TED Conversations

Author and teacher,

This conversation is closed.

Are there cures for phobias?

In my personal experience, at least some phobias can have a definite cause and it can be traced back to a specific incident or instant in time, leading me to suggest that most have the same root cause, an incident that on some unconscious or subconscious level, triggered the 'phobic fear' that became embedded as a 'norm' for the person.

I have cured a number of phobias for people, not by deleting it from their memory or any of the therapies above, but by removing the emotional response to the phobia source. For example, spiders. The person remains cognitively aware that spiders are dangerous and can jump and bite, but there is no irrational fear or terror accompanying the cognitive recognition of the spider. It takes around 15minutes to work with a client to completely remove the emotional response, but that is only the start of it.

Just as a smoker can 'relapse' if not in a supportive environment, so does a person coming out of a phobia, so having a supportive environment is a powerful framework for the total and ongoing recovery from these challenges.

Please note: I am not in the business of curing phobias, I'm not a psychologist or counsellor. I know this works and it seems that I also know many people with phobias that have their lived ruled by them, without needing it to be that way.

I have written more about this at http://www.lifechange90.com/how-to-cure-phobias/.

Ray Jamieson

Share:
  • thumb
    Nov 1 2013: Here is the word from the Mayo Clinic on treatment of phobias. The Mayo Clinic is one of the most respected medical institutions in the United States.

    "Behavior therapy
    Desensitization or exposure therapy focuses on changing your response to the object or situation that you fear, and may be helpful for specific phobias. Gradual, repeated exposure to the cause of your phobia may help you learn to conquer your anxiety. For example, if you're afraid of flying, your therapy may progress from simply thinking about flying to looking at pictures of airplanes, to going to an airport, to sitting in an airplane, and finally to taking a flight.

    Cognitive behavioral therapy is a more comprehensive form of therapy. It involves working with a therapist to learn ways to view and cope with the feared object or situation differently. You learn alternative beliefs about your fears and the impact they have on your life. There's special emphasis on learning to develop a sense of mastery and control of your thoughts and feelings.

    Treatment choices
    Specific phobias usually are treated with behavioral therapy. Social phobias may be treated with antidepressants or beta blockers, along with behavior therapy. Agoraphobia, especially when it's accompanied by a panic disorder, is usually treated with SSRIs and behavior therapy."
  • thumb
    Nov 3 2013: I think versions of exposure therapy are among the best. For a specific phobia, you might want to go to a psychologist and find the right treatment for the 'problem' (if you see it as a problem... someone with fear of heights might not have a problem with it if he lives in on the plains for example, until he has a girlfriend living on the 20th floor of an apartment).
  • Nov 1 2013: Sure Allan, and this is where I work at a tangent to counsellors and psychologists, who work on hours of counselling to achieve an outcome. Using either an NLP based strategy or an emotional release strategy, the fear/phobia is brought to attention, then the emotional release is done. In NLP, it is a series of mental and emotional exercises that remove the fear from the situation. In emotional release, a kinesiology type of method is used to release the fear associated with the situation. Both are extremely effective and take minutes to complete.

    However, once the person steps outside the place where this change occurred, they are back in their old world again. That's where the challenges can retrigger the phobia if the person is not fully present again and able to manage them. A bit like smoking - you do a hypnosis or NLP session to get rid of your smoking habit, walk outside the clinic and someone blows a smoke ring at you as you step onto the footpath. Your mind will scream at you about how you "used to enjoy that" and the temptation will be there...

    That's the challenge for where I like to prepare people for the phobia/habit change event first, so that it's not an issue...

    Thanks for the question!
  • thumb
    Nov 1 2013: You are right about the need for ongoing support outside counselling, but I'm not so sure about your statement: "It takes around 15minutes to work with a client to completely remove the emotional response...". Can you say more about what you mean by that please?
  • thumb
    Nov 1 2013: While the learned and experts here will give us valuable information on how to beat phobias here, the parents of young ones here or the yet to be parents need to know that phobias are seeded when kids are very young based on fears that are given unintentionally. Many fears are born from innocent disciplinary efforts made by parents to just get their kids to obey. Whether it is sleeping on time for fear of the boogie man, or something as innocent as sleep tight don't let the bed bugs bite; these are small seeds to create some sort of fear that plants the seeds that become phobias. So a fear less child can be expected to have less or no phobias. We need more creative models to discipline without using fear as a tool.
  • Nov 1 2013: I'd recommend a psychologist for ridding oneself of phobias.
    I think its in their job description, somewhere. Some of them are quite good at it.
  • Nov 1 2013: See N L P
  • thumb
    Nov 1 2013: I have made the content from the link my teaching material, how wonderful~! Let my Chinese people know what phobia is in English~!:)
  • thumb
    Nov 1 2013: "But for others, it's as scary meeting people, going for a job interview, and so on. This is a way to set up your life in such a way that everyone feels great about enjoying this adventure called life, to the max!"
    I totally agreee with you. Lukily, I don't have those phobias which can change my life for the worse. But I know other people may have diffictulties dealing some phobias and I'd be very glad to support your thread to help more people.

    Thank you too~!
  • Nov 1 2013: Yoka, I love the way you think! Like with the cockroaches! Great stuff! And the movies - just don't go there! Great, common sense! But sometimes, people don't have a choice about dealing with these issues, and they HAVE to find a way!

    However, the environment we create around us has more than just phobia management as an outcome, all of life gets better when we work from a supportive and safe place. Life can be a scary adventure and things like phobias for some people are terrifying. But for others, it's as scary meeting people, going for a job interview, and so on. This is a way to set up your life in such a way that everyone feels great about enjoying this adventure called life, to the max!

    Thank you for commenting!
  • Nov 8 2013: We are most fortunate that NLP amd emotional release type therapies have advanced significantly in the last 20 years, as has the understanding of the mind. I have put 2 decades into it personally and still have a little to go! ;)
  • thumb
    Nov 6 2013: I have always had a phobia of velvet - or more specifically, the fibers of the fabric going up my nails or it touching my face. I'm not sure if it counts technically as a phobia but I remember by friends, on hearing this, wrapping me in a velvet curtain for a laugh and I had a panic attack.

    I have no memories of an event and the phobia isn't emotional - it's very much a physical thing. I can be near it and be fine, so long as I'm not touching it.

    Interestingly, a couple of years ago I found out my grandmother, unbeknown to be, also has a fear of velvet. She didn't know I loathe velvet too. It made me question whether phobias could be genetically inherited, as absurd as that sounds. Logically, it would seem I had learnt that behavior... What do you think?
    • Nov 7 2013: Graihagh, I doubt if phobias are genetic, but it's possible that you have a skin sensitivity similar to your grandmother's skin and react the same way because of it. However, the prank by your friends was very bad from them, and probably made your fear even worse.

      Somewhere, you definitely learnt that you did not like the feel of velvet! So did she! If you were blindfolded, I wonder if it would still cause the same reaction, and would other fabrics do the same...?

      Is it a phobia? Hard to know where to draw the line, but it is an irrational fear and you already know that. You consciously know that velvet in itself is not bad or dangerous, so the fear is, by definition, irrational. The sound of fingernails up a blackboard, whilst we know it's not dangerous, also invokes an awful feeling in most people - also irrational! I guess if it is a problem for you, then yes, it could be treated as a phobia, and certainly, I would recommend and use the same strategy to resolve it that I would for any other phobia!

      As for it not being emotional, it IS emotional, but with a physical trigger - you need to be touching it for it to cause the (emotional) panic attack. Therefore, it can also be cured emotionally! And then yopu would test for the cure physically.

      It would be interesting to try it out, especially as it is not something of critical importance. You would find the benefits spill over into every other area of your life too - you can't make a change like that without feeling the benefits through your whole system!

      Good luck, I hope to hear from you and that you resolved it, and use Life Change 90 to change your fortune in other ways also!
  • thumb
    Nov 6 2013: Ray,

    I totally agree with you.

    My mother used to have a social phobia. She visited almost every single doctor in the town, till she found the one who helped her.

    She was using medicines, psychologist therapy few times a week, but the biggest importance for her curing, was fighting by her self. The conversations helped a lot.
    The doctor was rude at start ( one of her reactions was shaking hands while drinking coffee) so he insist to do that over and over, and digging into her fears to find the reason why is she reacting like that. He was looking for a root for the problem,as you say so.

    She was fighting almost a year, and she got better. Her emotional responses was lower and lower. At the end, she was reacting good, her "bad" reactions was removed. She drinks medicines still, to stay in homeostasis, but I believe that his talking-therapy done more, than pure medicine taking.
    • Nov 7 2013: Good to hear a success story Jelena, and it's great that her therapist/doctor DID find a way through. I wonder if an NLP practitioner might have been faster...

      More importantly, what is her confidence level like now? Does she feel like she can walk around freely without the old social phobia fears kicking in? I hope so.

      Most people I know who have had situations like this have had to do work on themselves to overcome the problem from the inside. Of course, if the problem is medical, it needs a doctor and medicine, but if it's purely self confidence or the result of a scare at some time, medicine will not only not help, it creates other problems! If medicine is not needed, the person needs to work on themselves, create a supportive environment around themselves such as with http://www.lifechange90.com/how-to-cure-phobias/ and perhaps the assistance of someone with NLP training, or some self research into NLP and the cure can be learnt in half an hour or so...

      I hope she is well, and thanks for your comment.
      • thumb
        Nov 7 2013: I believe that NLP is effective, and much more faster, but my mother had this problem, almost 20 years ago,so I don't know if NLP was practiced,that time ago here. I was little girl and I remember mothers fears from crowded places(post offices,job places, doctors) hands shaking while she is in some company... Her fears and problems are removed at all,and she is good now, thanks for asking. Maybe, the method her doctor used can be characterized as "amateur try of NLP"

        I am also with you about the medicines in this process. I am sure that just with medicines in the therapy, problem becomes deeper and deeper. Understanding and supporting are primary. Especially, because of the fact that people are usually ashamed to talk about this problems, and the lack of understanding, would make things even worse. "The feeling of understanding" can't be given just by medicines, so supportive environment is crucial.
  • Nov 3 2013: Love your example Christopher! A good example of a powerful, positive motivator for getting over a phobia!

    She would provide the "supportive environment" I advocate also! That's perhaps one of the most critical aspects, to prevent relapses or retriggering by the 'old' environmental triggers.

    Not so sure about the psychologists though. I know of people who have had multiple sessions with counsellors and psychologists and had little or limited results, and one treatment with NLP or emotional release therapies has resolved their issues. Phobias can be created in an instant, from a single incident or event, and I do believe, after what I have seen, they need to be cured quickly too! And as soon as possible after they are recognised, to minimize life disruption...
  • Nov 1 2013: Good point, unlearning the fear. However, unless the environment changes as well, to support the new state of being after the fear is unlearned, the old ways can return.
  • Nov 1 2013: Great insight Uday, totally agree.
  • thumb
    Nov 1 2013: i believe phobias has nothing to do with each other but their name. for example acrophobia was recently linked to insufficient use of bodily sensations and overuse of visual clues in balance. the solution is to exercise balance (remove the cause), and then unlearn the fear.
  • Nov 1 2013: Only some of them, unfortunately, Nadav, but it's still up to the person with the problem to create a safe place to go back into, that doesn't trigger their phobias again!

    Once that problem is handled, most cures will work OK, some are very good, but none will last if the person goes back into an environment that sets them up to fail, again! That's why I have done so much research into it, as my page shows... I'm not a psychologist and I don't do phobia cures professionally, but I have cured phobias and lots of other issues such as these, and found that this supporting environment issue was the biggest predictor of success.

    It's a fascinating topic, thanks for your input.
  • Nov 1 2013: I agree George, and have used NLP to great effect also. However, the person still needs something good to come home to, or the old problems can resurface...
  • Nov 1 2013: Certainly agree with much of the point Fritzie, however, it's not the full story.

    Most phobias are created in a moment, a single instant, and keyed in by later events. That just proves the mind can learn things incredibly quickly. It also gives weight to the possibility that the mind change learn NOT to be frightened of the phobic subject just as fast.

    However, that is irrelevant in a sense, because unless the person is supported outside of the situation, their fears can still rule them. The therapy results may be short lived, as their phobia and fears are retriggered by their old/former environment. That's why in my experience, creating that supportive environment first is always the best way to ensure a great outcome, regardless of the therapy chosen.

    Thanks for the information, Mayo is certainly well respected.
  • Nov 1 2013: Thank you again!
  • Nov 1 2013: Thank you Yoka, I value your input and support!
    Ray
  • Nov 1 2013: True. Thank you for commenting. Immersion or exposure therapy is one way to get through phobias, but with your examples of tigers or snakes, it may be your last! The better way is to start with yourself, strengthening yourself first and building from there. Did you look at the link where I have written so much more about this point?
    Ray
    • thumb
      Nov 1 2013: I read it .That's a good explanation and piece of advice on phobia and its treatment. But as for me, up to now, I don't think phobia has hampered my life: for example, I fear some horror movies but if I don't watch them, it's quite ok for me.And I fear cockroaches, I can use pesticide to fight against them.:)
  • thumb
    Nov 1 2013: They say if you fear something unusually, the good way to overcome it is to often stay with it or do it . But if you fear a tiger or a snake, I think it's normal and you needn't get rid of the phobia about them.
  • Nov 1 2013: Hi Riadh,
    Thank you. However, setting up the 'supportive environment' doesn't need to be a major production. It's actually quite simple, and http://www.lifechange90.com/how-to-cure-phobias/ explains everything to you - not enough space in this little box to explain it all.

    However, a few minutes a day, morning and evening is all it takes to set up a great internal and mental environment, and the daily life you are having continues anyway, except you view it differently and perhaps focus in different areas. But it's easier in the long term AND the short term to be supported as you go about your daily life, no matter what your issues with life are! Check it out!
    Cheers,
    Ray Jamieson
    • thumb
      Nov 1 2013: Greentings Ray ;
      it's still the taught of their phobias and always it will depends their skills.
      Best,
      Riadh Boukratem
  • thumb
    Oct 31 2013: the knowledge about it ,it depends our skills.