Aviophobia, the fear of flying, affects thousands of travellers every year. The symptoms are familiar to any phobia sufferer. A cold sweat, difficulty breathing, nausea, and eventually hyperventilation are only exacerbated by the recycled air and pressurized cabin.
The same symptoms strike the arachnophobe when they see a spider and an agoraphobe when faced with the outdoors. These are symptoms of anxiety that arise when we feel physically in danger and threatened. The problem is that our response is misplaced in these situations; our physical body is not in danger, yet we experience symptoms of the classic fight-or-flight response.
The word phobia comes from the Greek word for fear and is used in modern English to denote irrational and inappropriate fears. A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It occurs when the inability to deal with a fear of commonplace activities or things overwhelms and becomes an integral part of daily life. A 2005 study shows that between 8.7% and 18.1% of Americans suffer from some sort of phobia .
To cope with phobias it is common to avoid situations where the phobia may be encountered. In many cases this means excluding an important part of one’s life because of the inability to face a feared experience. As an extreme example, Danish director Lars von Trier refuses to fly. Despite his films being featured at many American film festivals, von Trier has never attended He takes the train to any appearances in Europe.
There is a great deal of discussion as to where phobias originate. Often times the response appears to be a type of learned behaviour. They are a reaction to previous situations and interpretations of previous experiences. That phobias are learned doesn’t make them less ‘real’ but it does mean they can be unlearned. Recording thoughts and feelings associated with the phobia may help to excavate the origins of the fear.
In order to address and eliminate phobias, the fear must be confronted and new reactions associated with it. Before confronting the feared activity it is important to face the idea itself and begin to combat the feelings of anxiety attached with the anticipation. Also, breathing skills, relaxing techniques, self-hypnosis and concentration exercises are all useful tools that can be practiced before the necessary confrontation. Hypnosis can provide the skill-set necessary in this difficult situation.
The preparation will provide a foundation to cope with the fear when the phobia is addressed head on. These techniques will help to ‘re-program’ the brain so that the initial associations with negative panic responses are replaced with new calm thoughts and techniques. Often times this process can take a considerable amount of time, but in many cases only one session is necessary.
Terry Doherty works all over the UK working extensively with individual and business clients helping clients to stop smoking, manage weight, manage stress, become more confident and helping change many other issues. Terry uses the latest techniques of hypnosis, NLP and life coaching skills for profound change. He can be reached at http://www.mind-works.co.uk