Phobias of every kind are unreal ways of feeling. In agoraphobia and claustrophobia
spaces - large or small - seem dangerously de-stabilising. Similar levels of fear
may be generated by driving - insects - dogs - cats - or any number of unlikely causes
- animate or inanimate.
For example, fear of heights, like many similar difficulties, may have some justification
- but for sufferers fear is out of all proportion to the circumstances. Also the
fear of being seen as out of control simultaneously threatens them with actual loss
Being unable to relax and release the tension, once the process has started sufferers
feel increasingly out of control and completely at its mercy. Paradoxically those
with a control freak tendency are most at risk of these difficulties.
Our experience of the world is entirely dependent on models and representations in
the brain. Imaginative input - which is vital to their construction - also allows
our perception to be so distorted that our behaviour is seriously compromised.
It can be difficult and exasperating for others who try to help them. Often they
are torn between sympathy, anxiety and contempt.
The individual has to be helped dispassionately to unlearn these defensive patterns
and to register their experience their internal and external worlds in better connected
This systematic process of reconstruction may involve a variety of cognitive and
behavioural exercises plus powerful hypnotic processes to generate a calm and more
relaxed base state from which experience can be connected in a balanced and reassuring