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DEFINITION AND SYMPTOMS OF PHOBIAS:
A phobia is defined as an irrational fear. When a person has a phobic attack, they get panicky feelings; their respiration and heart rates increase; they may feel choked up like their heart is in their throat; their palms often get sweaty; they may hear the sound of ringing in their ears; and they very often find that they are unable to participate in an activity. These feelings cause the individual to avoid the situations and places that trigger them.
SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF COMMON PHOBIAS:
For instance, if someone has a driving phobia, they would exhibit these symptoms when they attempt to drive a car, or maybe even when they just think about driving. Or a terror attack may well ensue simply when driving in specific places like in heavy traffic.
The fear of talking in front of a group of people is a very common phobia. The phobic feelings appear when the person tries to talk in front of a person that they are intimidated by, or they might well experience phobic feelings only while in front of a group of other people. The size of the crowd will vary. This irrational fear can be triggered by fears of inadequacy, or a lack of self-esteem.
Those who suffer from social phobias can get horrifically nervous just being around other people, even folks that they recognize. It is a fear that they will be criticized or evaluated by other people. This fear can be triggered in almost any type of social interaction. A person could be standing on line at a supermarket and get stressful feelings as they imagine having to talk to the cashier as they checkout.
The fear of taking tests (which is frequently known as test anxiety) is a frequent phobia. A phobia to taking tests is rooted in comparing yourself to other people, and is deeply rooted in a fear of failing.
People have experienced irrational fears to every category of experience under the sun. For example: Snakes; bugs; relationships; flying; small enclosed places; animals; high places; death; and even the great outdoors.
Agoraphobia is generally considered to be a fear of open spaces. However, this definition is extremely deceptive because Agoraphobics are really afraid of having a panic attack, wherever they may happen to be. This phobia is developed when a person begins to avoid places or situations they have associated with anxiety. For example, they could have a panic attack at the drycleaners, at home, or at a supermarket.
For many, once their panic attacks have started to occur, they begin to expect them to come about. And this expectation actually causes them to occur with increasing frequency. Other people experience fearful feelings on a continuous basis. These feelings cause an overall sense of discomfort, rather than panic.
FORMS OF TREATMENT THAT ARE AVAILABLE
Some doctors care for their patients by means of sedatives, which can make the condition worse over prolonged treatment. Sedatives do not work on the core cause of a phobia; they only camouflage some of the symptoms.
Some schools of therapy prescribe “Talk Therapy.” Talk therapy is only talking about what is bothering you. Unfortunately, thinking about or talking about the situation or environment that causes a phobic attach can trigger a phobic attack!
Traditional self hypnosis has been used to treat phobias, but with only meager success. Traditional hypnotherapy is accomplished when the hypnotherapist guides the client into a relaxed state of self hypnosis and gives the patient post-hypnotic commands or suggestions. Since most people of our generation question and resist direct suggestions, they also reject the concept that they will be more relaxed and at ease when they encounter the situation or environment that sets off their panic attacks.
Systematic Desensitization is the practice of gradually desensitizing a phobic person to the circumstances or environment that causes a phobic attack. For instance, if a woman wants to dive from a high diving board but she fears it, she is asked to first dive from a height that she feels confident about. She dives in and realizes that she did not get hurt and that she is safe.
Next she is asked to dive in from the first step of the ladder going up to the high diving board. Again, she dives in and realizes that nothing bad happened and that she is again safe and secure.
Over a period of time the phobic is asked to dive in from gradually higher and higher steps on the ladder. Each time she dives in and realizes that nothing bad happened and that she is safe and secure, she is able to move up to the next rung of the ladder. If she experiences the sensation of fear, then she’s asked to move back down one rung on the ladder and dive from there until she feels complete comfort and security. In the end she makes it to the top of the ladder and dives in from the high board.
SYSTEMATIC DESENSITIZATION WHILE IN THE STATE OF HYPNOSIS:
Systematic Desensitization can be done literally while in a hypnotic state with as good as or better results. While in a relaxed hypnotized state, the woman would be asked to visualize herself diving in from each rung of the ladder. She would be asked to picture herself feeling confident and relaxed as she dives in. Since she is in fact disassociated while picturing herself, she is unable to experience a phobic attack.
Next she’s asked to associate, or put the camera inside of her head so she would be seeing what she would see through her eyes if she was actually diving in from each step of the ladder. She is asked to imagine feeling safe and relaxed as she dives in.
Just as in a live (in vivo) systematic desensitization, if she feels any panic she’s told to go back to the previous lower step on the ladder and picture diving in from there.
She might be taught to create a kinesthetic (feeling or touch) “anchor” for feelings of security and safety. She could then trigger that anchor while imagining that she’s diving, and the feelings of security and safety could be subjectively transferred to the act of diving.
Systematic Desensitization while in hypnosis can be especially powerful and totally successful, but is can also be slow and take several hypnotic sessions to bring about a cure.
NLP (NEURO-LINGUISTIC PROGRAMMING) V/K DISASSOCIATION:
Neuro-Linguistic Programming is the study of how we create our reality. The V/K stands for visual / kinesthetic. The V/K Disassociation is a technique that allows a trained NLP Practitioner to guide a subject through specific visual imagery that quickly and in many cases instantly disconnects or disassociates the feelings of fear from the irrational fear that causes them. The V/K Disassociation is known as the “One session phobia cure” in Neuro-Linguistic Programming circles, and with good cause.
Phobias are very common in our society. They are fears that aren’t based in reality. There are many techniques for treating phobias, but thus far in my opinion, the best treatments are Systematic Desensitization while in the hypnotic state, and the Neuro-Linguistic Programming V/K Disassociation technique.