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This example, related by Dr. Brian M. Alman in Self-Hypnosis, shows how gradual desensitizing can cure phobias through self-hypnosis.
The subject is an individual whose agoraphobia (fear of open places) was so severe it was very difficult for her to leave her home, and she had to have someone with her when she did. Two years of psychotherapy helped somewhat, but she was still afraid to leave her home
She first gave herself suggestions for relaxation and practiced in the bedroom, where she felt safest. Soon she was able to practice self-hypnosis in the kitchen and then was able to move to the living room.
A week of practicing in the living room, and she was ready to go into the back yard to practice. She had been practicing daily for about a month, with a first goal of learning to relax and feel comfortable.
Next she visualized precisely the action of going out to visit a neighbor. She spent many weeks rehearsing trips before actually going out. Three months after beginning self-hypnosis, she was able to go to the shopping center. She continued, and after a year of practice was leading a relatively normal life.
Not every phobia requires this much time or this much persistence, and some may even require more, but for this case, the subject deserves a lot of credit. She is justified in being proud of herself and thinking she can now accomplish many things.
This was a severe incidence, in which the phobia essentially controlled the person's life. It was worth the time and effort.
Self-hypnosis can work for phobias, but it doesn't work overnight.