Fears and Phobias

Fears and phobias

So what is the difference between a fear and a phobia?

  • Fear could be described as apprehension that something awful is going to happen. Acute fear generally disappears when the cause is avoided or  removed.  Some fears are chronic and some are complex and have no specific cause.
  • A phobia could be described as an unusually intense fear of a certain situation or object.  People sometimes suffer from an unusually intense fear in a number of situations.

Both fears and phobias can be monophobic  – related to one item or multiphobic – related to a number of items.

Treatment:  The approach I take depends upon my instinct at our initial meeting.  Whether your fear,or phobia is the result of a traumatic incident that has been reinforced, or is it due to an inner conflict.  Scroll down to see how I helped resolve one client’s fear.

Did you know that the cause of the fear, or phobia may not have happened to you.  You may have learned it, for example if a parent had an intense fear, they may pass it on to their child, after all small children observe and imitate.  All a small child – or an animal needs is re-inforcement/reward for the unwanted behaviour and it becomes set, until action is taken to remove it.

Some fears are fairly logical, such as a fear of bees – the sufferer had probably been stung at some time and the reaction unintentionally reinforced, by the person providing comfort.  So you may avoid the insect, to avoid being stung in future.  That’s obvious – except that the act of avoiding the insect the reaction usually attracts the creature, who is simply being nosy….  The sad thing is that people can go through their whole life being afraid of, something without getting the fear treated.  Often with hypnotherapy, or neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) fears and phobias are quickly treated, – usually 3 or 4 sessions for a single phobia and the result of the desensitisation can be life changing – liberating.  

A fear of water may result in the sufferer never crossing water – so that may be an inability to use a bridge, a boat, or ship, aircraft, learn to swim etc and resolving the fear positively liberating….. just think about the result of  a medically based fear.  

If you’ve ever wondered the word phobia is Greek, that’s the ‘norm’ that most of the names follow, however, new names for phobias are being added all the time and it’s here that inconsistencies creep in because many of the new fears and phobias are being named by the medical profession who work in Latin.

In my first week or so here, in Spain; my partner took me on a drive to explore the countryside, whilst driving along the scenic route to Aguilas – a coastal town. I suffered a mild feeling of panic well actually, if you’ve ever travelled through the narrow, winding mountain roads, admiring the view, rounded a hairpin bend and met an articulated lorry … on your left hand side is a slate cliff and on the other a sheer drop you will appreciate my horror I’ll include (Dystychiphobia –accidents).– (Acrophobia – heights)-. (Aeroacrophobia- open high places). (Amaxophobia – Riding in a car), (Hodophobia road travel), (Xenophobia – Foreigners or strangers), but would justify that by saying only when driving erratically.   There was an eagle soaring to our right over the sheer drop, not sure whether s/he was adept at spotting potential accidents, or whether practiced at distracting drivers along that particular road, to facilitate a generous lunch – so I can add Ornithophobia (birds).  

We eventually arrived in one piece and parked the car at the port, where I looked out on a choppy sea –(Thalassophobia).   After a while we decided to walk (Stasibasiphobia) into the town visiting the fish (Ichthyophobia) market en-route.  After exploring the town we decided to lunch at one of the bars along the sea front.  The waitress arrived and we placed the order in Spanish (Xenoglossophobia-foreign languages)- and waited and waited (Macrophobia) for our tapas.  While enjoying the sunny vista we watched the insects (Acarophobia or Insectophobia), pilfering their lunch and was even a little concerned about being stung (Cnidophobia) and was amused by the dogs (Cynophobia) and cats (Felinophobia, or Gatophobia) antics begging for food,  I was a little surprised about the amount of alcohol (Methyphobia) being consumed.  Our appetites and thirst being sated we decided after an amble back to the car to take the safer coastal route back past San Juan and Pulpi.

Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture, there is a phobia named after almost every situation you are likely to meet.

Treatment case history

The first session (always gratis) was spent taking a thorough case history and building a rapport with the client.   I like to provide a calm anchor early in the session with phobia clients because I know that they will need it when discussing the phobia, it also instils confidence in my ability to help them.  So I ask them to go back into their memory  and recall a time when they felt really calm and relaxed.  When they have recalled the memory I ask them to tell me about it, using all their senses as if it were happening now I ask questions so I can help them bring back the feelings as strongly as if they were experiencing the memory here and now, and once it is maximised I press a finger to anchor the feeling into that finger, if they want to recall the feeling all they have to do is to press the anchor.

The case history was as follows and it was agreed to share the details of treatment in lieu of payment whilst I agreed to protect anonymity – the client also agreed to the content of the article:

  • ‘C’ has had this fear for as long as she can remember it has worsened with age.  Now at nearly 30 she is unable to touch a toilet cistern, other than to flush it.  
  • ‘C’ is able to use the loo if it has a low level cistern – close coupled is best and she dreads those with a flush pipe.
  • The lid must be firmly in place – if ajar she’s unnerved,  if the lid is off – unable to enter the room.
  • High level cisterns are out and although white cisterns present less of a problem she’s still unable to use the loo.  In desperation she’s been known to take her partner in with her!
  • An overflowing cistern (high or low) causes panic as does touching any of the pipework to or from the cistern.
  • The worst combination would be a big black cistern hung high on the wall ‘with an overflow pipe stuck out the front like a nose’.  ‘If it were overflowing into the pan you wouldn’t see me for dust’.

The second session was spent regressing the patient back to the cause of the phobia, I like to do this through hypnosis, so they have an induction, are taken into a safe place in their mind, where they are returned if they have a panic episode during hypnosis, their calm anchor is reinforced, and I like to briefly scan through the Client’s lifetime a year at a time for the origins of the phobia,  I simply count down from their present age to 0 and back up again asking them to raise a finger for any year that they have a memory that caused this problem – I like to be thorough and to ensure that multiple causes for the phobia are not missed.  It’s frustrating for me (and distressing for the client) to discover that the issue was not quite resolved.  ‘C’ took me back to the age of five.  I thanked the client’s subconscious mind under hypnosis for helping me and I terminated the trance.  I had a chat with her afterward and assured her that at the next session we would work together to resolve the cause of the fear so that it does not trouble them in the future. 

Session 3 – I induced ‘C’ into hypnosis revisited her safe place, reinforced her calm anchor and asked her to go back in her memory to a time when they were five just before the upsetting incident happened. I always stress that they are watching their younger self on a video screen, as I’ve found that it minimises the client’s distress.  It turned out that she was in reception class with the teacher and all of her peers, they had all spent quite some time hunting for the class hamster who had escaped.  ‘C’ needed to visit the loo so off she skipped.  I asked her to describe the loo – it had a high black cistern with an overflow pipe protruding ‘like a big nose’ and it had a long chain.  I asked what happened next.  When the toilet was flushed she found the hamster he had apparently drowned in the cistern and was flushed into the toilet pan.  Her screams alerted teacher and the rest of the class.  All of the class was upset apart from one boy who thought it was funny.  The teacher comforted the children.  There the scene ended. At the point in the video where she flushed the loo ‘C’ became a little distressed so I pressed her calm anchor.  When she was calm again and ready to continue.  I asked the child ‘C’what she needed to make her feel better and I suggested to ‘C’ that her adult self knew exactly what was needed to comfort her younger self.  When she was ready we rewound the video and replayed it, with each time the video is played it gets faster as the effect it has lessens, this sequence was repeated 4 times until it was really fast.  When she appeared ready I asked her to rewind the video and this time to step into the video as if she was there, but as an adult.  This time nothing happened no anxiety, fear, butterflies, just a feeling of regret surrounding the whole incident.  The next step was to go forward and picture herself – going to a toilet with a high cistern and to see what she feels.  The effect was nothing.  I thanked her subconscious mind for helping her to resolve the issue and suggested that she may need to visit the loo, I then brought her out of hypnosis.  We chatted for a short while and she asked where the loo was?  I’d moved the cistern cover slightly so it was on the skew…. She returned chuckling having readjusted it!


Comment from ‘C’ “I had no idea what caused the phobia, but am just so grateful for your help in resolving it.  So quickly and painlessly too!
Do you need help with a fear?

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