How do you know if you have a Fear or a Phobia and what is the difference and why do you need to know?
Well the names are misleading and depending on whether it is a fear or a phobia it will be helped by different techniques.
Agoraphobia (fear of outside spaces) for example is not a specific phobia, it is general anxiety and you cannot cure agoraphobia in the same way that you would treat arachnophobia (fear of spiders).
A general fear develops as anxiety levels build up and that person doesn’t take any action to dissipate their stress or anxiety and continues thinking or behaving in the same way which is leading to the anxiety. Anxiety comes from negatively forecasting the future, so if someone is worrying and imagining negative future outcomes, their brain will interpret that as some sort of danger, emergency or crisis.
As this develops and the thought patterns continue, the threat level in the primitive brain increases and the brain will take action to stop that person from doing anything which it believes will cause anxiety, it will stop you stepping outside your comfort zone.
If nothing is done, the person’s world and activity slowly shrinks and they do less and less.
This can start off with just one small fear, but can manifest in many different directions depending on that person’s life experiences.
A specific phobia differs in that it is almost always formed due to an incident or a moment of extreme fear. The brain is a curious thing and it can associate the extreme fear with something other than the cause of that fear – for example, if someone was in a frightening accident and they happened to have just seen a donkey in a field split seconds before, their brain, in that moment, can form an association with extreme fear and donkeys. they don’t think about it and don’t see any more donkeys, but years later they discover they have a donkey phobia with no idea why.
Many fears and phobias are formed as children by learning from their parents to be scared of something. I had young child as a client, about 9 years old, who had a cat phobia which had formed when her mum had been startled by a cat and screamed. An adult can rationalise that the incident was a one off, but the child at the time doesn’t have that rational mind and associates all cats as dangerous. Spiders are a very common example of this.
Fear of flying is an interesting one, it can be a general fear or a specific phobia, so how can you tell the difference?
If you can remember a specific time when you had a bad experience flying which frightened you, it is probably at specific phobia, but if you can’t remember an incident, then it is more likely to be a general fear due to a build up of anxiety and you telling yourself you’re going to be scared flying.
Either way, the hypnotherapist will be able to advise and treat as appropriate.
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