Phobias are irrational fears and although extremely uncomfortable for the sufferer, are often extremely amusing for outsiders to witness. This, of course, only makes the whole experience worse for the phobic. I remember years ago watching a program on TV where someone had a phobia about touching peaches. The audience (and at the time me, I must admit) found it hilarious as the host tossed a few peaches at the poor person who struggled and cringed to get out of the way. Fear of peaches? Really? Totally irrational.

Phobias are great examples of our unconscious mind at work. Somewhere back in our past we have encountered the object of our phobia (the stimulus) and perceived it as a threat. This can be through direct experience or through witnessing another’s reaction. How often have I heard “I don’t like needles and neither does my mum”? When confronted by our stimulus we have reacted in some way to remove ourselves from the perceived danger, say running away from a spider (or peach). As our distance from the stimulus increases, our fear subsides and our brain stores away this useful information for later. A connection has been made; running away from stimulus = good. This is how our unconscious mind works; we are constantly programming and reprogramming it. So next time we encounter the stimulus there is no need (or really time) to consciously assess the situation; running away is good, it worked before. If it works this time too then that connection is reinforced.

This is great until we are no longer prepared to experience that fear from the stimulus. As a father I would rather demonstrate to my children that spiders (in this country at least) are harmless and can be picked up and thrown outside, rather than cringing in a corner until it leaves.

Phobias can also develop from a connection being made between the stimulus and a traumatic event which has long since been forgotten. The stimulus still creates the fear and anxiety but the sufferer has no idea why.

Phobias are extremely common and the variety of things that people are afraid of is potentially limitless. The good news is that Cognitive Hypnotherapy has a collection of tools to tackle phobias and they can be surprisingly easy to get rid of.

If you are ready to be rid of your phobia, contact me today to make an appointment, I would love to help.

Comments are closed.