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We all know what fear feels like. In fact, we can be glad of it in evolutionary terms, as we wouldn’t have survived without it. But the question is, whether the fear is appropriate given the actual level of risk or danger?

Phobic responses can be defined as unduly uncomfortable fears, and to a greater or lesser extent will usually present a limitation or problem to the sufferer, which can be easily explained and rectified.

Although we wouldn’t necessarily want to do away with our fears completely, we do want to be able to live with them, and remain in control. Available solutions are not about conquering and getting rid of fear entirely, rather it’s learning to co-exist with it that’s important.

Possible responses to fear include anger, panic attacks, or feeling faint and passing out. So, a few butterflies in the stomach are OK. These can feel very similar to excitement, but when our anxiety goes up too far and we lose control, then maybe we need to take some steps to change that reaction.

Here is what’s going on when we suffer from a fear response. Appropriately, in the case of real and present life threatening danger, or inappropriately, as can be the case with harmless spiders or flights abroad to go on holiday, whenever our anxiety goes up, we effectively move from operating within our evolved intellectual brain and instead move into the primitive emotional brain, where our ‘survival templates’ are stored.

It’s also interesting to point out here that where emotional reactions and indeed over reactions are concerned, our minds cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality. If what we did yesterday ensured our survival, we are encouraged to do it again. Importantly, this also includes all the times we thought about that adverse reaction. With this in mind it’s clear to see how that inappropriate template became firmly established.

Did you know that at least 12% of the adult population suffer from a phobic response at some point in their life?

Such templates wouldn’t stand up to intellectual interrogation, but that doesn’t help when the sufferer is in the grips of the phobic response. What happens in the moment is a kind of override. The primitive brain triggers the release of cortisol, which literally blocks intellectual functionality. In the moment, there is no controlling the fear, and this is when over-reactions can occur.

People who suffer form phobias often re-organise their lives to be able to avoid the problem, when what they actually need to do is to build an alternative desirable template.

Local clinical hypnotherapist Liane Ulbricht-Kazan comments: “Phobias can be very debilitating and take over peoples lives. The fear response can even become generalised, and in extreme cases such as agoraphobia or social phobia, then this can amount to feeling anxious when simply thinking about stepping out of the front door. More specific phobias on the other hand, such as fear of spiders, can be triggered both generally (e.g. whenever a person is in the house) or specifically (only when the person sees a spider). Thankfully, we have a very effective technique for replacing the anxiety response template with one of the customer’s choosing, and it can be very quick to offer significant improvement even in extreme cases”.

There’s a lot more to hypnotherapy than you might think, and neuroscience is making incredible discoveries all the time about how the brain works, and how professionals can help with issues such as phobias.