They may require the person to constantly plan their days or even life choices so as to avoid the thing they’re most afraid of, constantly asking themselves questions like ‘will there be lots of people there? will I have to say something? will I have to be around water?’ and so on. As this takes up so much thinking time and calculations of the next step their mind is not as free to enjoy everyday experiences.
For everyone else the fear can sometimes seem silly and disproportionate, especially if it happens to be something like a fear of birds (which happens to be not that uncommon)...but of course for the person it affects it is very real.
It’s important to recognise that a phobia is an emotional response formed at a subconscious level. Once the fear kicks in it is virtually impossible to control and the sufferer descends into a kind of panic, which continues either until the threat is removed or enough time passes and the body normalises itself by becoming detached to the situation.
Traditional phobia cures involved a period of desensitising the sufferer over a long period of time by progressive exposure to their fear. So someone who is afraid of spiders is first shown photos of spiders, later given a fake spider to hold, and so on until they can be near a real spider without being terrified. The theory behind this is that when put in a slightly uncomfortable scenario we begin to become anxious and scared so our body’s physiology changes and our fight or flight response kicks in. If the person resists this, then over a period of time (short i the threat is not so great) the body begins to revert back to a balanced state (as it can’t maintain this heightened state of arousal for long)...so now that the situation is normalised then the next level can begin.
However, with hypnotherapy we are able to work directly at the subconscious level in order to effect change. In fact in some situations just one or two sessions can be enough to normalise a phobia which has been problematic for a lifetime. There are different ways this can be done, and a very common approach is to deal with what was the cause of the phobia. As most phobias are formed at a young age, this means taking the client back to the event and reprocessing the memory in some way. In fact most phobias can be traced back to a single event which occurred in the client’s childhood between the time they were beginning to make sense of the world and around 10 to 12 years old.
There are many types of phobia out there and they seem to affect many more people than we may first realise. For some the extreme nature of their phobia can not only be extremely unpleasant but it can also be very disabling in their lives, especially if it’s the kind of phobia that we face on a daily basis such as claustrophobia (the fear of being in small spaces) or agoraphobia (the fear of being around crowds, public places, or open spaces).
These types of phobias can severely limit the kind of things a person can take part in and the places they can go.