Phobias and NLP
A phobia is an intense and irrational fear of something. Someone who suffers from a phobia will go to great lengths to avoid the issue that is creating their fear – a response that has the unfortunate and unintended result of increasing their discomfort, causing an even greater and more extreme psychological reaction than was the case, originally.
For example, Suzie is terrified of spiders – a common phobia known as arachnophobia. Perhaps, this fear originated during her childhood when Suzie’s little brother mischievously pretended to put a spider down the back of her dress (it was actually a toy spider made from rubber and fake fur).
As Suzie grew older, she tried very hard to avoid anything that resembled spiders – not an easy feat when you live in the countryside and your house is situated in the middle of a forest – perfect habitat for spiders. The more Suzie avoided spiders, the larger her aversion to the creepy crawly insect grew. In fact, Suzie was now avoiding spending time outside, in the basement of her home, and in the bath – locations that she believed would be ideal places for a spider to hide. Suzie’s arachnophobia was definitely interfering negatively with her ability to enjoy life.
At this point, Suzie decided that she needed to seek professional help to put an end to her spider phobia once and for all. She had heard of a therapist who treated severe phobias such as hers, by using a combination of hypnosis and NLP (neuro-linguistic processing). Desperate for relief, Suzie decided to give it a try.
Suzie learned that although we all take in sensory information, it is our tendency to either associate deeply on an emotional level with this information or to view events from a distance, that determines our perspective. When we feel attached to an experience, we are deeply immersed in the powerful sensations that accompany the event. By contrast, someone who is detached, views the event as if they are observing what is happening from afar.
As a co-founder of NLP, Richard Bandler understood this all too well. He was able to assist his clients to re-frame their traumatizing experiences by literally disassociating from what had happened to them, and viewing the event from a distance, as an observer. Using Bandler’s technique, Suzie’s therapist helped her to become more comfortable with spiders, using a form of desensitization in which Suzie viewed the original event as an observer, while under hypnosis.
Suzie was able to slowly become more comfortable and at ease with spiders, especially now she was no longer feeling so unsafe and out of control. Instead, she was able to recognize that her irrational fear stemmed from the shock and distress she had first experienced as a child – and on that occasion, the nasty spider was nothing more than a silly toy!
Finally free from her spider phobia, Suzie was able to move forward again with her life. Even when she came across a real spider, Suzie was able to remain calm and view the situation as a detached observer – an incredible transformation for a young woman previously paralyzed by her severe arachnophobia.