Sunday, May 10, 2009

PHOBIAS from A to Z - Part 3

In this, the third posting on Phobias, I write about how hypnosis can help with the removal of phobias; the hypnotic method I use to control and eliminate phobias and a case study of a client who had a lifelong fear of the water but no longer has Hydrophobia - Fear of water.

How hypnosis helps

There are many “tools” a hypnotherapist has at his disposal. I tend to combine different tools to make the most effective therapy for each client.

No two people are the same, so through combining different proven therapies and techniques, I offer each client an individualized plan of action; this is at the core of “Transpersonal Hypnotherapy”.

I have found that the most powerful and effective method of eliminating phobias is to combine two different hypnotic techniques; “Parts Therapy” and “Regression Therapy”.

Parts Therapy, is a technique developed in the 1950’s by Charles Tebbetts, a hypnotherapist who found that you can have a dialog with a “Part” of a person’s subconscious.

Regression Therapy is a hypnotic technique used to have a person go back in time to where the fear started.

Combining the two works very effectively to find the memory that caused the phobia and then with other therapies, eliminate the fear and give back control to the person.

Under hypnosis, a person with a phobia is directed to a comfortable place and given the suggestion that they are safe and have survived whatever caused the fear.

Once I determine the source of the phobia and more importantly the person remembers what had been a repressed memory, the power and fear the memory had had is greatly diminished.

Case Study on Hydrophobia - Sue

This is a case study of a young woman who was able to overcome her lifelong fear of the water with one hypnosis session.

Sue (not her real name) called, asking about the effectiveness of hypnosis for stopping a phobia of water. She described her fear as “not afraid of showers, but I never take a bath!” Her voice shook as she even mentioned a bath.

She continued describing how she never goes in a pool or the beach, that she can’t swim and was deathly afraid of being on a boat.

We made an appointment for the following Monday. It would be our first and only session.

At the beginning of her session, she relayed how the phobia was being controlled by avoiding the places where she would be around water.

“I have been able to deal really well with the fear, I just don’t go in a pool, a lake, the beach or the ocean. I take showers instead of a bath. I never put myself in a situation when I would take a cruise or be on the water. So I felt that I didn’t need any help, I dealt with the fear by avoiding water and I was fine. But I now have a major problem and it will ruin my life if I can’t fix it.”

She relayed to me that she is a single mother of a nine year old boy.
She is engaged to a wonderful man who loves her and her son.
Her fiancée wants to marry her and adopt her son.

She described a perfect relationship and then informed me of the majorly huge hurdle in her life.

“He has a house on Lake Hopatcong, with a dock and a speed boat” she said as if telling me he had a terminal disease.

“He loves his boat! He is on the lake every weekend and all summer long!
His friends, who I love, all have boats!
Our whole social life is on the water!
My son loves being there with him and he wants me to go out so badly, but as soon as I step foot on the dock, I start to shake!
Once he actually had to carry me off the dock!

I told her that hypnosis can help.

Fortunately, she was an excellent hypnotic subject, who went almost immediately into a very deep state of hypnosis.
As I described earlier, I brought out her “fearful part” and had that part of her “Regress” - go back in time to the very first time she was aware of her hydrophobia.

Without going into great detail, I had her go to a time when she wasn’t afraid of water and then “Progressed” her to a time when she was fearful.

As I observed her, a memory reflected through the expression on her face.

“I was 9 years old…” she said in a faint whisper.

“My parents wanted me to learn how to swim, so we went to the lake (Hopatcong) and they hired a lifeguard to teach me…”

“Oh my God, I see it all so clearly…” she said, her eyes closed, yet I could see her eyes moving left and right.

“We went into the water which was up to my neck. The lifeguard held me so I was on my stomach. He told me to breathe when he said I should and he held my face in the water and turned my head up yelling


He kept holding my head underwater, pulling me out only when I was choking!...”

Whispering, “I never remembered that until this very moment”, tears streaming down her face.

I then did some hypnotic techniques called “Reframing” where she gained back the control that had been taken from her.

After the session, she thanked me and I told her the only way she will know for sure that she is phobia free is to test herself on the boat. She agreed, with the comment, I'll call you for another appointment if it doesn't work.

That weekend my phone rang and it was Sue, she was on her cell phone.

There was a lot of noise in the background.

“Garry?” she said.

“I wanted to thank you for saving my life!”

I think she was exaggerating, but the feeling you get when you realize a joy-draining phobia is eliminated can make a person exaggerate a little.

“I am calling from the boat!"

"Me and my new family we are on the lake! I can’t believe it… It is so much fun! Thank you so much!”

If you are plagued by a phobia, you don’t have to deal with it, you can eliminate it and realize how much better your life can be phobia-free!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

PHOBIAS from A to Z - Part 2

Synopsis; In this, the second posting on Phobias, I write about how the natural process of the primitive part of the brain contributes to the acquisition of phobias; how phobias form; the hypnotic method I use to control and eliminate phobias.

In the last posting “Phobias from A to Z – Part 1”, I describe how the primitive brain effects the “Fight or Flight” instinct.
In the cave man example, you can see how, because it was so necessary to react instantly to perceived threats, the functioning of the primitive brain was essential for survival of the human race.

Keep in mind, that the cause (the killing of a clan member) of the Fight or Flight instinct would be repressed.

The horror of witnessing the killing of a loved one would be blocked from the awareness of the young clan member by their subconscious.

However, the reaction to seeing a jaguar (the symbol of the horror) would result in an immediate, critical and unthinking response.
You may say that the young clan member had a phobia of jaguars.

In modern society, the threat to your survival is much more complex than those of ancient times. Say what you will, the society we live in today is obviously more civil than that of primitive times. The human brain has also advanced, but still, at its’ core is the same primitive brain stem that helped our ancient ancestors to survive and become the modern day human being.

Our subconscious has many functions, not all are yet known to us. It is a protector, a servant, and the storehouse of knowledge, memories, emotions, habits and much more.

Referring again, to the caveman analogy from Part 1, you can see why the function of repressing the horrific memory, while automatically causing a fight or flight reaction, was critical to survival.

However, in a society where we are not threatened with life or death on a daily basis, the function that was essential to the survival of a primitive man is now, in a modern society, contributing to the manifestation of so many phobias.

How do phobias form?

Generally speaking, phobias can form in two ways.
In an adult, a phobia can form after a severe traumatic experience, such as a plane crash or a life threatening accident. In a traumatic experience, you can understand how a phobia could start. These phobias are usually temporary and fade with time.

Phobias formed in childhood are much more common and devastating.
When a child, between two and seven is witness to a traumatic experience (or a perceived traumatic experience) their primitive brain stem reacts the same as a primitive man; repressing the specific memory and triggering the “Fight or Flight Response”.
The memory of the traumatic incident is buried or repressed, again, by the subconscious, but the reaction to seeing the symbol of the trauma is reacted to in the same way our ancestors did.

Each time the repressed memory is stirred, whether by seeing or experiencing something that would stir that memory, the phobic reaction is stirred.
The reaction stirred by these repressed memories present themselves as phobias, each time the repressed memory is stimulated.
The phobic person will feel a variety of emotions, from mild discomfort to a full-blown panic attack.

Phobic Commonalities
“…I always had the fear of public speaking. Every time I needed to speak in front of people, my face would get red hot, I’d sweat… my voice would shake, I couldn’t breath. I assumed that I had ALWAYS been that way. I didn’t know any different. Then when I was hypnotized, the memory of my 2nd grade class came to me, my teacher and the kids in the class laughing at me; it all came back… I finally remembered and understood why I had the phobia. And it stopped! I couldn’t and still can’t believe it, but it worked!...”

a quote from Phil, a Police Captain with a severe public speaking phobia.
One common feeling many people with phobias have is the lack of knowledge or understanding of where and why they have their particular phobia.
Many people, who have had hypnotic intervention for the relief of a phobia, have told me that they remembered how and why the phobia began, only after being hypnotized.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophesy of a phobia.
“…Sometimes I think I will get an attack, and it happens, I’ll be fine until the
thought of chocking comes into my mind and then it happens…”,

a quote from Mary, a 47 year old who had a fear of chocking her whole life.
Very often sufferers of phobias will actually predict an attack happening.
This self-fulfilling prophesy aspect of phobias are common to all phobias.
Unfortunately, when you allow a thought to come into your mind, it is an exercise in futility to get it out. When you anticipate it happening it will happen.

The Anticipatory Anxiety factor; the third commonality…
“… I live with the phobia, I stay inside, but I also live with the fear of when it will happen; it can be worse than the fear itself… I live 24-7 with either the fear of seeing a bird or the fear of the phobia of seeing a bird”,

a quote from Karen, a 50 year old hairstylist with a fear of birds.
The fear of the phobia becomes worse than the fear itself. When a phobia is so ingrained, a person has no joy in their life because it (the phobia) is all they think of.

When you are in the midst of a phobic attack, you feel that you are alone in your fear and there is nothing that you can do!

It controls you and you are powerless to take that control back.

It takes on a presence of its own. All too often, people who have phobias will try to simply, avoid any chance of being where their phobia may be activated.
If you have a fear of birds, like Karen, you stay indoors.

If, like Phil, you have a public speaking phobia, you would never put yourself in a position to be speaking in front of a crowd.

However, what if you must deal with a phobia?

You can go to “Talk Therapy”, where you can discuss where and when it started and if you find the cause, you can find closure and cure.

You may learn coping strategies to “live with” the phobia.

However, if the function of the subconscious is the protector that will block the painful memory that causes the phobia AND is the store room for all your memories, it becomes quite difficult to determine where and when it started.
The place, the subconscious, which has the information for you to understand why you have a phobia, is the same place that is designed to keep that information from you.
I call this a phobic’s “Catch-22” and it is no joking matter.

I combine two hypnosis processes for the elimination of phobias. Combining Parts Therapy with Regression Therapy, works very powerfully to allow the sufferer of a phobia, get their life back.

In the next posting, titled “Phobias A to Z - Part 3” I will describe how hypnosis helps a phobic person eliminate the phobia and describe a case study about Sue, a single mom with a lifelong phobia of water- hydrophobia.

Feel free to make a comment on y blog, I will be happy to post it.