Scary Times - A closer look at phobias

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

It is almost Halloween, a time when we all like to be a little bit scared. But what if you have an ongoing fear that is impacting your life. It seems like an appropriate time of the year to take a look at phobias.

I am not sure when my phobia of snakes started. I think it was the time when I stood on a hosepipe at an outside pool as a child, and when I told people I thought there was a snake in the pool they all laughed at me. Could such a minor event really have led me to being unable to even look at snakes on TV, to running out an aquarium when I realised they had snakes in there, almost ruining the trip of a lifetime to Australia because of the constant fear of them?

Phobias are the extreme fear of something - or a situation - that cause panic and anxiety when you come into contact with the cause.

In the UK, an estimated 10 million people have phobias.

Specific phobias are focussed on a particular object, animal, situation or activity.

They often develop during childhood or adolescence and may become less severe as people get older.

Examples of these include:

  • animal phobias – common ones are dogs, spiders, snakes

  • environmental phobias – examples include heights, deep water and germs

  • situational phobias – such as visiting the dentist or flying

  • bodily phobias – this may be blood, vomit or having injections

  • sexual phobias – often performance anxiety or the fear of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI)

Most people can probably identify with at least one of these fears. And for most people, they can probably get on with things pretty well managing that fear. For others though, the fear may be so intense that it has a significant impact on their life. For example, many people are afraid of flying, but will do so because it is necessary from time to time to get somewhere they want or need to be. They may have a drink at the airport or do some breathing exercises to get them through the flight. But for others that fear is so intense they simply can’t fly. They have had to alter their lives around their fear.

My snake phobia was relatively simple. Thankfully, as snakes are rare in this country, it did not impact my day to day life (but it did create very high anxiety whenever I was anywhere that the likelihood of seeing a snake was higher). However, by being the subject of a five minute phobia busting technique, I am no longer as ridiculously afraid. I can’t say snakes are my favourite thing but recently I even managed to watch that section of Planet Earth 2 when the snakes hunted down the iguanas.

Complex phobias require a more complex approach, but hypnotherapy can also be very effective at providing help to manage these. They tend to develop as an adult and are often associated with a deep-rooted fear or anxiety about a particular situation. These tend to be more disabling than simple phobias and the two most common complex phobias are agoraphobia and social phobia.

Someone with agoraphobia will feel anxious about being in a place or in a situation where leaving may be difficult if they have a panic attack. The anxiety commonly means the person avoiding situations such as being alone, being in crowded places (restaurants or supermarkets), travelling on public transport etc.


Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, centres around feeling anxious in social situations. Symptoms include worrying about speaking to people, dreading and avoiding social events, avoiding eye contact and low self-esteem.

The most-Googled phobia of the year in the US is fear of other people. Researchers attribute the trend to the COVID-19 pandemic."Anthropophobia” made up 22 percent of all fears searched in the US in 2020 — five times the number last year, Psych News Daily reported.

Hypnotherapy and related techniques are highly effective in tackling phobias, whether simple or complex.


So if you want to finally get rid of a fear, get in touch to find out more about hypnotherapy in Hebden Bridge and online and use hypnotherapy for your phobia.

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