutely irrational and inordinate fear of objects or situations. Their behaviour, in response, may be extreme and truly ‘phobic’.
Such a person, for example, with a phobia of cats, will barge out of a room recklessly, perhaps breaking valuable objects, in order to escape if they should happen to encounter what to them is a dreaded animal. One person, with a phobia of spiders (arachnophobia) was driving along a motorway, when a spider appeared on her rear-view mirror. Panicking, she braked suddenly, and ran out of the car to the hard-shoulder, leaving the car in the fast lane. The incident put her and other motorists at considerable risk, and illustrates the totally overwhelming nature of the disorder.
For these people, phobias can limit their lives. They are constantly having to be wary about their particular fear. There’s a long list of phobias, including fear of: death, men, women, blood, ghosts, buttons, sleep, dreams, etc.
Strong anxiety is behind the problem, and the cause may be from an earlier traumatic experience, or, in some cases, apparently from a past-life event.
When the escape-behaviour is strong and irrational, that usually reveals that the phobia started early – the behaviour is essentially that of a child.
It is thought that about two percent of the population is noticeably phobic. Males and females are equally prone to the problem. Apart from phobias of objects, some persons are terrified of social situations unable to go to restaurants, and supermarket, say, and may eventually not go out of their home.
In one survey that I conducted on 500 people, about 1 in 60 admitted to having a flying phobia and could never envisage foreign travel. Interestingly, many persons who say they have a flying phobia actually have a fear of water – into which the plane might have to descend.
Hypnotherapy may help. The procedure might be to establish the cause of the problem by obtaining ideo-motor responses (slight finger movements under unconscious control). Usually, the associated ‘sub-personality’ is ‘reintegrated’ appropriately. The second part of the procedure is to de-sensitize the client to the fear, by gradually reducing the habit-response, also in the hypnotic state. Work may then be focused on teaching the client ways to reduce their general anxiety and stress.
We offer treatment for phobias in Egham, Surrey, London, etc.