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"Confront your fear" therapy for phobias

Mental Health Phobias 2005

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#1 Delvo

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 10:34 PM

Do people who are inordinately afraid of something really get over it through more experience with it, or would this be an example of something that is only thought by the pros to work just because the idea sounds so good? Can a phobic person be rid of his/her phobia this way, or is it just supposed to reduce it to a more normal level of fear/worry? If the method works, does it mean that getting someone used to something starting in early childhood would prevent him/her from ever getting the phobia in the first place?

#2 ZipperInt

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 10:41 PM

Interesting question... I've had a fear of heights since childhood, but on a few seperate occassions I've forced myself to do things involving heights - rappelling, rock climbing and climbing up scaffolds to a four-story roof (twice!). Facing the fear hasn't made me less afraid of heights, as the fear is more of a biological/sub-concious reaction than a concious one, but the thought of doing something involving heights is definitely not as scary as it would have been had I not faced those challenges.

So - the idea probably works in some cases by reducing the fear to a normal level of worry, and getting used to something in childhood would probably prevent them getting the phobia in the first place, but then again everyone is different and there are always those traumatic events which create phobias in adulthood... :whistle:
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#3 QueenTiye

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 10:55 PM

Delvo, on Jun 4 2005, 11:34 PM, said:

Do people who are inordinately afraid of something really get over it through more experience with it, or would this be an example of something that is only thought by the pros to work just because the idea sounds so good?

Depends on how the person approaches it.  Of course fear is changed by experience, so having experiences that are positive when one feared they would be negative, or NOT negative where one expected negative, allows for a change in experience.  So, dumping a person with a genuine phobia in an uncontrolled situation is probably NOT a good idea, but in a controlled environment... I do believe it can help.  I have personal experience with overcoming fears or having seen others become less fearful due to having to confront something fearful and having available tools to confront them.

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Can a phobic person be rid of his/her phobia this way, or is it just supposed to reduce it to a more normal level of fear/worry?

I should have said above that I'm speaking from personal experience, but don't really know what the professional answer is... but from personal experience... the level of anxiety is significantly decreased, but not gone.

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If the method works, does it mean that getting someone used to something starting in early childhood would prevent him/her from ever getting the phobia in the first place?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


This I can answer. NO.  Some phobias start in adulthood, and are born of bad experiences.  The phobia I had was one that started when I was about 15 because of a bad experience I had growing up.  I wasn't born with this fear, and I hadn't seemed to develop it when I was living through the actual experience.  But once away from the situation - I developed a phobia... as if this situation that made me fearful would somehow put me back in an unsafe place - a place I hadn't been afraid of when I was actually in it!  So the fear was not of the situation itself, but of its potential to drag my life backwards... in other words - it was a fear that became possible because I was an adult, with adult awareness.  

Hope that helps a little bit...

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#4 Rhys

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 11:18 PM

I'd think that, like most psychological therapies, it would work for some people, and not for others...

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#5 Nonny

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 09:20 AM

Rhys, on Jun 4 2005, 08:18 PM, said:

I'd think that, like most psychological therapies, it would work for some people, and not for others...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Quite right.  And once you've conquered a fear, you have to maintain an occupation.  

As a successful conqueror of fears, I suggest, from my own experience, that it takes strong motivation, hard work, and excellent guidance.  I doubt that dealing with the "torture the crazies" types would have worked for me, but that doesn't mean it couldn't for someone else.  

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