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It doesn't matter what your phobia is, whether you are scared of dogs, flying, alien abduction, making a presentation or death, the end result is the same. You are frightened. You cannot "get over it" or "pull yourself together" or "be a man about it" (or be a woman about it). The simple reason is that:
fear + fear + fear = FEAR
FEAR + FEAR + FEAR = FEAR
Fear accumulates and grows in size - the more times you become exposed to the fear the worse it will become. People can become paralysed by their fears, this isn't the same as superstitions such as not walking under a ladder.
Everyone, but everyone has a fear - the person who says that they are not frightened of anything is mistaken unless of course they are brain-damaged in some way, and their fear-centre doesn't light up.
In your brain you have two hot buttons (amygdalae) that respond to situations where they think your life is in danger by giving you a huge dose of adrenalin, your heart beats much faster and your muscles are prepared for the Fight or Flight Syndrome. So, basically you either stand and fight the hungry lion or run away from it very fast. As we don't have many wild lions in the UK, being late for work, someone pulling out in front of you unexpectedly, moving house, changing job, getting married, getting divorced, being made redundant, bereavement and a thousand other little stresses will all help to trigger the response.
There is a third case of the syndrome - Fright! Basically you are trapped, can't run away and can't fight either. You might have to give a speech, confront a spider, have a wasp in the conservatory, have to fly to go on holiday. These are everyday fears - simple phobias. Fear of redundancy, fear of dying or someone else dying are more complicated because there are more factors involved and most of them are beyond your control as you wait for the weeks and days to countdown to the fatal moment.
It isn't even that you are frightened of the thing that terrorises you!
Under the right circumstances you could learn to be afraid of anything, a paper-clip, a coffee mug, a piece of tissue paper, the colour green and thousands of other innocent objects and pastimes that we all take for granted. The really important thing is that the spider / paper-clip /speech etc. is a symbol that reminds you of a time when you were frightened but you have forgotten what the link between the fear and the symbol is.
Everyone thinks that I am mad because I am terrorised by candy-floss - I'm not mad am I?
No - it's simply that you can't remember what the circumstances were when you learned to be very frightened and candy-floss just happened to be in the picture somewhere. It's usually quite a straightforward thing to find out the reasons why.
A simple example of this might be a fear of paper tissues - as a child perhaps you were always made to carry a paper hanky with you to school, so that you could blow your nose or use it if you wanted to sneeze. One day you forgot about the hanky, until you were half-way to school, you ran back (and started up the "fight or flight syndrome" with lots of adrenalin) for the tissue and got hit by a car. Tissues then become the symbol of the fear rather than the car, but it could just as easily be a fear of the Lollipop Man on the crossing, or a more obvious fear of traffic.
What happens if I'm not frightened of anything at all?
You are very unusual or too use the jargon, "you are probably in denial!" It might be that you are burying your fears in unusual behaviours that help you avoid your fears e.g. drinking, gambling, food disorders, sleep problems, extreme shopping or other coping behaviours. Most people have something - it is part of the human condition!
quite easily, some are more complicated as
there can be related issues, eg in the case of the hanky phobia, the
person may have had little confidence as a result, it is hard not to
notice hankiesor paper tissues during the Winter flu season or the
Summer when hay-fever strikes. During the sessions you will also learn
coping mechanisms to help you not only with your phobias but with other
areas of difficulty you may have as well.
the most deep-seated phobias can be sorted out fairly easily and often
it only takes between 2 and 4 sessions -and you'll probably find out
how you got it and realise that it won't come back ever. In the case of
the child being hit by the car when dashing back home to get a hanky -
it's most unlikely that a grown up person is going to run back home for
a hanky because they are worried about being shouted at by the
teacher!! But people act as if it was true - as if they were stuck or
frozen at a particular age - like 5 years old when confronted by a
hanky or paper tissue.
Please ask if you have a question - most phobias are quite straightforward to resolve and then you can enjoy life more!
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