What is a phobia?

Forgive me if I seem to go around the house a bit but all will come clear to you as you follow along.

For you, if you are the sufferer, it is a compelling fear. A real gut wrenching feeling "I have got to get away!" instinct. In the situation where the fear happens it can feel unbearable.

For example

A friend of mine, a teacher, was walking along Blackpool Promenade. It was a beautiful sunny day. To her left people were enjoying the beach, playing games, swimming in the sea and sunning themselves. Hundreds of other people were walking along the promenade coming and going as people do on their holidays. The parallel road was busy with slow moving traffic and the old Blackpool trams rattled by.

A brilliant holiday day was being enjoyed by thousands. BUT!

Lets call my friend Jane, not here real name, but she wishes to remain anonymous.

Jane was walking with her two daughters aged 3 and 5 years, each holding a hand. They were relaxed and looking forward to playing on the beach and ice-cream and other treats. Even so in that crowd the girls were holding tight to mums hands as they experienced the sea of legs.

Suddenly everything change! Jane let go of the girls hands, turned and fled in the opposite direction. Fear had struck right through Jane's whole caring, motherly nature. What horror could have sparked this loving mother to behave in such a rash and seemingly uncaring manner?

Lets just look a bit further down that crowded promenade. Coming towards Jane was a photographer with a camera around his neck. Like many other seaside photographers he had a live prop to stimulate his trade and get people to pose for pictures. Around his neck was draped a large python.

Can you feel what spooked Jane?

Yes. She had seen the python, done what I call "The 400 simultaneous horror movies" and fled, leaving two little girls to their fate.

Her fear of snakes was so great as to override all her mothering, caring and loving nature.

If you are reading this and don't suffer from such fears you could well be thinking; "Silly woman why didn't she just turn around and walk the other way?" Or you may be of the hard school and think; "Stupid woman why can't she keep herself under control?"

For a second place yourself in Jane's place. What would cause you as a parent to override your basic protective nature towards your offspring? Think about it.... it would really have to be something very powerful. We instinctively protect our children but this mother abandons her two young daughters in the middle of a crowded holiday resort and runs away because of a snake. She leaves them facing her worse fear, an eight foot long python.

If you have a phobia you will understand what is going on. If not you could well be very puzzled and maybe even disturbed by this true story.

What is happening?

This is a step through of the event:-
Jane sees snake
panic mode is set in motion
her flight / fight mechanism is set in motion
adrenaline flooded through her blood stream
fear overrides all logical thoughts
Two options are available run or fight
she is too frightened to fight
her only option is to run
she legs it as fast as possible

At this moment the only thing that matters is her survival she is scared of dying. Her only option is survival as she has stopped thinking logically. All this happens in a split second. In Jane's mind there are no options, fear overrules all thoughts of protecting her two vulnerable daughters.

Once Jane has calmed down away from the threat she is able to rationalise her fear. She will probably feel shame and guilty about her actions. Yet in her mind she would react the same in a similar situation. She knows that her fear is still there waiting to be triggered again.

Why does Jane react this way?

Hundreds of people around Jane that day walked past that same snake, some even had it draped around their necks and had a photograph taken. Why is Jane the only person who reacts this way. I am sure that some people would have had lesser reactions but most could cope with their minor fear of snakes. Only Jane appears to have had this overriding panic.

Author's Bio: 

Ian Bracegirdle is a teacher, course leader and therapist. He uses methods drawn from Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis and other areas to help people lead more fulfilled lives. He live in East Morton in West Yorkshire in the UK. He currently works from home and looks forward to helping you with any personal concerns. The web site to visit is http://www.designingchange.co.uk