Of the emotional problems I deal with in my practice, there are three
types that I encounter all the time. They are guilt, fear and depression.
It may surprise many people to know that depression is a long way down
the list, while guilt and phobias are by far the most common.
In my medical dictionary there are 283 recognized phobias, and I am
sure there exists an equal number of unnamed ones.
What is a phobia?
A phobia is an irrational fear, the experience
of which can produce an irrational response such as pulling your hair
out, or a massive response where your body systems are involved. We
describe it in our everyday language: "sweating with fear," "paralyzed
with fear," "butterflies in the stomach," etc. The word "phobia" originates
from a god of ancient Greece - Phobos the god of Fear. There are countless
definitions of phobia, but the most apt one defines a phobia as "a fear
of a fear." Perhaps, more accurately, a phobia may be described as"
an extreme reaction to fear triggered by a stimulus."
Phobias are very common
One in nine people have a phobia of some
sort - more than eleven percent of the population. And one in twenty
people have panic attacks at some stage in their lives, quite commonly
triggered by a phobia.
Conventional medicine ineffective
There is little that conventional
medical science can do for your phobia, other than prescribing an antidepressant
Hypnosis the solution
Hypnosis, on the other hand, can in most
cases eliminate or alleviate the phobia. In England, London Zoo runs
a course in eliminating the fear of spiders under the guidance of an
experienced hypnotist, and the participants end the course in the Insect
House stroking spiders. British Airways at Heathrow runs a course for
those who have a fear of flying.
Fear of flying - a common phobia
Leading up to the summer holidays,
I always get a string of clients who have a fear of flying. In the past
they have either avoided flying or gone through agony and much mental
pain when they board an aircraft taking their family on holiday. A number
of these clients then spent those two weeks on holiday in fear of the
I usually regress the client in hypnosis to the
original event that caused the phobia, then I "desensitize" the phobia
by making them experience that event again but in circumstances where
they are dissociated from the actual trauma of the event. Then I change
or re-frame that event so that the client no longer has that fear. In
the case of a flying phobia, for example, I take them (in hypnosis)
through the whole experience of the flight from Portland to Hawaii,
starting with getting in the car at home for the trip to Portland airport,
then booking in, going through airport controls, boarding the aircraft
and experiencing the take-off, the flight, and finally landing at the
While they are under hypnosis, I implant into the client's unconscious
mind that everything goes smoothly and well, and they thoroughly enjoy
the whole experience of flying. I also use a technique that no other
therapy can achieve, and that is "time distortion." By teaching the
clients to put themselves into hypnosis when they get on the aircraft,
by prior suggestion you can make the flight appear to them to last only
Tackling any phobias
I have dealt with countless phobias. I find
them all very interesting and it is very satisfying to me when I have
been instrumental in eradicating a phobia.
As always, the person with the phobia must want to get rid of it and
act in partnership with the hypnotist. I have dealt with fears of spiders,
snakes, mice and rats, heights, fear of open spaces, fear of animals,
fear of water, fear of public speaking, and so on.
One of my clients had not stepped out of her house alone for two-and-a-half
years. She had "agoraphobia" - the fear of open spaces. She had to be
accompanied on her few trips to the supermarket or to the doctor. After
two sessions she started to venture out, and by the end of eight sessions
she was well enough to start up her own business.
We all have our "hang-ups," but if they reach an obsessional stage,
go and seek help.
Geoffrey Knight is a professional hypnotherapist from London who
lives and practices in NW Portland and can be reached at (503) 246-7300.