Fears and Phobias
Let us begin this section by making the distinction between a fear and a phobia. Essentially,
whereas in many cases a fear can be rational to the situation, a phobia is likely to be of a
level of fear that is way higher than the actual threat posed. Similarly, a phobia is likely to
interfere with a person’s life to such an extent as to cause constant distress or prevent their
enjoyment of regular activities.
Phobias are indeed quite common and it is estimated that 12.5% of the general population
will experience one or more phobia at some time in their lives (Graske, Anthony & Barlow,
As with anxiety disorders quite often a phobic reaction triggers our ‘fight or flight’ response
which can lead to the physiological sensation of a panic attack. The reality is that our brains
are simply preparing us to take the best action possible to ensure survival.
There are some things that humans already have a genetic preparedness to be afraid of
which would have served as essential for our survival further back in our evolution. These
are things such as heights, reptiles, confined spaces or darkness. This does not mean that
we will definitely become afraid of these things in our lives, but we are however more
vulnerable to acquiring these phobias, especially if they are paired with a distressful event.
Firstly, through traumatic conditioning: this is basically when a traumatic event is paired
and therefore later associated with a previously neutral stimulus. For example, if you
suffer a sudden panic attack whilst in the company of a dog, even if the dog’s presence was
unrelated this may generalise to become a phobia of dogs.
Secondly, through observational learning: This is the act of seeing somebody else afraid of
the feared stimulus. This could be either on television, or in real life.
Thirdly, through informational transmission: This basically refers to being warned of the
dangers by somebody else, or through media outlets.
Once a phobia is installed we then have a tendency to unwittingly reinforce it by
intentionally avoiding the feared stimulus or by carrying out other safety behaviours. This
tends to be the reason that phobias increase in severity with age.
Ok so that’s all the factual stuff over with, and so now you are wondering how can
Consider for a moment, that your mind has currently set in place a hardened and well
developed pattern for how to do you phobic response.
Using hypnotherapy we will start to weaken the foundations that hold this pattern together
and then replace it with another, far more positive and productive one. I combine hypnosis,
with NLP and CBT in my phobia work to create a tailor made intervention plan to suit your
Created with by Wayne Davies
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