The woman frightened of vegetables
Molly (not her real name) was in her mid-sixties and ever since she can recall, she has been frightened of vegetables. She explained “I can’t go near a grocer, the vegetable section in supermarkets or even prepare certain vegetables without feeling violently sick and needing to escape”. This was a first. Hypnotherapists are familiar with resolving phobic responses but vegetables?
Before telling you about how Molly resolved her phobia let’s be clear what in clinical hypnotherapy a phobia is - “a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation. The sufferer goes to great lengths to avoid even though there is no real danger.”
The symptoms of a phobia can range from mild feelings of apprehension and discomfort to a full-blown panic attack. These are the kind of sensations that can accompany an extreme phobic response:
rapid or shallow breathing
abdominal distress (butterflies, churning or knotted)
weakness or shaking of the limbs
chest pain, rapid heartbeat or discomfort (fear of heart attack)
chills or hot flushes
feeling faint, dizzy, lightheaded, unsteady
feeling of choking
fear of losing control or going crazy
fear of dying.
Of course for many people a phobia is nowhere near as severe. It can just be an inconvenience that creates limits on particular situations or behaviour. These sufferers manage the phobic response by avoiding the trigger. This is relatively easy to do if the trigger is say flying, public speaking, moths, dogs or spiders. You don’t go far on holiday; avoid jobs where you have to give presentations and keep out of the garden at night. The road can be crossed at the sight of incoming dogs and hopefully someone else is available to remove the spider from the bath!
It presents a problem when the activator is common, the fearful response is overwhelming or it drastically reduces down opportunities in work or personal life.
How could an independent and assertive 60 year old person like Molly have such a fear of something, not only so necessary for health but so benign? How could something so irrational prevail for so long, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary? Had a vegetable ever had a go at her? It doesn’t make sense. Even if we are not phobic ourselves it is easy to understand people being frightened of spiders, dogs or say flying; but vegetables?
So how did Molly free herself?
By using a well-established hypnotic strategy called the ‘Rewind Technique’. Molly was able for the first time to think about the first time she had a traumatic experience which caused this phobia. She was able to recall the memory but importantly from a ‘safe place’, whilst calm and relaxed.
Trauma victims get locked into a perpetual ability, when triggered to feel that strong emotion long after the event. The step to freedom is finding a way of recalling the memory as though viewing it like an interested bystander. Viewing the trauma calmly from a slight distance is a natural ability. Someone trained such as a hypnotherapist in this skill can normally facilitate resolution quickly, as it did with Molly.
List of common phobias
Literally anything can be phobic. Some things are more common than others and these include:
Fear of spiders, snakes, heights, enclosed spaces, and flying. Fear of storms, needles, taking blood and injections. Fear of water. Fear of interviews, public speaking, tests and exams. Fear of germs, illness or death. Fear of vomiting. Fear of buttons, insects and moths.
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