Overcome a Phobia with Hypnotherapy
“One who is seized with terror, fright, and madness during the night is being visited by the Goddess of the Moon.”
Allegedly the words of Hippocrates in his teachings about the moon. Hippocrates was an ancient Greek physician known as the father of modern medicine. We’ll never really know whether he used the words terror and fright to describe a phobia of the moon (luna phobia / selenophobia), or noticed a difference in human behaviour during the full moon.
In 1995, a small research paper noted that almost half of the people asked (specifically mental health professionals) believe the moon affects human behaviour. The fight between the pull of the moon’s gravity and the pull of gravity from the earth literally moves oceans. The pull depends on the distance between the moon and earth, and the alignment of the earth, moon, and sun. Sadly, for the more mystical thinkers among us, it doesn’t move smaller bodies of water, such as lakes and even some seas.
Hippocrates wrote about phobias in his works. He described the symptoms and manifestations of several types of phobias, including agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), acrophobia (fear of heights), and hydrophobia (fear of water).
Hippocrates noted that individuals with phobias often experience physical symptoms, such as sweating, trembling, and rapid heartbeat, when faced with the object or situation that triggered their fear. He also observed that phobias can develop without any obvious cause or trigger, and that they can feel extremely debilitating for those who suffer from them.
Hippocrates’ work on phobias was influential in shaping the understanding of these conditions in ancient Greece and beyond. His insights have continued to inform the study and treatment of phobias throughout the centuries.
Overcome a Phobia with Hypnotherapy
In the 19th century, the French psychiatrist Jean-Martin Charcot made significant contributions to the study of phobias. He distinguished them from other forms of anxiety, and identified them as a distinct clinical entity. Charcot observed that phobias can develop in the absence of a traumatic event or negative experience. And that they often involve irrational and exaggerated fears. However, the physical and emotional response to a phobic trigger is the same as anxiety.
The visceral reaction of anxiety comes from the autonomic nervous system. It includes an increase in adrenaline, rapid or deep breathing. An increase in sweating, and a rapid heartbeat. Surface level blood vessels constrict and there is a flushing of the skin. Blood pressure increases and the mouth goes dry, in addition, the muscles tense. These feelings feel uncomfortable, designed to make you flee or fight the perceived danger. Most people do exactly this. In modern life, most phobias are unnecessary and end up restricting rather than saving the phobic person.
Hypnotherapy will help you overcome a phobia in three ways.
Dealing with the Root Cause
Some phobias appear to stem from nowhere, and others are innate with logical reasoning, such as the fear of animals we should feel wary of. However, often a phobia develops after a negative experience. Some hypnotherapists will help you find the root cause of your phobia and reframe it in your mind. Using hypnosis and visualisation, you can change the way your brain files the trigger, so it no longer perceives future similar experiences as a threat to your life.
When you have a phobia, it’s the effect of the phobia you aim to avoid, rather than the thing itself. The fear of fear becomes more terrifying than anything else. Your hypnotherapist will teach you a toolbox of techniques that you can use to manage the manifestations of fear. Ideally, the therapy will stop the phobia altogether, but when you know you have a way to manage it, you will feel more confident to ‘test out’ whether the therapy helped you overcome a phobia.
For example, if you fear flying and have some hypnotherapy sessions, you may still worry about booking a flight in case you feel uncomfortable on the flight. With coping techniques to manage the discomfort, you’ll have the confidence to book a flight, knowing you’re likely to feel calm, but if not, you’ll be ok.
Forward Focused Approach
Your hypnotherapist will use a therapeutic modality, such as CBT or NLP, in combination with hypnotherapy, to help you take on a new way of thinking about your specific phobic trigger. As you know very well, no amount of rational thinking changes the way you react to your phobia. This is because your brain stores the perception of danger in the primitive, unconscious part, which acts instinctually and takes full control of you, no matter how human you try to be! With hypnotherapy, you can use the power of your imagination to teach your brain that the situation is safe. In combination with the coping techniques above, you’ll open the door to a world of new, fearless experiences for yourself.