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How hypnotherapy can cure your irrational fears

How it helped eliminate my arachnophobia- my greatest irrational fear.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Most of the time I start discussing hypnotherapy, raised eyebrows start emerging and people immediately assume it's some kind of a hoax- it’s not. It is used for so many reasons: addiction, anxiety, cannabis use, cocaine addiction, and for me my arachnophobia.

It is most often used before childbirth (i.e Kate Middleton used it) and bulimia as well as insomnia and addiction. Sadly, most people imagine ‘hypnotherapy’ to be some kind of fantasy in a Disney movie where the snake in the Jungle Book or the witch in snow white uses their crystal ball to tell you what to do. I’ve done it, and I can tell you, it is completely the opposite- the best way to see it is some form of enhanced meditation. I would like to tell you my own experience with hypnotherapy and how it led to self-improvement as a person. Apparently, most people are in a state of hypnosis twice a day (a.k.a kind of like zoning out).

But what exactly is hypnotherapy?

In fact, it is just another ‘form of psychotherapy where a therapist creates a state of focused attention and increased suggestibility to eliminate irrational and often problematic fears’ states the dictionary. I have to agree with this statement- there are no pendulums or strange rooms with crystal balls. It is actually relatively normal.

I had one of my greatest irrational fears cured thanks to this method. Most people have some kind of strange fear: clowns, mice, spiders even bananas (called fructophobia).

Mine was spiders- I was terrified by their eyes and their legs. They looked like soulless aliens to me, their neatly arranged eyes giving me nightmares and their hairy legs scrambling around causing me to scratch my back. Every time I would see a close-up picture of these spiders, I would start hyperventilating and I would frantically run away, curling up in a ball in the corner of the room, waiting until I calmed down.

It got to the point where I would ask people around me to check-in magazines (i.e Nat geo) & newspapers for images of arachnids. I would avoid all animal documentaries or anything relating to animals at all.

There was a day where I was watching my first animal documentary in a whole year with a friend and everything changed. I would tell him every five minutes to tell me if a spider was going to pop up, always slightly avoiding the screen just in case. He then told me something I had never known: he himself had had major arachnophobia and he had by now cured it. I asked him how.

He was eager to speak- he spoke about how he had gone to these trial sessions as a group therapy where a hypnotherapist would make them lie down and make them fall into a semi-conscious state. Then following a few sessions, his arachnophobia was gone.

At first, I was skeptical- how could hypnosis in hypnotherapy work. I believed like most, it was a load of baloney and some strange form of alternate therapy. His story to me seemed off- how would a form of meditation help you cure your fear and how would it even count as hypnosis or therapy.

My friend’s discussion

My fear got worse- I avoided anything relating to animals, I stopped looking at the news- something I loved doing- after I coincidentally passed an image of a tarantula. I would often have recurring nightmares involving spiders covering me and it forced me to entirely cover myself in my bedsheets as I thought spiders wouldn't be able to reach me under them. It was the middle of the summer and it meant that I had difficulty sleeping. I wanted this fear to stop but I didn’t know-how.

It got to the point where I decided I would try out my friend's formula- at worst the hypnotherapy wouldn’t work and I had wasted my day and money or otherwise, I would be able to recover from this terrible irrational fear.

A meeting at the hypnotherapist

I went to this hypnotherapist in South Kensington in London- I entered the place where she worked. It was completely normal, like a therapist's office with a small kitchenette in the corner and a couch and pretty much nothing else. I sat down and she told me stories of others who had been here too- she told me a story of a little boy that had also seen her a few months before for the same reason- a terrible case of arachnophobia. She explained how after a few sessions, he had been able to easily touch a tarantula in his hand.

She explained how it worked vaguely; under his semi-conscious state of hypnosis (basically semi asleep and meditative state) she had been able to change the subconscious of the boy so that he associated spiders with good things- in this case, a cuddly toy.

Then it started- I was lying on the sofa and she told me to close my eyes. Initially, she told me she would test my susceptibility to the therapy (80% have average susceptibility and 10% have high and low susceptibility). She told me to imagine a lemon was in my hand- this seemed super strange to me and I thought this was the beginning of the hoax. Slowly I entered this stage in between sleep and consciousness where I could nearly imagine and feel the lemon with the lemon making my mouth water. It was as if, my brain was bypassing the conscious and going straight to the unconscious. She clapped her hand and told me to open my eyes again. Even today, I find this moment strange.

She then told me to fall back onto the couch and then told me to imagine I was at the top of a flight of stairs. I was told to count to ten and that by the end, I would be at the bottom of the stairs where everything was dark. This sounds really weird to an outsider but the way she said it made it sound normal- the power of words. Slowly, I fell into this sort of strange trance and by 0, I had reached the bottom of my imaginary stairs. The next part is kind of confusing because since I was in this sort of meditative sleep-like trance, I could only vaguely remember what happened. I think she spoke about how spiders were these cute creatures and they were super kind, repeating it again and again.

Anyways, she clapped her hands again and I was again fully conscious. It felt like the nicest experience I had ever been in. It was as if I had woken up from this long soothing dream and at first, it seemed like nothing had happened. I got back home and I was still scared of spider images because I didn’t dare search them up or even start to watch a documentary.

But something still attracted me to this hypnotherapy- I went thrice and every time this same method was used. However, the third time really was the breakthrough. After that, I had been able to search up spider images and all my irrational fear is gone. Now I even find it absurd why I was so scared of these creatures and I even find them kind of interesting to look at.

I am sure even now, there are skeptics reading this and wondering if this is true. If you search up hypnotherapy you will clearly see hundreds of videos, articles, and podcasts discussing it. Apparently, it has a 93% success rate according to therapist Kimberly Friedmuttter and I can tell you from my own story, that is definitely true.

Bulimics and addicts use it and most importantly, it is used by day-to-day people like me. I used it for my own irrational fear and it worked so I guess it would work for everyone else. So next time, you pass by your greatest fear; mice or clowns, remember you do not have to remain with this sinister fear. You can get rid of it using hypnotherapy and with it develop a healthier relationship with your fears for the rest of your life.

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