Fear and phobias treatment

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

fear and survival

A long time ago when our ancestors lived man used to use his instincts to collect food and to survive. If man didn't have the emotion called fear that helped him run from predators you may have not been here by now.

When the man living at that time faced some kind of danger his body triggered a state called the fight or flight response where adrenaline is pumped into his blood in order to give him the ability either to start a fight or run away as fast as he can.

This fight and flight response causes many changes in the body like withdrawing blood from sensitive parts, making the heart beat faster and pumping blood into muscles so they get stronger.

The whole body becomes alert in order to help the person face the dangers. The problem happens when that fight or flight state that causes anxiety and fear is triggered even if it was not needed at all and this is exactly what happens to people who suffer from phobias.

fear as a disorder

Fear becomes a disorder when the incorrect perception of the situation makes the person thinks that he is in danger and so triggers his anxious response.

The human being was designed with an emotion such as fear in order to protect him from dangers but sometimes this alarm system goes wrong and the person suffers from fear even if he is completely safe.

There are many types and forms of fears that present no life threat, these include fear of rejection, fear of change, phobias with all of its forms (like fear of spiders, heights, dogs, animals, darkness or closed places), fear of failure and even fear of success.

The culture you were raised in can be one of the reasons you have irrational fears. For example Some cults have superstitions beliefs about darkness and ghosts and as a result all of the people living in it develop similar fears and phobias.

Fear and phobias treatment

One of the methods you can use to get rid of your fears is exposure therapy, where you expose yourself to the feared situation over and over until you find that there is nothing dangerous about it. This method can only be used when the fear is arising from an irrational belief like the fear of darkness and ghosts.

One other very effective method is systematic desensitization. Systematic desensitization is a method of therapy that is helpful in treating anxiety and phobias without involving sudden direct exposure.

In systematic desensitization the fearful situation is divided into levels and then the person is allowed to go through each level one by one until he manages to feel relaxed and in control. If the person succeeded in facing level one of his fears he is then allowed to move to level two until he manages to face his greatest fears while being relaxed.

Cognitive behavior therapy can also be used to treat fears and phobias. Cognitive behavior therapy works on helping the person control his unwanted thoughts which lead to his unwanted emotions.

At the end of this article you will find links that will tell you how to treat your phobias using these methods in full detail.

Fear and the unknown

One of the big foundations fear rests upon is lack of knowledge about the feared object, that’s why some people fear dark places, it's because they don’t know what kind of danger they will find in there.

If fear of the unknown is your problem then do your best to face your feared objects in order to collect more information about them.

If you fear darkness then collect your courage then go to dark places and try to spend some time there. In the end you will discover that your fears became much less as a result of discovering that your fears were based on irrational ideas. (See fear of the unknown)

Fear and courage

One famous misconception people have about courage is thinking that its the absence of fear while that's completely wrong. Courage is the ability to keep moving forward even if you are afraid.

In order to develop courage and get over your fears you need to face them and by doing so you will discover that you were afraid of things that either don't exist or that can never harm you.

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