Phobia and Trauma
A phobia is an intense and unreasonable fear towards an object or a situation that is not causing immediate danger. Phobia has traditionally been associated with anxiety disorders and is caused by external stimuli. For example, an extreme fear towards cockroach, lizard, germs, height or social situation. However, recent research pointed out that phobia may develop internally and this type of phobia is often related to the experience of traumatic events.
Trauma-based phobia act as a defence against any perceived threat of the traumatic memories being triggered. The phobia act as a defence to protect the trauma survivors from the full realisation of the traumatic experience and its impact on his or her life. However, the phobia heightened the trauma survivors’ dissociation and further disintegrate their personality which has already been affected by the traumatic experience. In some situation, the trauma survivors may develop a fear of living a normal life. In my clinical experience, I have encountered clients who sought therapy for depression yet resist treatment for fear of not knowing how to live their life without feeling depressed. It took them sometimes to overcome fear through counselling.
To recover from the phobia, it is recommended that the survivors seek professional help from a trained therapist who will work with him or her to uncover the underlying caused and its interrelated problem, identify areas to gradually increase and strengthen tolerance towards the traumatic stimuli. As the tolerance increase, the fear of the event or items would eventually decrease.
Ref: Van Der Hart, O., Nijenhuis, E. R. S. & Steele, K. (2006). Outliers: The haunted Self [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Jongh. A. D. (2015). EMDR Therapy for Specific Fears and Phobias: The Phobia Protocol.
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