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.
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 per cent of the population. And one in twenty people have panic attacks at some stage in their lives, quite commonly triggered by a phobia. There is little that conventional medical science can do for your phobia, other than prescribing an antidepressant drug.
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.
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 return flight.
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 destination.
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 15 minutes.
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.