0.0 Introduction
0.18 Anxiety generally
0.52 Specific phobia
1.16 2 ways phobia tends to develop
2.29 Phobia that develops over time
3.03 Learning fears from significant others
3.30 The flooding technique
4.30 Flooding and discomfort
4.47 Progressive desensitisation
5.03 Summary

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Hello, Alan Patching back with another post for Transforming Minds, and this time again we are following questions and comments made by followers of the blog – and this is from my past series on the blog, and one of the most common questions I’m asked is about anxieties.

There are basically five key areas of anxiety with several subtypes, and the reason I say several subtypes is because in the previous diagnostic manually put out by the Americans there were something like 198 mental disorders and now there’s 365, so clearly we are getting specific in the sub-categories etc.

But for most parts of the world of anxiety specifically, there are five specific different types of anxiety.

Now, one of those types is called ‘specific phobia’, and I’m probably getting more questions about phobias than on any other aspect of psychotherapy. People are sort of saying, ‘how can I get rid of phobias quickly?’ And the answer is it is possible with certain techniques from the world of NLP and Hypnotherapy, but it really gets down to how you got the phobia in the first place.

Now, in my experience there are two basic ways a phobia will develop. It will either develop very quickly from something that happens in your life – out of the blue – and you instantly develop the phobia of that thing. For example, if you had a fear of heights and you used to climb a ladder or something and you didn’t have a problem, then one day someone took you to a high rise building and you looked over the edge and it was just so much higher it was scary. Or maybe you were on a flight, which is a common one, and it went through some turbulence and up to that time you were fine flying but all of a sudden you felt, ‘oh my God, I don’t want to fly again’ … because the rest of the flight you felt you might be going to crash or whatever.

Public speaking is another one. Used to be able to speak in public and all of a sudden something went wrong and after then, you lost it and felt very nervous every time someone mentions speaking in public.

Now in that sense you learn the fear very quickly so – not guaranteed – but it is possible certain with Neuro-linguistic and hypnotherapy techniques that you can unlearn the fear quickly. And not everybody in the field of psychotherapy and psychology generally learns these techniques.

They are specific hypnotherapy and NLP techniques and they can be very effective and have had some very good results.

More likely most phobias, I think, tend to develop over a period of time. It’s said that we are born with two basic fears: The fear of falling and the fear of loud noises, and it’s a bit strange because you see the father with the child throwing it up in the air and catching it and the child gets caught and smiles and the dad says, ‘oh it’s having a good time’. But really the kids going, ‘my God – thank God I got caught because I had a fear of falling.’

So we get that one wrong.

But there are many other fears that we learn and it’s possible to learn them from other people, so for example, if your mother or father or close adults in your life show a fear of spiders or snakes of whatever, we might very well develop that same fear because we are learning from that early stage where there are authority figures in our life and our critical consciousness hasn’t developed to the point we can challenge it.

So, in the case where you’ve learnt that way and sometimes for quickly learnt phobias, normally there’s different techniques for dealing with it. And one technique that I get asked about a lot is called flooding.

Flooding basically says you expose yourself to the very thing that caused the fear and eventually the fear will be extinguished. Now, the theory behind it is quite simple. It’s simply that when we develop a fear for something it creates in our body a sematic reaction. In other words, we feel the nervousness, we feel the anxiety.

So, having felt the anxiety it makes us avoid the thing that we are scared of, and as we avoid it we are sort of building up the problem by avoiding it. ‘I didn’t get any more anxious so therefore it must be true that I need to be anxious about it’.

It’s sort of a convoluted emotional logic rather than a logical logic going on inside our brain.

However, if we expose ourself long enough to the situation and we find out that the fear isn’t going to have the affect it was going to have, eventually our brain will just say, ‘got that wrong’, and remove the concern.

Now, there’s a problem with it. Flooding can be very, very uncomfortable in the process and people with strong phobias won’t even expose themselves to the extent of the flooding necessary to solve the problem. So, that being the case, the therapy professionals come up with a different technique dealing with these sort of phobias, and we call it progressive desensitisation.

So, in our next blog post, I’ll explain to you how we deal with phobias using progressive desensitisation.

So, just in summary for now, there are a range of different anxiety disorders.

Generally, they develop in two ways; very, very quickly, in which case you may respond to an NLP technique called the rapid rewind technique or to hypnotherapy; and the other way we learn is slowly by watching parents and other significant persons when we were young, before we could develop critical consciousness.
We could go into a flooding situation and expose ourselves to the source of the fear until it extinguishes. More likel,y we are going to do it on a gentle basis and the technique for that is called progressive desensitisation and I’m going to explain that for you in our next post.

We will see you then! For now, I’m Alan Patching, thanks for watching.

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