Overcoming phobias

In the news recently was the story of Jack Copp, who used to be afraid of vacuum cleaners. Even though he was only 5, he used exposure therapy and desensitisiation himself to overcome his phobia and now he is so interested in vacuum cleaners he has become a collector and landed a job with Dyson!

So what did Jack Copp do?

One of the features of phobic reaction is avoidance. You use a range of tactics to ensure that you don't come face to face with the spider, snake, vacuum cleaner or whatever is the focus of the phobia. As a result of this, you give yourself little chance to prove that it is not dangerous nor any chance to get used to it. What Jack Cobb did was take the vacuum apart, exposing himself to the feared object. By handling it in such detail, he got to know it very well, and he became desensitised, that is, he got used to it. When you face your feared object frequently, the anxious feelings get weaker and weaker until they disappear completely.

Although phobics know their response is irrational, it is real and can be overwhelming. With guidance, you can step towards the feared object and gradually you come to see that it is not as bad as the fearful thought. And the more you do it the easier it becomes. Like falling off a horse, the best thing is to get back in the saddle. Or driving again after an accident. Drawing on our motivation to overcome the anxiety. So if you have been suffering a phobic response for years and years, it is heartening news to know that you can be free of this fear in short order. Cognitive behavioural therapy is tried, tested and successful in the long-term. Hypnosis enhances the effects of the CBT.

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