What is a phobia?
The first time a person has either been exposed to some trigger event, which is then repressed in the subconscious mind, or has learned to be afraid from a parent or other authority figure earlier on in life, can be the moment the phobia is planted. Many people have phobias without even realizing it – people who blush furiously when facing a situation where they feel they are being looked at, probably have no idea that they are suffering from scopophobia (a fear of being stared at) whilst another person who is actually afraid of blushing could be said to have ereuthophobia (a fear of blushing). People don’t become afraid without a reason. The originating event may not have been particularly traumatic at the time but is likely to have been caused by emotional conflict or been anchored by a negative response. Phobias can occur spontaneously following the death of someone close or during periods of extreme stress. They are more than simple fears. They develop when a person begins to organise their life around avoiding the things they are afraid of, thus developing an extreme or irrational fear. If you have a phobia, you will have an overwhelming need to avoid all contact with the source of your anxiety. Coming into contact, or even the thought of coming into contact, with the cause of your phobia will make you anxious and may cause you to panic, break into a cold sweat or have other distressing symptoms like palpitations, sweaty hands or back of the neck, racing heart, pounding head, tremors, breathlessness, fainting, constricted muscles, light-headedness and shaking – quite often the person suffering the attack feels rooted to the spot. The first time an anxiety attack is experienced it usually seems to happen for no apparent reason, therefore, the subject cannot rationally explain it to himself and it is literally a ‘fear of the unknown’. Once the panic attack is over, the subject returns to normal, realizing that no harm has really been done.
However, because it cannot be satisfactorily explained, the sufferer never knows when it is going to recur – it has been likened to living next door to a volcano – that could erupt at any time. In fact the victim of the panic attack is subsequently watching and waiting for the next onset, so much so that, when it does happen again, it erupts with a vengeance, increasing the level of anxiety to an alarming degree. Then the first rule of the mind kicks in, “That which is expected, tends to be realised”, leading to a ‘vicious cycle’ of the mind affecting the body and the body counteracting by affecting the mind’ until the whole pent up emotion is discharged and the energy dissipated. If the cause of your phobia is an object or animal, known as a simple phobia, such as a snake, and you do not come into contact with it regularly, it is unlikely to affect your day-to-day life too dramatically. However, if you have a more complex phobia, such as agoraphobia, (the fear of open spaces and public places), or a social phobia such as attending weddings, or public speaking which may involve feeling humiliated in public, then you may find it very difficult to lead a normal life. Phobias affect different people in different ways. Some people only react with mild anxiety when confronted with the object of their fear, while others experience severe anxiety or have a severe panic attack. Complex phobias tend to be more disabling than simple phobias because they are often associated with a deep-rooted fear or anxiety about a particular circumstance or situation.
Phobias are the most common type of anxiety disorder. In the UK, an estimated 10 million people have phobias. Phobias can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex and social background. Simple phobias, such as a fear of going to the dentist, usually start during early childhood, often between the ages of four and eight and often disappear on their own as the child gets older and usually do not cause problems in adulthood. Complex phobias usually start later in life. Social phobias often begin during puberty and agoraphobia in the late teens to early twenties. Sometimes, complex phobias continue for many years. Almost all phobias can be successfully treated and abolished. Treating phobias involves gradually changing perspective and attitude to the cause and removing the old, negative pattern from the sub conscious mind where the programme is lodged.
HYPNOSIS and N.L.P. prove very effective in achieving this aim.