Designing Change

Developing your Ability to Develop Yourself


Ian Bracegirdle NLP therapy and hypnosis


Ian Bracegirdle

1 Elderberry Close

East Morton     


BD20 5WA             U.K.

Tel: 01535 692207

Mobile: 07931 315 014,


Phobias - “What are they?”

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 all around them.

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 floods 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 runs as fast as possible.

At this moment the only thing that matters is her survival she is literally scared of dying. Her only option is survival as she has simply 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.

To explain

All phobias are apparently irrational, but in truth they are not. They are in fact based upon primitive self survival knowledge / instinct. In order to stay safe we must be aware of dangers in our environment. Natural dangers are:-

  • Heights you could fall off
  • spiders - some spiders are poisonous
  • snakes - some are poisonous
  • being enclosed - the cave roof could fall down or you might be trapped in
  • dogs or other animals - could savage you
  • vomiting - a sign of possible dangerous disease or just plain unpleasant
  • darkness - not possible to see dangers
  • open spaces - there are dangers all around in the World.
  • etc.etc.........

The list is extensive All these phobias have one common element, possible threats to life. Other phobias may be connected to life threatening or fear inducing situations. Fears of such things as buttons, birds, touching, nakedness, etc. all are linked emotionally to some situation in which a sense of fear or panic was induced.

For instance the fear of buttons could well stem from an early childhood experience of having a button tangled in long hair. Or of being unable to remove a coat or cardigan causing a young child to panic.

All phobias seem to stem from some significant experience. This significant event is linked to our basic, primitive, fears and fixed permanently in the mind  Many people are unable to recall the event as it is back in very early childhood

Another factor of phobias is that they can grow just like snowballs, each time the phobic reaction occurs it strengthens the fear. This is because each experience is linked emotionally to the previous one. When the reaction is triggered you are reacting mentally to all previous feelings of fear in the same context. Your mind has created a structure to deal with the fear and each time you go through a similar experience the structure grows larger and stronger.

Imagine it this way.

The mind stores all experiences good, bad and indifferent with the emotion experienced at the time. The first experience of a fear is linked to the second and subsequent events of the same kind. Thus the phobia can grow and grow becoming more powerful with age. Phobias are emotional events and our brain is set up to react to fears before logic can assists us.


The diagram above gives an idea of this structure. The central square represents the first experience. This is then embedded in and linked to the second event and then linked and embedded to the third. This causes the emotions from each event to be linked together. Each new experience triggers the emotions of all past experiences and the new one is added to the structure. To remove or reduce a phobia what needs to be done is to break the links between each emotional memory or override the structure with a new one.

The Remedies

Most people with phobias want them cured. Phobias can cause embarrassment, a sense of shame, fear of it happening again and at times a sense of disbelief. People are often mystified and puzzled by their reactions because in all other situations they are rational beings. There is at times a fear of mental illness. There is no shame about phobias and there is no mental illness. Phobias are simply a part of your mind developing a habit that can be limiting in some situations. This habit is triggered and the mind runs the habit. Our minds are set up to run habits for without habitual behaviour our lives would be impossible. Imagine having to relearn how to do everything that you know to take you through each day, from putting on your socks to driving to work.

The remedy for all phobias is to create a new habit or break the old one


Trance is a very relaxed state induced by the practice of hypnotism. The subject is able to make connections with the subconscious mind in a way that can help to create permanent changes. It is a very safe practice and can be a very pleasant experience. The subject is lead through a series of visualisations to create a better way of responding to the trigger for the phobia. In my experience this method works well for some people.

Collapsing Anchors or Clare’s Phobia Cure

This method is brilliant to see in action and can take as little as 15 minutes to carry out. It works for what I term simple phobias that have little or no attachment to traumatic life events. The client is asked to recall the reaction to the trigger and to discover the subtleties of the chain reaction. Once this is understood by both the practitioner and the client then three very positive states of mind are recalled. Each one of the positives is anchored by touch or verbally by the practitioner. Then as the memory of the phobic reaction is again recalled the anchor is fired and the three positive experience rewire the brain to bring in those positive experiences in the old fear filled situation.

It is magical when it works as the change happens before your very eyes.

The NLP Rapid Phobia or Trauma Cure

Difficult to explain in a brief paragraph this is another rapid phobia cure. The client is asked to bring to mind two very positive experiences. Then from a detached view point to recall the memory of a phobic reaction as an observer. It is best done in a light trance or very relaxed state. Once that is done the client puts one positive experience before the recall of the phobic event and one after it. The whole sequence is then run through several times and the power of the phobic trigger is gauged until it no longer has any power.

This is again a powerful method that works best with people who are good at visualising. Sometimes it is best done in trance.

Drop Through

I learned this method though the writings of Bob Bodenhammer and L. Michael Hall.

In a relaxed state the client is taken back through the emotional attachments to experiences of the phobia. Each emotion is recorded by the practitioner until the primary emotion is recalled. At this stage the client experiences a switch in feelings. This signals to the practitioner that the primary cause has been located and the rebuilding process can begin.

This process can cause some discomfort but it is very minor when compared to desensitisation. It is again a powerful process and tends to work for most phobias and is particularly good when used with the more difficult phobias which have other layers of trauma. It has also many other uses and can be used to track back many conditions set up in early childhood.

Most phobias need at least two one hour session some need up to four. The final part of any of the treatments is testing it out in the world.

Get in touch now if you want to go ahead and get rid of that annoying phobia. 01535 692207

The types of practitioners to see are Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioners, Clinical Hypnotist, counsellors and psychiatrists.


Some people don’t want to give up their phobias! You may find that a difficult idea to accept but it is something that can be read about in the literature and I have experienced it.

I was once asked to visit a woman with agoraphobia. I asked her about her concern and she told me about her life being limited to the home and how she had her life organised. She had people to go shopping for her. She did not go to work. Her family were very supportive and tend many of her needs. The only thing missing in her life was going out. In her immaculate front room I explained my techniques and forecast that I would have her going out in very little time. The poor lady panicked and told me that she did not want any of that.

I concluded that her life was too cosy and comfortable for her to give it up. I could be wrong but every other person I have worked with has wanted to make the change. I have recently had a similar response from a man with depression. He became very anxious when I explained what I could help him achieve. In fact he seemed to be afraid of the remedies that I offered him. Again I think that he had a vested interest in staying as he was and being attended by his loving wife and children.

Agoraphobia more help

Flying phobia

 social phobias

 other specific phobias


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