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Phobias and Fears

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1996 Mindscape Limited

Designed By David Lloyd-Hoare Bsc(Hons) MBACP(Accred) INLPTA

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What Is Fear?

Fear is one of the most basic human emotions. It is programmed into the nervous system and works like an instinct. From the time we're infants, we are equipped with the survival instincts necessary to respond with fear when we sense danger or feel unsafe.

Fear helps protect us. It makes us alert to danger and prepares us to deal with it. Feeling afraid is very natural, and helpful  in some situations. Fear can be like a warning, a signal that cautions us to be careful.

Like all emotions, fear can be mild, medium, or intense, depending on the situation and the person. A feeling of fear can be brief or it can last longer.

How Fear Works

When we sense danger, the brain reacts instantly, sending signals that activate the nervous system. This causes physical responses, such as a faster heartbeat, rapid breathing, and an increase in blood pressure. Blood pumps to muscle groups to prepare the body for physical action (such as running or fighting). Skin sweats to keep the body cool. Some people might notice sensations in the stomach, head, chest, legs, or hands. These physical sensations of fear can be mild or strong.

This response is known as "fight or flight" because that is exactly what the body is preparing itself to do: fight off the danger or run fast to get away. The body stays in this state of fight-flight until the brain receives an "all clear" message and turns off the response.

Sometimes fear is triggered by something that is startling or unexpected (like a loud noise), even if it's not actually dangerous. That's because the fear reaction is activated instantly, a few seconds faster than the thinking part of the brain can process or evaluate what's happening. As soon as the brain gets enough information to realise there's no danger ("Oh, it's just a balloon bursting ; whew!"), it turns off the fear reaction. All this can happen in seconds.

Fears People Have

Fear is the word we use to describe our emotional reaction to something that seems dangerous. But the word "fear" is used in another way, too: to name something a person often feels afraid of.

People fear things or situations that make them feel unsafe or unsure. For instance, someone who isn't a strong swimmer might have a fear of deep water. In this case, the fear is helpful because it cautions the person to stay safe. Someone could overcome this fear by learning how to swim safely.

A fear can be healthy if it cautions a person to stay safe around something that could be dangerous. But sometimes a fear is unnecessary and causes more caution than the situation calls for.

Many people have a fear of public speaking. Whether it's giving a report in class, speaking at an assembly, or reciting lines in the school play, speaking in front of others is one of the most common fears people have.

People tend to avoid the situations or things they fear. But this doesn't help them overcome fear , in fact, it can be the reverse. Avoiding something scary reinforces a fear and keeps it strong.

People can overcome unnecessary fears by giving themselves the chance to learn about and gradually get used to the thing or situation they're afraid of. For example, people who fly despite a fear of flying can become used to unfamiliar sensations like takeoff or turbulence. They learn what to expect and have a chance to watch what others do to relax and enjoy the flight. Gradually (and safely) facing fear helps someone overcome it.

Fears During Childhood

Certain fears are normal during childhood. That's because fear can be a natural reaction to feeling unsure and vulnerable, and much of what children experience is new and unfamiliar.

Young kids often have fears of the dark, being alone, strangers, and monsters or other scary imaginary creatures. School-aged kids might be afraid when it's stormy or at a first sleep over. As they grow and learn, with the support of adults, most kids are able to slowly conquer these fears and outgrow them.

Some kids are more sensitive to fears and may have a tough time overcoming them. When fears last beyond the expected age, it might be a sign that someone is overly fearful, worried, or anxious. People whose fears are too intense or last too long might need help and support to overcome them.


A phobia is an intense fear reaction to a particular thing or a situation. With a phobia, the fear is out of proportion to the potential danger. But to the person with the phobia, the danger feels real because the fear is so very strong.

Examples of Phobias

Betty is terrified of flying. Unfortunately, she has to travel a lot for work, and this travelling takes a terrible toll. For weeks before every trip, she has a knot in her stomach and a feeling of anxiety that won’t go away. On the day of the flight, she wakes up feeling like she’s going to throw up. Once she’s on the plane, her heart pounds, she feels lightheaded, and she starts to hyperventilate. Every time it gets worse and worse.

Betty’s fear of flying has become so bad that she finally told her employer she can only travel to places within driving distance. Her employer was not happy about this, and Betty’s not sure what will happen at work. She’s afraid she’ll be demoted or lose her job altogether. But better that, she tells herself, than getting on a plane again.

A phobia is an intense fear of something that, in reality, poses little or no actual danger. Common phobias and fears include closed-in places, heights, highway driving, flying insects, snakes, and needles. However, we can develop phobias of virtually anything. Most phobias develop in childhood, but they can also develop in adults. If you have a phobia, you probably realise that your fear is unreasonable, yet you still can’t control your feelings. Just thinking about the feared object or situation may make you anxious. And when you’re actually exposed to the thing you fear, the terror is automatic and overwhelming.

The experience is so nerve-wracking that you may go to great lengths to avoid it, inconveniencing yourself or even changing your lifestyle. If you have claustrophobia, for example, you might turn down a lucrative job offer if you have to ride in a lift to get to the office. If you have a fear of heights, you might drive an extra twenty miles in order to avoid a tall bridge.

Understanding your phobia is the first step to overcoming it. It’s important to know that phobias are common. Having a phobia doesn’t mean you’re crazy! It also helps to know that phobias are highly treatable. You can overcome your anxiety and fear, no matter how out of control it feels. Other example of phobias are:


Agoraphobia is the fear of being alone in any place or situation from which it seems escape would be difficult or help unavailable should the need arise. People with agoraphobia avoid being on busy streets or in crowded stores etc. Some people with agoraphobia become so disabled they literally will not leave their homes. If they do, they do so only with great distress or when accompanied by a friend or family member. The onset may be sudden or gradual.

Most people with agoraphobia develop the disorder after first suffering from one or more spontaneous panic attacks (feelings of intense, overwhelming terror accompanied by symptoms such as sweating, shortness of breath, or faintness). These attacks seem to occur randomly and without warning, making it impossible for a person to predict what situation will trigger such a reaction. The unpredictability of the panic attacks "trains" individuals to anticipate future panic attacks and, therefore, to fear any situation in which an attack may occur. As a result, they avoid going into any place or situation where previous panic attacks have occurred.

Social Phobia

A person with social phobia fears being watched or humiliated while doing something in front of others. As a result, he or she avoids any situation in which such activity may be required. The most common social phobia is the fear of speaking in public. Many people have a generalized form of social phobia, in which they fear and avoid interpersonal interactions. This makes it difficult for them to go to work or school or to socialize at all. Social phobias generally develop after puberty and peak after the age of 30.

Specific Phobia

As the name implies, people with a specific phobia generally have an irrational fear of specific objects or situations.The disability caused by this phobia can be severe if the feared object or situation is a common one. The most common specific phobia in the general population is fear of animals, particularly dogs, snakes, insects, and mice. Other specific phobias are fear of closed spaces (claustrophobia) and fear of heights (acrophobia). Most simple phobias develop during childhood and eventually disappear. Those that persist into adulthood rarely go away without treatment.

Almost everyone has an irrational fear or two. Some get nervous at the thought of needles. Others shriek at the sight of a mouse. Still others get woozy when they look down from tall buildings. For most people, these fears are minor. But for some, these fears are so severe that they cause tremendous anxiety and interfere with normal day-to-day life.

When fears are irrational and disabling, they are called phobias. If you have a phobia that’s keeping you from doing things you’d like to do and living the life you want, take heart. Phobias can be managed and cured. Self-help strategies and therapy can help you overcome your fears and get on with your life.

Signs and Symptoms of Phobias

The symptoms of a phobia can range from mild feelings of apprehension and anxiety to a full-blown panic attack. Typically, the closer you are to the thing you’re afraid of, the greater your fear will be. Your fear will also be higher if getting away is difficult.

Physical signs and symptoms of a phobia

Difficulty breathing

Racing or pounding heart

Chest pain or tightness

Trembling or shaking

 Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

A churning stomach

Hot or cold flashes; tingling sensations


Emotional signs and symptoms of a phobia

Feeling of overwhelming anxiety or panic

Feeling an intense need to escape

Feeling “unreal” or detached from yourself

 Fear of losing control or going crazy

Feeling like you’re going to die or pass out

Knowing that you’re overreacting, but feeling powerless to control your fear

It can be exhausting and upsetting to feel the intense fear that goes with having a phobia. It can be disappointing to miss out on opportunities because fear is holding you back. And it can be confusing and embarrassing to feel afraid of things that others seem to have no problem with.

What Causes Phobias?

Some phobias develop when someone has a scary experience with a particular thing or situation. A tiny brain structure called the amygdala keeps track of experiences that trigger strong emotions. Once a certain thing or situation triggers a strong fear reaction, the amygdala warns the person by triggering a fear reaction every time he or she encounters (or even thinks about) that thing or situation.

Someone might develop a bee phobia after being stung during a particularly scary situation. For that person, looking at a photograph of a bee, seeing a bee from a distance, or even walking near flowers where there could be a bee can all trigger the phobia.

Sometimes, though, there may be no single event that causes a particular phobia. Some people may be more sensitive to fears because of personality traits they are born with, certain genes they've inherited, or situations they've experienced. People who have had strong childhood fears or anxiety may be more likely to have one or more phobias.

Having a phobia isn't a sign of weakness or immaturity. It's a response the brain has learned in an attempt to protect the person. It's as if the brain's alert system triggers a false alarm, generating intense fear that is out of proportion to the situation. Because the fear signal is so intense, the person is convinced the danger is greater than it actually is.

Phobia Self-Test

Phobias, illogical yet powerful fears, affect more than one in eight people in western civilisations at some time. Phobias are the most common kind of anxiety disorder. If you suspect that you might suffer from a phobia, complete the following self-test by answering each question.

How can I tell if it’s a phobia?

Yes or no? Are you troubled by:

Powerful and ongoing fear of social situations involving unfamiliar people?  

Fear of  situations where getting help or escape might be difficult, such as in a crowd?   

Shortness of breath or a racing heart for no apparent reason?                                                    

Persistent and unreasonable fear of an object or situation, such as flying, heights, animals, etc.?

Being unable to travel alone, without a companion?

If you answered  yes to the above questions, it could indicate a phobia which may be helped by counselling or psychotherapy

Having more than one illness at the same time can make it difficult to diagnose and treat the different conditions. Illnesses that sometimes complicate anxiety disorders include depression and substance abuse. With this in mind, please take a minute to answer the following questions:

Have you experienced changes in sleeping or eating habits?

More days than not, do you feel:

sad or depressed?

uninterested in life?

worthless or guilty?

During the last year, has the use of alcohol or drugs:

resulted in your failure to fulfil responsibilities with work, school, or family?                      

placed you in a dangerous situation, such as driving a car under the influence?                 

caused you to be arrested?                                                                                        

continued despite causing problems for you and/or your loved ones?

Answering yes to the above questions could indicate depression or an addictive problem which may complicate the phobia, and may be helped by counselling or psychotherapy

Any phobia that interferes with daily living and creates extreme disability should be treated. With proper treatment, the vast majority of phobia patients can completely overcome their fears and be symptom free for years, if not for life.

How to Cure your Phobia

Through the use of Hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), EMDR and NLP, I can reassure you that I will eliminate your phobia quickly and easily, leaving you free to see the source of your old unwanted fear in a far more rational, resourceful and often humorous way.

You don’t have to suffer any more. You don’t have to give up control of your life to anxiety or medications. You don’t have to live in fear. You can beat your worry, anxiety, depression and panic attacks.


Now you can gain control of your life and your health without drugs… achieve your life’s ambitions without anxiety holding you back… and overcome these physical symptoms.


Imagine that, after just one session, the subject of your phobia no longer having that extreme and debilitating power over you, but rather being something that you are able to laugh at!

Over the years I have successfully treated all kinds of phobias using a tried and tested method known as the Fast Phobia Cure. Phobias I have treated include fears of spiders, needles, cats, lifts, dentists, buttons and clowns to name just few, always leaving my clients altogether more relaxed and more confident in those specific situations where they used to be extremely anxious or panicky.

What Makes My Methods to Overcome Phobias different?

 What NLP has done is firstly to discover, of how programmes are installed into our brains and secondly how using simple methods we are able to replace the bad limiting programmes with more productive and beneficial programmes.


Now what the experts have discovered is that if you are suffering from phobias or any other issue, in order to solve it, you will need to be replacing the old set of programmes for a new more beneficial set of programmes.


This is what I have been successfully doing for the last 14 years in my therapy practice with my own clients, from curing simple phobias, to some chronic cases of anxiety, all of which I’ve helped using the same methods and techniques.

The Fast Phobia Cure Program is one of the techniques taken from NLP and is unique because it treats the cause, not the symptoms.

Many traditional phobia treatments, including drugs, attempt to deal with the phobia by masking it or by calming things down after the response pattern has triggered. After the panic. They treat the symptoms, not the cause.

Or they require you to confront your fears head on or change your thoughts, which although effective, can be very challenging and can take quite some time to effect a cure.

But the Fast Phobia Cure is unique because it treats the cause by removing the underlying pattern that drives your phobia. And without the pattern there is no phobia. So it does what it says, it really cures phobias.

How It Works

So if The Fast Phobia Cure is nothing to do with relaxation techniques, challenging your thoughts or facing your fear, how does it work?

Well, you know that logic, reason and willpower have never helped with your phobia. That's because it's the other part of your mind that drives the phobia, the unconscious creative, imaginative, irrational part. And your imagination will always be stronger than logic and reason. So the key to changing the phobia is to work with rather than against the creative unconscious mind.


At some point your creative unconscious mind got an idea that the feared object or situation was "life-threatening". Since then it has attached all kinds of feelings of discomfort, anxiety and panic to that thing or situation to make you avoid going anywhere near it in future, thus, by its own kind of logic, keeping you "safe". It has probably been quite successful in this.

To cure the phobia, this part of your mind simply needs the chance to re-evaluate that thing or situation as non-threatening. The Fast Phobia Cure gives it that chance by using its own strength, your powerful imagination, against itself to creatively change and de-condition the pattern in a safe and comfortable way so it won't trigger again. The phobia is gone.

The Fast Phobia Cure Program is not a course. It's a direct treatment program and you get the best available treatment

I believe the Fast Phobia Cure is the best treatment available because it's rapid, safe and permanent. My own clinical experience, and that of many other leading therapists, is that it will almost always successfully treat phobias in one session. More and more research is supporting this.

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