A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.
We find that most phobias are more pronounced than a fear. Let’s just look at what the word FEAR and what it represents! False Emotions Appearing Real.
There is no single cause to a phobia, but we know that there can be a number of associated factors.
A phobia can be a learned response which developed in the persons early life usually from a parent or sibling (brother/sister). The phobia could be associated with a particular incident or trauma. There is a belief that genetics could play a role as there is a suggestion that some people are born with a tendency to be a little bit more anxious than others.
It can be unusual for a phobia to start after the age of 30 as most phobias can be traced back to early childhood, teenage years or adulthood.
Phobias develop when a person has an unrealistic or an exaggerated sense of danger about a situation or object, in other words if a person is in an emotional state when they experience one of these unrealistic or exaggerated situations the subconscious mind will lock onto that emotion and lock it away in the brain so in the future if a person faces a similar event later on in life, those areas of the brain retrieve that stressful memory, sometimes more than once. This causes the body to experience the same reaction.
if a phobia becomes very severe in that person’s life then that person may organise their life around that phobia trying to avoid any of those things which will cause them the anxiety which can lead to a lot of distress and can restrict their day to day routine. For example, someone with severe agoraphobia may be unable to leave the house, whereas someone who has mild agoraphobia may be able to travel short distances without problems.
We know that some people may not experience any symptoms of the phobia until they come into close proximity or contact with the source of the phobia whereas for other people the simple act of thinking about the source can bring on the feelings of anxiety and panic, the simple explanation for this is that the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between real and imagined! This is known as anticipatory anxiety.
Doctors will classify pain as Acute Pain which is caused by some form of injury to the body warning the brain of potential damage and requires action. It can develop slowly or quickly and last for just a few minutes or months and will subside as the injury heals.
Chronic Pain this is pain which will persist long after the trauma has healed, and sometimes can occur even in the absence of a trauma. This type of pain does not warn the body to respond and will usually last longer than six months.
If a phobia does not cause the person to experience extreme panic or anxiety then they may find that simply avoiding the source of their fear is enough to help them stay in control and may not seek any treatment. However, a person suffering from a complex phobia where it is not possible for them to avoid the triggers, then speaking to a professional can help them on the road to recovery and take back control of their life.
Research has shown that phobias are more often than not linked to the amygdala which is part of the brain situated just behind the pituitary gland. It is the amygdala which can trigger the release of the “fight or flight” hormones which can put the mind and body into a highly stressed and alert state.
Hypnotherapy is one therapy that has been used successfully at reducing the fear and anxiety symptoms attached to a phobia and helps people manage their reactions to the phobia. Hypnotherapy helps the person to overcome their phobia by reprogramming the mind’s reaction to the trigger by simply getting the person into a relaxed state where the brainwaves begin to slow down so that the therapist can engage with the subconscious mind and begin to make the changes through positive suggestion, visualisation and creative use of the imagination. As stated earlier “the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between real and imagined event!
The techniques used by the hypnotherapist will vary from one client to another, because each client must be treated as an individual, therefore the therapy has to be designed around them and could include a combination of techniques such as EFT (emotional freedom technique), NLP (neuro linguistic programming), EMDR (eye movement desensitisation reprocessing).
Whatever techniques are used the purpose is to replace any negative thoughts, outdated beliefs and misunderstandings with positive thoughts, feelings of relaxation and new associations when you are in the presence those triggers which initiate the phobic response and those mental links are broken.
So just imagine for a moment what life would be like without those outdate beliefs and misunderstandings. Ask yourself “What would you be doing differently” when you are free of those fears and anxieties. You know that you owe it to yourself to make those changes you want to make for your own sake, Don’t You!