PHOBIAS and IRRATIONAL FEARS
By Dr. Barry Lubekin
Human beings experience hundreds of different phobias and overwhelming fears and anxieties. Many are deep rooted, and find their origin in long forgotten childhood traumas. Others develop more recently and are traced to reactions to frightening events or complex relationship dilemmas. When these phobic reactions actually interfere with normal daily functioning,professional intervention is the best course.
Here is an example of the 2 origins of an airplane flying phobia: the first patient was traumatized at age 11 when flying with her newly divorced parents,the plane hit very unsettling turbulence and she was very uncomfortable flying as an adult. The second patient, panicked at the possibility that her husband was cheating on her,refused to fly to various job assignments, fearful that the husband would carry on his affair while she was gone! Note….the same fear with two very different origins, and treated in very different ways.
The most effective treatment for irrational simple phobias is called “flooding” and involves gradual exposure in imagery and in real life to the phobic object or situation. More complex phobias( eg. The fearful wife above) are best treated with cognitive behavior therapy(CBT) involving assertiveness training, meditation and relaxation techniques, and challenging irrational needs for dependence,and superstitious beliefs.
Do you have a phobia? Describe it to me in a private email. Send to IBT email@example.com and I will be happy to let you know the best treatment options available. Make your message attention to Dr. Lubetkin. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Dr. Barry Lubetkin is in private practice in NYC. He is the co-director of the Institute for Behavior Therapy. He is a published author and frequent guest on TV and radio shows as an authoritative voice on mental health issues.