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A phobia is an unreasonabale fear of just about anything. Common ones are fear of spiders (arachnophobia), snakes, and being closed in (claustrophobia). There is even fear of fear (phobophobia).
The exact cause of phobias is not known, according to WebMD, "but most appear to be associated with a traumatic experience or a learned reaction." So you might be afraid of dogs because one bit you when you were a kid, or if your mother was afraid of dogs. Sounds like fixed ideas to me.
How you want to deal with phobias depends on the severity of the phobia and how likely you are to encounter it.
If you have a mild case of claustrophobia that results in you choosing to walk up two flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator, you may not want it on the top of your self-hypnosis to-do list. If you're afraid of snakes but spend most of your time in the city, it probably is not a great concern. Note that it makes sense to be a little afraid of rattlesnakes and king cobras. The problem occurs when you are terrified of little garter snakes and become frightened when you even see a photo of a snake.
Fear of flying is a rather common phobia. There are several theories as to what causes it. It may be a form of claustrophobia, loss of control, or distrust of airlines. Or it could be a fixed idea, as we have discussed. It will be easier to treat with self-hypnosis if you can identify what you're really afraid of. Then you can create a suggestion that will help you conquer the phobia. Even if you can't pinpoint the cause, you can use self-hypnosis to get over your fear by creating in your mind a feeling of comfort and safety when flying.
There ae different approaches to curing phobias. One is to slowly expose yourself to the subject of your fear. (One of my friends cured himself of fear of spiders by getting a pet tarantula.) Behavioral therapy can work and sometimes drugs are used, though I don't see drugs as really curing the problem, but that is just my opinion.
You have to use an incremental approach in treating phobias. Don't be in a hurry. A case study of someone who used self-hypnosis to cure agoraphobia is included in the practicing section as an example.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|