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Cracking the ‘phobia’ nut

Phobia? Even that word sets pulses racing, and even tough nuts such "Game of Thrones" The Hound have them. Our breakthrough expert has some advice

Christopher Paul Jones Phobia expert Harley Street Game of Thrones The Hound

Whether it’s spiders, heights, flying or snakes many of us hold irrational phobias that can cripple our lifestyles. Christopher Paul Jones, aka The Breakthrough Expert, is a therapist based in Harley Street who specialises in helping people let go of their fears, anxieties and even their phobias; from a fear of public speaking to anxieties around work and he has some sage words for Muddy readers. Even the toughest of nuts, have and can overcome their personal phobia, take Game of Thrones (I know, any excuse to get it in a discussion).

Game of Thrones (G.O.T) has recently returned to our screens, and Mr Muddy is counting the days to each new episode. In George R. R. Martin’s amazing but traumatic world; it’s surprising that every character isn’t suffering from anxiety or a phobia. One character who does have a phobia is Sandor Clegane (played by Rory McCann). Better known as the Hound, he’s as tough as they come – but when he sees fire he becomes a terrified wreck. Classic phobia symptoms.
In season two, in the battle of the Black Water the Hound is charged by a man on fire. You watch him shift from a brave warrior to being frozen by fear. Suddenly he packs it all in, leaves the battle, and quits the city, but can you really be that tough and fearless and still have a phobia?

Yes, because phobias are not based on logic. They start with an experience which triggers the brain to link fear to an event or object. It could be that as a young child you experienced a turbulent flight and your mind linked flying to danger. Or you watched your parents reacting to a spider, creating the same fear in you. If this fear is deep enough, whenever you encounter that thing you will feel the same emotions.

So, could the Hound remove his phobia and could we remove ours? Yes, and the first step is to create a place of safety in the mind that is linked to positive feelings and emotions. Think of a time when you felt completely calm. Notice all the images, feelings and sounds that go with this. Now squeeze your fist to create a link between the emotion and the gesture. As the emotion fades release your fist. Keep repeating this, then test it by squeezing your fist. Notice what you feel. If it’s strong enough, just the act of squeezing your fist will bring back that feeling of safety.

Next, we need to re-educate the subconscious using ‘cross lateral stimulation.’ If you focus on your fear while doing the exercises below, the mind cannot hold the fear and do the exercises at the same time, so it lets go of the fear. This is most effectively when done on the first, or trigger, event. In the Hound’s case, it would be when his brother attacked him.

Look straight ahead, thinking about your fear. Allow your eyes to move slowly from left to right. Keep repeating this, while thinking about your fear; your phobia will reduce in intensity. Now play with the images linked to the phobia. Make the images small, remove the colour, run it backwards, give it Mickey Mouse ears and circus music – this will change the dynamics. Keep playing with the images until the feelings associated with it are reduced.

If Sandor were real, we could completely remove his phobia and you never know, he and Drogon the dragon could become the best of friends.

Rory Jones The Hound Game of Thrones

Ah, look at his happy face

To find our more about Christopher Paul Jones click here

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