Trypanophobia or needle phobia - how hypnotherapy can help

The whole family were excited, but especially the youngest daughter. She had never travelled abroad before – let alone to the Far East. The Foreign Office recommended a list of inoculations and so an appointment was made at the local GP practice.

Father volunteered to go first – just to show the children how easy it was. In retrospect, this was not a good idea. As the needle made its appearance, father keeled over. Cue pandemonium - flustered medical staff, crying children and stubbornly inert father. We may smile, but for the little girl, the experience was deeply traumatising. At that moment, a needle phobic was born.

Needle phobia is potentially fatal. I do not exaggerate. Not everyone presents with loss of consciousness. The actual faint (or “vaso-vagal episode”) may be humiliating, but is unlikely to lead to harm. The real danger arises from a strong and persistent urge to avoid all future medical care – with obvious consequences. For many, the looming proximity of an unavoidable medical appointment forces the search for a solution.

Hypnotherapy can really help in two specific ways. Time-regression can allow the subject to safely revisit the initial episode as a mature adult. Reassurance can then be shared with that frightened former self. An alternative approach is to rehearse scenarios using fast-forward and fast-rewind images. This so-called “rewind technique” can reliably disempower the phobia. More generally any technique, which teaches relaxation is likely to be useful as a first-aid anxiety quick fix. Audio recordings for home practice can reinforce the improvements.

The medical and dental professions are at last becoming more sympathetic to these poor people. Patients requiring general anaesthesia can sometimes opt for a “gas induction”, where needles and cannulae are placed after consciousness is lost. This approach may seem tempting, but is really a further example of avoidance behaviour. It is far better to actively address the phobia.

On a positive note, most needle phobic individuals are intelligent and possess active and vivid visual imaginations. They often make ideal hypnotic subjects. So here is one phobia you can and should really address. Your life may literally depend on it!

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