Treating Phobias in your Sleep

By exposing people to a fear memory over and over again while they slept, scientists reduced fear during sleep. This is the first time that emotional memory has been manipulated in humans during sleep. “It’s a novel finding,” said Katherina Hauner, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We showed a small but significant decrease… Read more

Phobias and Stress

Phobias often start in childhood. A phobia could be anything you were frightened of when you were little, whether it was a real event or one that was imagined. Were you afraid of the dark? Maybe you were afraid of spiders or insects. Did the stories you were read before you went to sleep cause you to imagine bears in the closets, or tigers under the bed?

You may have been scared of a specific event or a close call. These fears are normal for a child. The problem arises when they carry over into the adult life.

Irrational Fear

Phobias are described as an irrational fear, panic, terror, or dread that happens to you in a relatively harmless situation. You may realize the fear you have is irrational and way out of proportion to the event but are unable to control the responses.

Systematic desensitization is to a type of psychotherapy used for treating anxiety disorders and phobias in patients, and was pioneered by Joseph Wolpe, a South African psychiatrist. This form of therapy sees a doctor cautiously exposing a patient to various stimuli that the patient initially fears. The theory is that the more desensitized a patient becomes to what was initially fearsome, the more he will be able to confront the source of anxiety and learn how to cope with his or her feelings.