Phobias and Fear

Treatment for phobias, fear and anxiety issues

A Phobia is:

“an external symbolic interpretation of an internal anxiety.”

As children we all find ourselves in situations which cause a huge amount of fear and anxiety. Children have the ability to bottle the event and the emotion up in order to cope with it. Once those emotions have been bottled up, the psyche will create a phobia – to warn the person not to get into that (or any similar) situation again. For instance: you get bitten by a dog… you (can) develop a fear of dogs. The fear stops you going anywhere near dogs, and hence prevents you from getting bitten again.

Video: Juliet discusses the “moment when it all begins to feel OK”

What’s the difference between a fear and a phobia?
The main difference is in the severity of the emotional reaction: a strong dislike of flying is a fear, whereas a pathological fear (an intense, uncontrollable, unendurable, physical fear) is considered to be a phobia.

Most phobias symbolize a situation where the sufferer feels ‘out of control’ – fear of flying is a good example of this kind of phobia, air passengers who are afraid of flying feel completely powerless, up in the air, in the hands of a pilot they don’t know, in a cramped space and so on. Other phobias may be direct though these are less common. Although some phobias seem to serve an obvious purpose (fear of fire, drowning etc.) some appear to make no sense at all! – In therapy, we can find the originating cause (the unconscious conflict) of the phobia and release it – and when the emotions are released, the phobia disappears.

Some forms of therapy attempt to ‘get around’ the phobia, or make the sufferer feel better about ‘living with it’. Others try to understand intellectually what may be causing it. Analytical hypnotherapy can find the cause of the problem, and when it does, the phobia disappears – because there is nothing driving it anymore. Phobias are almost always formed in the childhood (though the symptoms may not appear for many years) and are caused by the sufferer bottling up some strong emotions.

Cure your phobia with hypnotherapy
The only way to get rid of a phobia permanently is to release the bottled up emotions that are causing it. The only difficulty is that most of the time, the bottled up emotions are completely locked away (hidden) in the depths of the person’s subconscious mind. The sufferer has no conscious awareness of the emotions or experiences that are bottled up. Most other types of therapy cannot gain access to these ‘locked away’ emotions & experiences, whereas hypnoanalysis can – sometimes quite easily. The process of hypnoanalysis (sometimes referred to as analytical hypnotherapy) requires a strong bond of trust and rapport being created between the therapist and the client. Over a period of about eight sessions, at weekly intervals, clients simply recount their memories and experiences and as they do so they release that bottled up emotion at the deepest level. It is a bit like a physical wound which will not heal until it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. When we get to these experiences we release all the emotion and the internal wound can then heal. The release is usually immediate and always profound. We remove the cause and the symptom ( phobia) disappears.

Common phobias
The most common phobias Juliet treats are: fear of spiders, fear of snakes, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, vertigo, emetephobia, fear of needles, social phobia, fear of flying but there are many more.

Emetophobia or Emetephobia – a fear of being sick
Associated fears; gagging, seeing others being sick, choking on food, pregnancy (due to possibility of morning sickness), drowning, and ‘social Phobia’.

I have treated many people with emetophobia. This phobia seems to affect more women than men, and tends to have a very disabling effect on the sufferer. Quite often the person has to avoid all places where there is a possibility of him- or herself or someone else being sick; pubs, restaurants, clubbing, eating in front of others etc. Because of the link between eating and being sick, the sufferer tends to be a little obsessive about what and where they will eat. A lot of sufferers tend to view being sick as ‘horrible, dirty, yukky’, etc., and so it is quite common for emetophobics to also have fears of other situations where they might feel the same way; going to the loo, or the inability to urinate in front of others (shy bladder), or even just being a little bit sweaty !

Social phobia
A fear of embarrassing. or humiliating ‘on the spot’ type situations (in public). Social phobia is also known as social anxiety, social anxiety disorder, or a fear of being judged.

Social phobia is a very common problem. It consists of a pervasive fear of any situation where the sufferer is likely to feel ‘on the spot’, embarrassed, humiliated or judged – for example: dinner parties, public speaking, interviews, appearing in court, singing, stuttering etc. Sometimes people feel that they are transparent, that somehow others will know that they are worthless in some way. Associated symptoms include: sensitivity to criticism, a negative self image, fear of rejection, difficulty in being assertive and feelings of inferiority. On a more general level, social phobics worry all the time about how others ‘see’ them, and what others may think about them, they tend to spend an unusual amount of time trying to conform. Sometimes socially phobic people are quite adept at concealing their anxiety from others, although there is quite often a difficulty in maintaining eye contact and some sufferers have a real problem with blushing.

In a clinical setting (in the U.S.A.) somewhere between 3 and 13% of people were found to have social phobia. Social phobia generally starts in the mid -teens (although it often follows on from just being ‘shy’) or can be triggered off by a particularly embarrassing event. As with all phobias, stress (or the lack of it) will have a significant effect on the ‘strength’ of the anxiety created.

Shy Bladder – the inability to urinate in front of others. Also known as paruresis, ‘stage fright’, toilet anxiety, toilet phobia.
Men with shy bladder (and it is usually only men who get shy bladder – for obvious reasons) have a great difficulty peeing in front of other people, or in a place that they are unfamiliar with. As with all phobias, the severity of the symptoms can change from person to person, and also fluctuate depending on the person’s stress level. i.e. some men find it a little difficult to pee in a crowded toilet, some can only pee in their own toilet (causing great difficulties – because the person has to come home from work, just to have a pee). Due to the embarrassing nature of the symptom and because sufferers feel silly this condition is under diagnosed because very few people go to their GP for help. Fortunately, they do contact hypnotherapists and we see a lot of people with this problem.

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