Curing Arachnophobia and other Fears

Fears and phobias are no joke. They can be debilitating.

While a fear of flying (aviophobia) can often be lived with by using strategies such as…..err…not flying… or consuming large amounts of alcohol and Xanax prior to boarding, other fears are a little less avoidable.

I’ve workeEdvard Munch - The Screamd with clients who drive a vehicle as part of their work life. Either simply for commuting, or directly as a driver in their job. Driving anxiety is more common than one might think, and is often triggered by going through tunnels, over bridges, or simply being “walled in” on a highway. Most clients report the fear of having “no way out.” Fears such as this often snowball over time until they become unmanageable. And that’s generally the point people seek *desperate* measures such as hypnotherapy.

We call these kinds of fears “irrational” fears. Even though within these fears there always lies a tiny seed of a rational point of discomfort (crashing in a plane, peeing one’s pants while stuck in traffic, etc.), the irrational part is generally the scale of the fear that has been blown out of proportion.

While mainstream psychology might recommend “systematic desensitization,” which involves gradually increasing one’s exposure to the fearsome trigger so that the mind learns there is nothing to be afraid of, this often does not work, particularly in cases where people are already facing those fears on a regular basis, such as driving over a bridge or Xanaxing their way through otherwise unbearable flights. In such cases, hypnosis is the only effective way to eliminate such fears.

In hypnotherapy, we dig to find the root cause of the fear. Was it a childhood memory? A news story you read? A movie you watched? A story you heard? Sometimes just a small seed of an idea can become lodged in the mind and slowly grow over time to a full fledged phobia. This can be true even when we have consciously forgotten the initial cause. In hypnosis, the memory is enhanced, allowing a hypnotherapist to help you excavate such a root cause.

Once a root cause is found, we then use a variety of techniques to defuse the charge on that memory. Partially, this involves helping the mind file away that Little Miss Muffettinformation into the memory banks where it belongs so it no longer resurfaces through anxiety and disrupts your peaceful life.

When a root cause is not found, we move forward with reprogramming the subconscious around the trigger. The subconscious is there to protect us from harm, so disconnecting the trigger from the perceived danger is key. A subconscious association of “flying = death” can be changed to “flying = freedom”. Simply changing this association changes the feeling that is evoked at the thought or experience of flying, thereby completely and permanently collapsing the phobia.

For those with an intense fear of spiders, the London (UK) Zoo has a “Friendly Spider Programme” that boasts a high cure rate for arachnophobia. The programme uses a combination of hypnosis and real-live experiences with spiders, combining the best of known techniques. The Daily Mail newspaper sent one of its 8-legged-fearing reporters to check it out. His account is fascinating and amusing. Read it here.

And while that’s great that the London Zoo is doing that, it doesn’t do much for us over here across the pond. Especially if one has a fear of flying in addition to fear of spiders. And don’t even get me started on Snakes On A Plane. I sure hope that was fiction!

So if you or someone you know has a debilitating fear or phobia, chances are, hypnotherapy can help. If you’re on the fence, you can contact me so I can talk through it, or you can just go ahead and book a session.

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