Fears and Phobias
Fears and Phobias come in many forms…fear of flying, fear of needles, fear of insects, vertigo, emetophobia (fear of being sick), claustrophobia and agoraphobia to name a few.
Anybody who has experienced phobia will recognize it as an intense fear or aversion to something…an object, a person or a situation…which overwhelms and frequently immobilizes us.
Often it appears that the response is irrational because we know logically that the thing we are afraid of cannot really cause us any harm.
At the root of phobia is our natural instinct for self-preservation…to keep us safe and away from danger. This is one of our strongest and most fundamental instincts and when triggered appropriately it is an essential survival tool.
Our perception of danger is predominantly a learned behaviour. As children we are warned not to touch things that are hot or sharp, to check that the road is clear before we cross and not to approach stray animals etc. If we are reminded often enough of these things we learn to take care and watch out automatically. These are sensible precautions and fall within the range of normal behaviour that we all experience.
The irrational fear or phobia takes this to a different level by incorporating an element of intense emotion that is so strong that it provokes the ‘fight or flight’ response…causing us to take avoiding action to protect ourselves. Frequently there is an ‘initiating event’, a life experience where we have felt genuinely threatened or at risk and experienced that intense emotion in full.
For example, one of our clients, whilst experiencing a particularly turbulent flight and landing, genuinely thought the aircraft was going to crash and that he would be killed. The intense panic he experienced stayed with him and made him anxious about taking future flights.
This illustrates one of the key elements in a phobia – the panic we experience becomes associated with the specific event. Our unconscious minds have both the experience and the associated emotional state stored away in memory for future reference. Consequently, when we are presented with a similar set of circumstances in the future…for example another aircraft flight…our unconscious mind, in self- preservation mode, quickly remind us of what happened last time…often triggering the ‘fight or flight’ response again and reinforcing our perception of danger.
What happens next depends upon the individual. Responses can range from avoiding the circumstances, facing them squarely or perhaps, taking some form of medication to deal with the panic symptoms.
I have found that the most effective solution to working with and resolving phobias is to ‘unlearn’ the association of the emotional response with the ‘initiating event’ and to associate positive responses with it. We use a form of treatment known as Eye Movement Therapy (BLAST) to bring about this change.
With this technique the client follows the movement of a pen in front of their eyes whilst recalling the experience of the initiating event. The combination of eye movement stimulation and recollection allows the memory to be safely recalled and the emotional content to be processed effectively. Clients can work very quickly with this technique, often needing only one or two sessions to clear a phobia.
To find out more about the process involved and to see whether it is appropriate for you why not take advantage of our Free Initial Consultation and I will be delighted to explain how it works.