You have probably heard about the current craze for people to dress as clowns and jump out on people in the street. In fact, it is so prevalent that it’s difficult to miss the stories in the press and on social media. While the perpetrators undoubtedly find it funny, some people have been frightened to even leave their house for fear of being jumped on by men in clown costumes. For these people, and maybe you too, the fear is very real and very strong. But have you ever wondered where this fear originated from?

It is thought that we are born with only two fears: falling and loud noises. These fears are part of our DNA and are viewed as a mechanism for survival. Any other fears we have, whether it’s snakes, flying, heights or anything are learned behaviours, usually learned in childhood.

Take, for example, someone (who we’ll call John) has a fear of clowns. It could be that when John was very young he went to a friend’s party where there was a clown that did something that made him jump, and he ran away. John’s perception was that running away kept him safe, and that reaction becomes accepted in his subconscious mind as the correct behaviour. So the next time he sees a clown he repeats that behaviour, he finds himself safe again, and so this enforces the fact the running is the correct thing to do. This pattern goes on into adulthood and John will always view clowns as a threat that he need to escape from.

At a basic level this is our natural fight or flight response in action: the instinctive physiological response to a threatening situation, which readies one either to resist forcibly or to run away. In reality clowns are not a risk to us, in fact in most cases clowns are there for our entertainment, but the subconscious mind is made up and the clown remains a threat.

So, how can John deal with this?

Well he could try to face his fears head on, but the fear could be so strong that it makes him feel stressed, physically sick, increase his heartbeat and even cause a panic attack. What if he could ‘unlearn’ this fear? We know it is possible to unlearn things, after all we are brought up believing Father Christmas is real, but before we reach our teens most of us will have ‘unlearnt’ this belief. But how do we achieve this with something that is so ingrained in our subconscious mind?

This is where hypnotherapy for phobias can be so effective. In normal circumstances we don’t have the ability to talk directly to John’s subconscious mind, and his conscious mind would dismiss the thought that clowns are not a threat as ridiculous – after all he’s viewed clowns as a threat for most of his life. However, with hypnosis we can get John in trance state, which will enable us to bypass his conscious mind and talk directly to his subconscious mind, and It’s at this level that we need to make change.

We have a number of ways we can use hypnotherapy for phobias, there are techniques to detach the feeling of fear from the original event, we can change the way he views clowns or we can even regress him back to the original event that caused the fear in the first place and help him view the event through his adult eyes and realise that there was no danger. Whichever technique we choose to use, the important thing is that we can make lasting change to the way John thinks about clowns and remove the fear permanently.

John’s fear of clowns is just one example of how fears can arise and how using hypnotherapy for phobias can be effective. Some fears can be a nuisance but not have a dramatic effect on our lives, but others, such as fear of heights or flying, can serious limit the things we do in life.

If you have any fears or phobias that you’d like to be rid of, why not give me a call on 01303 778574 for a friendly, confidential chat about how I can help you live your life free of fear.

Mark Cousens

Clowns: No laughing matter!

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