The Fear Factor

By: Elaina Curran, HPD, DSFH, CNHCreg, AfSFHreg

Fear was not meant to be the negative influence it represents today. In fact, it used to be extremely useful in helping Primitive Man live to see another day. It is almost as if fear has evolved along with humanity, becoming an effective tool in the control, influence and manipulation of others. 

Oddly, fear has also become a source of entertainment as horror movies rake in millions, haunted house attractions in North America gain popularity and extreme sports draw participants from far and wide.

The brain is hard-wired for fear and, for better or worse, it is an integral part of how we react and respond to the world. The problem comes when it spirals out of control. Fear is at the root of a range of disorders including anxiety (a combination of stress and fear), phobias, panic attacks, Hypochondria, Social Anxiety Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among others.

But what if there is more? What if there is another level of fear that has been largely overlooked?

People experience fear to varying degrees. What will become a traumatic experience for one person might not even faze another. Science still has no explanation as to why.  PTSD is traditionally known to be initiated by a life threatening or particularly traumatic event(s) which creates flashbacks, over-response and heightened anxiety that are repeated over the long-term. But what of the non-life threatening events that are rooted in fear that actually change the essence of who we are?  These two scenarios may be at opposite ends of the spectrum, but both decidedly result in emotional scars. For example, the marriage that ends so badly, the spouse vows never to remarry. The child that is let down repeatedly by an absent parent and develops trust issues that affect her throughout life. A family member who watches a loved one suffer through a debilitating illness and later is not able to see a physician himself, putting his own life at potential risk. While disorders like PTSD and panic attacks register at the top of the fear scale, these latter experiences ARE capable of impacting a person’s potential happiness as well. They negatively change the way life is lived and the painful stimulus repeatedly influences the choices we make. This can create long-lasting effects. These experiences involving fear should certainly be considered and addressed as well.

Once the pattern(s) of fear are set in our brain, the amygdala, which is our fear centre, will automatically refer to past behaviour and repeat the patterns that already exist. The amygdala is not an intellect nor can it assess situations, so it cannot determine whether that particular response is of benefit. Because we are dealing with our primal survival instinct, it can easily override our conscious thoughts. Logically, you know that your fear of flying is irrational. There are thousands of flights a day and travelling by plane is considered safe, statistically. However, it is almost like a part of you that you cannot control takes over. Once the amygdala flags a potential threat, all of the body’s systems transition to emergency mode and it is difficult to gain the upper hand over our natural response to fear.

If these patterns of fear are a problem for you, hypnotherapy can certainly help to reach the subconscious and overlay new, positive and beneficial patterns to replace the old. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy also works to move forward toward a better future and a happier, healthier you. You have the potential within you to conquer those fears and take control.

Published in BS35 Local, May 2017 issue


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