Subliminal Software

What You Should Know about Phobias

A phobia is an especially strong fear that is triggered by some specific event or thing.

There are a great number of phobias, but most people are aware of agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces or crowds) and claustrophobia (a fear of confined spaces). In both instances the patient is unable to see a ready route for escape.

Other people fear other situations, such as the dark or flying. Apart from the situational phobias there are also those known as the animal phobias', including such conditions as arachnophobia - a fear of spiders - while others may have an unreasonable fear of dogs or of birds. Social phobias include a dread of meeting people or having to perform in public. The list is endless.

One particular phobia - the fear of flying - deserves special mention as it can be a limiting factor to peoples' lives. It restricts family holidays, and it makes it difficult to visit siblings or friends who have moved overseas. Terrorism has perhaps produced a reasonable aspect to the fear of flying, but even before terrorism, the dread, fear and acute anxiety state flying induced was quite out of proportion to the risk involved.

Cures for the fear of flying range from lavender armbands to a double whisky before take-off. A more rational approach is to have psychotherapy. There are courses run to treat a fear of flying in which the members of the group become acclimatized to the idea until it is finally acceptable to them; then they all fly off to celebrate their recovery.

The standard method of treating phobias is either to desensitize phobic people by gradually exposing them more and more to their feared object or happening, or to use 'flooding'. The latter is the psychiatric equivalent of throwing people in at the deep end. They are confronted by their fears, overcome them (it is assumed) and it is hoped, thereafter are never so bad again. I've always favoured gradual desensitization.