DEFINITION AND SYMPTOMS OF PHOBIAS: A phobia can be defined as an illogical fear or dread. When a person experiences a panic attack, they get panicky feelings; their breathing and heart rates increase; they may experience feeling choked up like their heart is in their throat; their palms often get sweaty; they may experience a ringing in their ears; and they often find that they are unable to take part in an activity. These feelings motivate the individual to try to avoid the situations and places that cause them. EXAMPLES OF COMMON PHOBIAS: For example, if someone has an irrational fear of driving, they would exhibit these symptoms at the time they endeavor to drive, or perhaps even when they think about driving. Or a terror attack may happen only when driving in specific places like across railroad tracks. The fear of talking in front of a group of people is a comparatively widespread phobia. The frightened feelings appear when the sufferer begins to talk in front of a person that they are frightened by, or they might perhaps experience frightened feelings only when in front of a group of other people. The size of the assembly will vary. This phobia can be set off by fears of inadequacy, or a lack of self-esteem. Those who suffer from a social phobia can get horrifically nervous just being around other folks, even people they recognize. It’s a fear that they will be criticized or evaluated by others. This fear can be set off by any kind of social relations. A person could be waiting on line at a supermarket and get stressful feelings as they imagine having to talk to the cashier while they checkout. The fear of taking a test (which is universally known as test anxiety) is quite a common phobia. A phobia to taking tests is rooted in comparing yourself to other folks, and is deeply rooted in a fear of failing. People have experienced irrational fears to every sort of experience and environment under the sun. For example: Snakes; bugs; relationships; flying; small enclosed places; animals; high places; death; and even the great outdoors. Agoraphobia is generally thought to be a fear of open spaces. However, this definition is extremely confusing because Agoraphobics are really afraid of having a panic attack, wherever and whenever. This phobia is developed when a person begins to avoid places or situations they have associated with anxiety. For example, they could have a panic attack at home, church, or in a supermarket. For people who suffer with phobias, once their panic attacks have begun, they begin to anticipate them to happen. And this anticipation actually causes them to occur with increasing frequency. Other folks experience fearful feelings on a continuous basis. These feelings cause an overall discomfort, rather than panic. FORMS OF TREATMENT THAT ARE AVAILABLE DRUGS: Some physicians care for their patients using sedatives, which can make the condition worse over prolonged treatment. Sedatives do not treat the underlying cause of a phobia; they only camouflage some of the symptoms. TALK THERAPY: Some schools of therapy prescribe “Talk Therapy.” Talk therapy is only talking about what is bothering you. Unfortunately, talking about or even thinking about the situation or environment that sets off a phobia can trigger a panic attack! HYPNOTHERAPY: Traditional hypnosis has been used to treat phobias, but with only meager success. Traditional hypnotic therapy is accomplished when the therapist guides the subject into a relaxed state of self hypnosis and gives the client post-hypnotic commands or suggestions. Since most people in this generation question and resist direct suggestions, they also reject the idea that they will be more relaxed and at ease when they encounter the situation or environment that triggers their panic attacks. SYSTEMATIC DESENSITIZATION: Systematic Desensitization is the process of slowly desensitizing a phobic person to the environment or circumstances that sets off a panic attack. For example, if a woman wants to dive from a high board but she fears it, she is asked to first dive from a height that she feels confident about. She dives in and realizes that she did not get hurt and that she is secure. Next she is asked to dive in from the bottom step of the ladder going up to the high diving board. Again, she dives in and realizes that she wasn’t hurt and that she is again safe and secure. Over a period of time the subject is asked to dive in from progressively higher steps on the ladder. Each time she dives in and realizes that nothing bad happened and that she is safe and secure, she is able to move up to the next rung on the ladder. If she experiences the sensation of fear, then she is asked to move back down one rung on the ladder and dive from there until she feels complete comfort and security. In the end she makes it to the top of the ladder and dives in from the high board itself. SYSTEMATIC DESENSITIZATION WHILE IN THE STATE OF HYPNOSIS: Systematic Desensitization can be done virtually while in a hypnotic state with as good as or even better results. While in a relaxed state of hypnosis, the woman would be asked to envision herself diving in from each step on the ladder. She would be asked to visualize herself feeling relaxed and confident as she dives in. Since she is in fact disassociated while picturing herself, she is unable to trigger a phobic attack. Next she is asked to associate, or put the camera inside of her head so she would be seeing what she would see through her own eyes if she was actually diving in from each step of the ladder. She is asked to imagine feeling safe and relaxed as she dives in. Just as in a live (in vivo) systematic desensitization, if she feels any panic she is asked to go back to the previous lower step on the ladder and visualize diving in from there. She might be taught to create a kinesthetic (feeling or touch) “anchor” of feelings of security and safety. She could then trigger that anchor while imagining that she is diving, and the feelings of safety and security could be subjectively transferred to the act of diving. Systematic Desensitization while in a hypnotic state can be very useful and totally successful, but is can also be slow and take several hypnotic sessions to bring about a cure. NLP V/K DISASSOCIATION: Neuro-Linguistic Programming is fundamentally the study and practice of how we create our reality. The V/K stands for visual / kinesthetic. The V/K Disassociation is a technique that allows a trained NLP Practitioner to guide a subject through specific visual imagery that quickly and in many cases instantly disconnects or disassociates the feelings of freight from the trigger or phobia that causes them. The V/K Disassociation is known as the “One session phobia cure” in Neuro-Linguistic Programming circles, and with good reason. CONCLUSION: Irrational fears are common in our culture. They are fears that are not based in reality. There are many ways of treating phobias, but thus far in my view, the best finest available are Systematic Desensitization while hypnotized, and the Neuro-Linguistic Programming V/K Disassociation technique.