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Category: Phobias

  1. Everything you need to know about Agoraphobia

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    Agoraphobia (from Greek word, "gathering place") is an anxiety disorder characterized by anxiety in situations where the sufferer perceives certain environments as dangerous or uncomfortable, often due to the environment's vast openness or crowdedness. These situations include, but are not limited to, wide-open spaces, as well as uncontrollable social situations such as the possibility of being met in shopping malls, airports, and on bridges. Agoraphobia is defined as a subset of panic disorder, involving the fear of incurring a panic attack in those environments.  The sufferer may go to great lengths to avoid those situations, in severe cases becoming unable to leave their home or safe haven.


    Agoraphobia Meaning

    It’s interesting to note that Agoraphobia was a term coined by the German neurologist Westphal in 1871. In his original description, Westphal described four patients who had attacks of anxiety in public places. Interestingly, they were all men and he described how several of them used alcohol to reduce their fears. The term 'agoraphobia' derives from the Greek, the word 'agora' meaning the market place. This term, Westphal felt was appropriate because it described how people felt vulnerable in public places and in particular where there was no obvious exit. At the same time, another neurologist, Benedikt, coined another term (Platzschwindel) which translated from the German, means dizziness in public places. Over the years, this syndrome has been called many things, one of the most convoluted terms being the "phobic anxiety depersonalisation syndrome!"

    The Agoraphobic Cluster

    The problem with many agoraphobics is that they have a number of fears that are separate but related to everyday activities.  This is extremely common and one that you may recognise in yourself.  This is commonly known as the ‘agoraphobic cluster.’  The fears associated with an ‘agoraphobic cluster’ often have to be tackled separately to really overcome them.

    The great thing about overcoming one fear is that they often help you overcome another fear.  Also once you have learnt to overcome one fear your confidence increases and you know what you need to do to overcome the next fear.   This may take more time but probably not more work.

    What really causes Agoraphobia?

    agoraphobiaAgoraphobia effects people in different ways, but the overriding common feeling is feeling ‘trapped’ in a situation where they cannot easily escape to the safety of home, the car, outside, etc.  The ‘agoraphobia cluster’ comes in to the equation because the person may have panic attacks in different situations, but they relate to the same thoughts which are to do with the feeling of being trapped. 

    The common fears include -

    • Enclosed environments such as lifts, boats, shops, cinema, trains, etc.
    • Places where leaving is embarrassing - the dentists, queues, meetings, hairdressers, etc.
    • Crowded places - pubs, large shops, festivals, restaurants, etc.

    Agoraphobics are often affected by other phobias which are linked to the above.

    • Environmental phobias, thunder, lightening, wind, anything that can make the person feel threatened and frightened to leave home.
    • Bodily phobias – blushing, heart attacks, strokes, vomiting, etc
    • Social phobias – eating in public or drinking in pubs.  Standing in crowds because their legs feel wobbly, making a fool of themselves in front of people, etc. 
    • Specific or simple phobias usually creatures such as dogs, birds, insects, reptiles, etc.

    "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold." Helen Keller


    There were several times I come close to having full blown agoraphobia. Thankfully I always persevered and made myself go outside even when I felt it was the last thing I wanted to do.  From research we know agoraphobia usually develops between 18 & 35 years old and affects approx 1.5 to 3.5 % of the population.

    Full blown agoraphobia probably affects .5 to 1 % of the population so there could be well over half a million people who are stuck in their own homes.  In a less severe form it’s estimated about 1 in 8 (i.e. about 5-7 million people) may have some agoraphobic symptoms.   

    Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia

    Over recent years the American classification system has reclassified agoraphobia as a more general panic disorder condition.  It states panic attacks at being at its core.  This is open to dispute but from my own experience panic attacks and agoraphobia are linked.  By fearing you’re going to have a panic attack if you step out of the comfort of your own home, you develop a phobia to protect yourself from the fear of the symptoms or sensations. 

    If we go back to the beginning it’s worth remembering that 1 in 3 people will have at least one panic attack in their life.  That’s around 20 million people in the UK, but only a small proportion will develop panic disorder.

    Agoraphobia seems to develop in early adult life.  It peaks around 18 to 30 years of age.  It’s very rare to develop this condition after the age of 30, although people who come forward with this condition in their 40’s and 50’s usually have experienced initial symptoms of agoraphobia for many years.  If agoraphobia does develop later on in life and no phobic history can be found of the sufferer fearing public events or social interaction, then its usually part of some other illness like depression.

    What is Agoraphobia

    People use to think agoraphobia meant fear of ‘open spaces’ but we now know this is incorrect.  Agoraphobics fear being trapped or far from the safety of somewhere (i.e. home or car). This maybe an out of town shopping centre, theme park or motorway.  Sometimes the word ‘agoraphobic cluster’ is used to diagnose the sufferer’s condition where there is a variety of reasons or phobias which stop them leaving a place of safety. 

    Its also worth mentioning that a person can have a phobia of wide open spaces called space phobia.   There are several theories stating this is an evolutionary fear when it was not safe for us to go out into open spaces, where we could have been attacked by predators.  I don’t really buy into this line of thinking as its our thoughts in these places that define how we feel, rather than some inbuilt warning system.

    How common is a Phobia?

    It’s worth checking out Mind.org.uk (the mental health charity) as it has lots of information on phobias.  It estimates that in the UK there are around 10 million people with a phobia.

    It is estimated that agoraphobia without panic disorder affects around 4% of women and 2% of men during any 12-month period.

    There has been lots of famous people who have suffered from this condition as well, so please don’t feel your alone.  Heart throb Donny Osmond has also experienced agoraphobia and panic attacks. 

    Billy Bob Thornton suffered from agoraphobia and has said that he was sometimes afraid to go out. The eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes may also have had some form of agoraphobia.

    Philip K. Dick, author of mostly science fiction was also agoraphobic. Some of his work has been turned into films like Blade Runner (one of my favourite films) and Total Recall.

    Woody Allen suffers from both agoraphobia and claustrophobia and spent many years going through psychoanalysis. Speaking of psychoanalysis, it's ironic that "the father of psychoanalysis", Sigmund Freud, suffered agoraphobia.

    Kim Basinger one of the most famous Hollywood actresses said, “I used to go home and play piano and scream at night to let out my frustrations and this led to my agoraphobia.” Basinger was featured in a 2001 HBO documentary called Panic: A Film About Coping, in which she describes her struggle with agoraphobia. “Fear has been something I’ve lived with my entire life, the fear of being in public places.”

    How does agoraphobia develop?

    Agoraphobia usually develops after a series of ‘life stressors’ which cause anxiety levels to increase and self confidence to diminish.  Agoraphobia does not seem to be triggered by a single trauma or bad experience. 

    Some people express that the symptoms can come and go according to the problems in the person’s life.   But if the problem persists over many months or even years then eventually it spreads and becomes more severe.  The symptoms that people suffer can vary greatly depending on how much of a grip it has on them, but generally they are the same as panic disorder.  Often people can tolerate them for quite some time before it really starts impacting on their lives. They eventually find things like holidays and work becoming increasingly difficult.  For other people once the symptoms start they worsen rapidly. 

    What are the symptoms of agoraphobia?

    They are just the same as panic attacks and can be found on my website http://www.positivepanicattacks.com/whatarethesymptomsofapanicattack.html.   In avoiding their fears agoraphobic people stay at home, but their anxieties continue to worsen and so they may develop other disorders like depression or OCD. 

    Often agoraphobic sufferers have similar fears to social phobic people in that they fear doing something embarrassing when they leave home or going crazy in front of other people.

    Also agoraphobia can lead to other symptoms like depression, obsessive thoughts, lack of interest in sex, lack of confidence, health issues related to lack of exercise - weight gain, lack of sunlight, etc.  By far women are more affected then men.  anxiety or panic a As described earlier many people think of agoraphobia as a fear of leaving a safe place, but there is much more to it than that.  You may have the condition in its various degrees but not even know it.  Such as - 

    -      Worrying when you leave the safety of home

    -      Fear in crowded or public places

    -      Feeling trapped when you’re in a place which your unable to leave or escape

    -      Fear of getting stuck in lifts

    -      Fear of being unable to escape on Public Transport – bus, train or plane

    -      Standing  in a queue

    -      Having a need to go out with a ‘safe person’ then becoming totally reliant on that person for help.

    -      Fear of going over bridges

    -      Sitting in a dentist’s chair or hairdressers chair

    -      Feeling you will lose control in situation and freak out and embarrass yourself

    If your suffering from 3 or more of these symptoms then you could be agoraphobic.




    Overcoming Panic and Agoraphobia

    How to Stop Anxiety & Panic Attacks: A Simple Guide to using a specific set of Techniques to Stop Panic Attacks...

     Free Yourself From Anxiety: A self-help guide to overcoming anxiety disorders


    How to Cure Panic Attacks

    What is a Panic Attack?

    How to Cure and Recover from Panic Attacks

    Understanding What Phobias Are?


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  2. Fast Phobia Cure Technique

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    The Rewind Technique

    This is a description of the “rewind technique”.  It’s sometimes called the “visual-kinesthetic dissociation technique”.  This approach has been proposed as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.  It essentially consists of instructions to imagine what you’re afraid off, with suggestions for separation/distance/’dissociation’ from the image.  Evidence for the use of this technique in the treatment of trauma or phobias is very limited, but due to its popularity it suggests it does have benefits. 

    Hypnosis Rewind Technique

    The rewind technique has been used for many years to help de-traumatize sufferers.  The technique is safe and does not require the individual to return to traumatic places.  The sufferer needs to be fully relaxed and comfortable for it too work. 

    How does the Rewind Technique Work?

    When fully relaxed a practitioner will encourage the sufferer to bring their anxieties to the surface, and watch uncomfortable images of the event at a distance from a bystander’s point of view.  The idea being that they will feel relaxed and calm as they watch these events rather than being involved in them directly.  The sufferer will also be in a relaxed position such as a seat or bed. 

    The Rewind technique scriptThe rewind technique starts by the sufferer being asked to imagine they are at the cinema or watching TV at home.  In other words there needs to be a screen in front of them.   They are then asked to float outside their body and watch themselves watching the screen including themselves on the screen (double dissociation.) 

    Next they watch themselves watching a film of a traumatic event that is causing them fear.  The film has to be something they have experienced.  The film begins when the trauma starts and stops when the trauma ends.  The sufferer feels safe because although they are in the film they are just viewing themselves watching it.  They are usually asked to imagine the film in black and white at first.

    NLP Rewind Technique

    After they have watched it through, as if there watching it from the projection room of a cinema, they are asked to float back into their body on screen (not in the audience.)  The traumatic event they have just watched is then rewound. 

    Next they are asked to watch the film in full colour but the film is fast forward (dissociation).  This traumatic event is then played backwards and forwards at whatever speed the sufferer feels comfortable with, until it evokes no negative emotion from the sufferer.  

    If the fear is in the future such as walking through a busy shopping centre, the sufferer will be asked to visualize this image and imagine themselves doing it confidently without anxiety. 

    Rewind Technique PTSD

    This technique is ideal for people with extreme phobias or PTSD as it does not require them entering into a situation that could cause real anguish.

    If you don't really have a phobia, you can use it to get rid of any limiting or unhelpful negative response you have to a bad memory.  It won't erase the memory, but you'll be left with a more healthy relationship with it. 

    Rewind Technique Script or Training

    You might want to get someone to read the instructions out loud to you with the appropriate gaps, or alternatively you can learn the sequence before you start.

    If your phobia trigger involves cinemas then its best to think of yourself sat at home watching TV than at the cinema.  Otherwise, give yourself some quiet space to go through this properly.  I hope you find it as effective as it certainly can be. Before you start, just remind yourself that the phobia was real by imagining the phobia trigger and feeling the bad feelings that come.  In a few minutes you may find those feelings may have vanished.

    1. Try relaxation or hypnotic induction exercises before beginning the Rewind Technique to get your mind and body to relax.  You want to try and reach your subconscious mind.

    2. I’m going to ask you to do certain things which will help to relieve the distress caused by recurrent thoughts and images.  I will give directions one part at a time and then I want you to ‘visualize’ and do it.

    3. I want you to imagine that you are sitting in the middle of a cinema.  It is dark and there is no-one else there as the cinema has been hired just for you. It’s a comfortable seat, the cinema is warm, and you feel quite safe.  You can picture a real cinema that you know well.

    4. In a little while you are going to watch a movie of the memory that led to the phobic response you have. However, the movie won't be projected normally. It's actually a very old black-and-white movie in which you star, playing yourself.  The picture quality will also be a bit fuzzy and washed out, as if the film is really old. There won't be any sound, but instead there will be a musical soundtrack. The music will be comical, so please choose something from a favourite TV show which sounds inherently funny. Benny Hill, The Muppets, Monty Python, etc.  Remember too that you'll be seeing yourself in the film, so this will be a new way of viewing the events.

    5.  Before we start the film, think of some situation where you know you are solid, strong and excellent. This can be anything from being able to bake sensational food to being an expert on general knowledge. Let yourself feel that rather comfortable, smug feeling of power, and let it spread into every inch of your body.  Really exaggerate it and notice how it feels, letting your body remember it.  Let this be your state of mind while you watch the film.

    6.  On the screen you can see a black and white snapshot, a still in which you see yourself just before the traumatic or phobic event.  On 'Go', you're going to play the film. But not quite yet. Up above you is a little projection room. 

    7. Now I want you to float out of your body up to the projection room in the cinema where you can watch yourself watching the screen. From this position you will be able to see the whole cinema including your head and shoulders sitting in the middle of the cinema.  Also see yourself in the still picture on the screen.  The film will play from beginning to end and tell the whole story of the memory in vintage fuzzy black and white.  At the end it will freeze-frame.  If someone is reading these instructions out to you, you should let that very helpful someone know that you've got to the end by telling them. But keep your eyes closed. Ready? Start the music . . . Go.

    8. I want you to turn the snapshot on the screen into a moving film and watch it at the normal pace from the beginning to the end. You will see and feel what occurred at the time. When you get past what is the worst of the experience the memory begins to fade, and I want you to stop the film and allow it to become a still again.

    9. Finished? Good. Now, keep it frozen on that last frame. Float down from the projection room into the picture on the screen.  Congratulate yourself for being so brave, and for having survived an unpleasant experience, or whatever is appropriate.

    10.  By jumping inside the experience, see everything as if it were happening now. The picture is now in colour.  Feel the temperature of the air around you, notice what is going on, be aware of any sound, smell, or taste.  I want you to experience this as accurately and quickly as you can.

    11. In a moment, you are going to run the whole film back-wards, at top speed, with you inside it, viewing everything from that first-person perspective. The same music will play back-wards at top speed, but the fast rewinding will be over fairly quickly. When you get back to the start, you can open your eyes. That will complete the process. Ready? Full colour now, played backwards to the start and seen from inside. Go!  Run the film backwards, all the people will move backwards, everything will move in reverse, just like rewinding a film except that you are inside this film, and you will experience everything happening in reverse.

    12. Good. Eyes open? Great. Now, check that it's worked. Think of that old trigger again. What's different now? Are you finding that the old response has gone? Can it be that easy?

    13. Repeat this experience, covering different aspects of the events if necessary.  When you rewind it in full colour, try playing it again in full colour with funny music and a feeling of power.  Play it at various speeds backwards and forwards with your new found confidence.

    14. Whenever your memory is triggered, the rewind technique will come in to play until you are back at a safe starting point and you are left with a good image.

    Now what do you do? The next phase is to root your new, 'mature' or 'helpful' response into reality and your memories.  Search out the old trigger and notice that you can be comfortable and happy in its presence. If you had a phobia of dogs, and you now feel OK about them, go find some dogs and get used to not being scared. This is quite an important phase: you need to become familiar with your new reaction (or lack of it), so that this new reaction starts to feel like you. If you tried the above and nothing happened, check to see whether you really gave it your full involvement. If you tried it alone, get someone to read it through for you as this can help you focus.

    I would recommend you give it a try.  Personally I did not use it to overcome my anxieties and phobias but you may receive some benefit from the technique.  

    I hope this works for you!


    the secret blod the secret........


    RESOURCES - Books

    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder For Dummies

    Human Givens: The New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking: A New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking

    The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth


    Fear & Anxiety in the Brain

    How to Stop a Panic Attack?

    Prevent Panic Attacks - Challenging the Thoughts which Cause Panic

    What are Phobias

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    Like what you read?   


    If so, please join to receive exclusive weekly tips & tools to overcome anxiety and panic attacks, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, How to Recover & Cure Yourself of Anxiety & Panic Attacks! Just enter your name and email arrow right

  3. What are Phobias?

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    Understanding what phobias are?


    Understanding What Phobias Are?

    If you suffer from panic attacks and anxiety then there is high probably you have developed lots of phobias.  This is perfectly normal as sufferers tend to associate places, people or creatures with panicky feelings, and this leads to phobias.  I developed a whole number of phobias whilst I suffered from anxiety.  These included standing in queues, heights, social situations, driving on motorways, being in meetings at work, standing in crowds, driving over long bridges, etc.

    These tended to have one thing in common – the feeling of being trapped in a situation.  Therefore if you actually defined what I was suffering from is fitted more into agoraphobia than any other category of phobia.  I also definitely had a social phobia as well.  Most people believe that people who have agoraphobia are restricted to the confines of there home but this is frequently not the case.  Many people lead apparently ‘normal lives’ with agoraphobia however they have limits to where they can go, i.e. they can only travel with a certain radius of where they live.

    what are phobiasPhobias can be over come.  We were not born with phobias and they have been learnt by faulty thinking.   They are a just bad habit, that’s the way I looked at them during my recovery.  They are NOT a form of serious mental illness even though they can lead to intense feelings of fear.  They can also seriously lead to person life being restricted according to what they fear.   Below is a short quiz that will test how much you know about phobias.  The answers are at the bottom of the article.  Think of it as just a bit of fun and test yourself!


    Phobias are: A. A mild kind of mental health problem. B. A disease. C. A set of deeply-ingrained thoughts and habits. D. A personality weakness.


    Anxiety and fear are: A. Natural reactions which are often useful. B. A useless hangover from the days when people lived in caves. C. A sign of weakness or cowardice. D. Something we would be better off without.


    People are said to have a phobia when: A. They worry a lot. B. They experience strong feelings of fear in situations that don't pose a real threat. C. They experience feelings of fear when they are in danger. D. They feel frightened all the time.


    The symptoms of fear are actually produced by: A. Unpleasant thoughts going round and round in the mind which can increase fear. B. The pulse rate continually racing. C. Adrenalin released into the bloodstream inappropriately. D. Picking up 'bad vibes' from others can make people fearful.


    Phobias are made worse by: A. Staying in the situation that makes you anxious. B. Not having an easy 'escape route' when anxiety starts to rise. C. Reading too much about them. D. Avoiding the situation that makes you anxious.


    Finding out the root cause of someone's phobia: A. Is an essential starting point for recovery. B. Is useful for recovery but not essential. C. Is relatively easy to discover. D. Is not worth spending time and energy on.


    The commonest single type of phobia is: A. Fear of dogs. B. Agoraphobia. C. School phobia. D. Dentist phobia.


    The most effective way to overcome a phobia is usually: A, By self-exposure treatment. B. With tranquillisers. C. By going into a psychiatric hospital for a period. D. By avoiding things that trigger it.

    The goals for recovery should be: A. Set as high as possible. B. Set at a realistic level. C. Set by a professional therapist. D. Set as low as possible.

    QUESTION 10.

    The steps towards the recovery goal should be: A. As close together as possible. B. Limited to five. C. Big enough to be worthwhile but not so big as to be too difficult. D. As far apart as possible.

    When fear becomes a phobia

    Phobia comes from the Greek word meaning "fear" or "morbid fear”.   Phobias produce fear or anxiety which happens at a time when there is no logical reason.

    Our species has survived by having fear and anxiety to act as a bodyguard, to warn us of danger and protecting us when it’s near.  Phobias have emerged due to the body having a badly trained bodyguard which constantly overreacts and rings alarms bells in totally the wrong situations.

    Sometimes the alarm bell is so frightening to some people that it keeps them confined to their own home in the belief that this is the only way to keep them safe.

    If you are someone who has phobia then you are probably doing one of two things.

    1. Your reaction (anxiety levels) are not suitable to the level of danger you face
    2. You are taking unnecessary precautions to avoid dangers which are unfounded.

    Many phobic people will go to any lengths to avoid the situation that make them anxious.  This is what they think will help them stay calm.  Therefore we know its more than just experiencing inappropriate levels of anxiety.

    A phobia is anxiety and avoidance put together

    scared manPhobias unfortunately handicap people quite severely.  Imagine you have been locked up in jail unable to go outside or open your windows.  Well phobias can make you become like this.  People with phobias become virtual prisoners in there own home.  For others there life is less restricted but still certain areas become very difficult like driving, eating out, creatures, entering social situations and public places.

    When a friend or relative is talked through how fear and anxiety work it all seems very logical.  But for ‘normal people’ it’s very hard to comprehend.  They tend to think phobias are a weakness in the person character.  They don’t understand how the fear has arisen and quite how ill and frightened the person feels.  They totally misunderstand and are unable top comprehend the fear in involved.

    In future blog posts I intend to show you how to overcome phobias and the roadblocks to recovery you must avoid.

    “It’s hard for everyone. It always seems like it’s hardest for you, but your success and your happiness has much more to do with understanding other people around you than it does with understanding yourself. And, guess what, the homecoming queen probably has crippling phobias too. It sounds cliche, but you have to think about everyone like they’re people, and suddenly you realize that 90% of teenagers have moments where they want to cut themselves, pull out their hair, punch their best friend and sit crying in the shower. And EVERYONE was once a teenager…that goes for your teachers, parents, rock idols, and grand parents…and those people all made it through.”   Hank Green



    Question1 - Phobias are a set of deeply-ingrained thoughts and habits.
    Question2 - Anxiety and fear are natural reactions which are often useful.
    Question3 - People are said to have a phobia when they experience strong feelings of fear in situations that don't pose a real threat. Question4 - The symptoms of fear are produced when adrenalin is released into the bloodstream inappropriately.
    Question5 - Phobias are made worse by avoiding the situation that makes you anxious.
    Question6 - Finding out the root cause of someone's phobia is not usually worth spending a lot of time and energy on.
    Question7 - The commonest single type of phobia is agoraphobia.
    Question8 - The most effective way to overcome a phobia us usually by self-exposure treatment.
    Question9 - The goals for a recovery programme should be set at a realistic level,
    Question10 - The steps towards the recovery goal should be big enough to be worthwhile, but no so big as to be too difficult.

    the secret blod the secret........



    Fear of suffocation and Claustrophobia

    Fear & Anxiety in the Brain

    Why Do Some People Suffer From Panic Attacks?

    Why do you Fear?

    What are the symptoms of Panic Attacks?

    Prevent Panic Attacks - Challenging the Thoughts which Cause Panic

    Tools of the Trade

    Claustrophobia: finding your way out. Hope and help for people who fear and avoid confined spaces

    How to Overcome Agoraphobia & Claustrophobia: Learn to Feel Calm & Think Calm (How to): Learn to Feel Calm and Think Calm [Audiobook] [Paperback]

    Overcoming Panic and Agoraphobia

    School Phobia, Panic Attacks and Anxiety in Children

    The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (Anxiety & Phobia Workbook)

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    Like what you read?   


    If so, please join to receive exclusive weekly tips & tools to overcome anxiety and panic attacks, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, How to Recover & Cure Yourself of Anxiety & Panic Attacks! Just enter your name and email arrow right