A phobia is an irrational fear, literally a fear without good reason, or a fear of something that may not happen. People with phobias often experience unwanted responses to animals, objects, insects, actions or places.
This physical response is known as a stress response; people often describe their reaction to something as being “paralysed with fear” or “having butterflies in my stomac”, “just wanting to run away” from whatever is triggering the response.
People with phobias often know their response is irrational, which makes it harder to accept. “Why am I reacting like this when I know it can’t hurt me?” is something most hypnotherapists hear from a client who has come to see them for treating a phobia.
Phobias are far more common than many people realise. It is estimated that more than 11% of the population have some kind of irrational fear.
Generally people manage their phobia on a day-to-day basis and only seek help from a hypnotherapist when it prevents them doing something they want to do, or when they know a situation will force them to face it. People are also aware of the possibility of unconsciously passing on their phobias to their children, who learn from their behaviour.
A seven year study showed that 50% of patients who were afraid of flying improved or were cured after treatment with hypnosis.
Spiegel, D. (1998) Report in the Harvard Mental Health Letter