What are phobias?
A phobia is an excessive or unreasonable fear of an object, place or situation. Simple phobias are fears of specific things such as insects, infections or flying. Agoraphobia is a fear of being in places where one feels 'trapped' or unable to get help, such as in crowds, on a bus, or standing in a queue. A social phobia is a marked fear of social or performance situations.
Phobias are extremely common. Sometimes they start in childhood for no apparent reason; sometimes they emerge after a traumatic event; and sometimes they develop from an attempt to make sense of an unexpected and intense anxiety or panic (e.g. "I feel fearful, therefore I must be afraid of something").
With some phobias there may be accompanying frightening thoughts (this plane might crash; I'm trapped; I must get out). However with other phobias it is more difficult to identify any specific thoughts which could be associated with the anxiety (e.g. it is unlikely that a spider phobic is afraid of making a fool of themselves in front of the spider). With these phobias the cause seems to be explained more as a conditioned (learned) anxiety response which has become associated with the feared object.
What is happening to the person?
When the phobic person actually encounters, or even anticipates being in the presence of, the feared object or situation, they experience immediate anxiety. The physical symptoms of anxiety may include a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, chest/abdominal discomfort or trembling, and the emotional component involves an intense fear of losing control, embarrassing oneself or passing out.
Commonly people try to escape, and then to avoid the feared situation wherever possible. This may be fairly easy if the feared object is rarely encountered (e.g. fear of snakes) and avoidance will not therefore restrict the person's life very much. At other times (e.g. agoraphobia, social phobia) avoiding the feared situation limits their life severely.
Many phobias respond extremely well to a course of hypnotherapy. To find out more please contact me