Hypnosis and Claustrophobia


Claustrophobia is usually defined as the irrational fear of confined spaces. It can be rational to fear being trapped when circumstances carry genuine threat. However, in claustrophobia, people experience fear even when there is no obvious or realistic danger in a particular situation.

People who experience claustrophobia generally go out of their way to avoid a long list of confined spaces, including lifts, tunnels, tube trains, revolving doors, public toilets, MRI scanners, and even don’t like to wear crash helmets. Unfortunately, avoidance may reinforce the fear.

Claustrophobia may arise from a one-off trauma at any age, developed when the person was a child (for example growing up with one or more claustrophobic parents) or emerge as someone gets older. Around 10% of the population may experience claustrophobia during their lifetime.

Simple Self Diagnosis

If you can answer YES to most of the questions it is likely that you are affected by claustrophobia.

During the past 6 months, did any of the following make you feel anxious:

  • Being in a confined space such as being in a tunnel, on the underground etc.?
  • Being in crowded places?
  • Did you avoid being in any of the above situations?

Physical Symptoms

Panic attacks are common among people with claustrophobia. They can be very frightening and distressing and symptoms often occur without warning.
As well as overwhelming feelings of anxiety, a panic attack can also cause:

  • sweating
  • trembling
  • hot flushes or chills
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • a choking sensation
  • rapid heartbeat
  • chest pain or a feeling of tightness in the chest
  • a sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • nausea
  • headaches and dizziness
  • feeling faint
  • numbness or pins and needles
  • dry mouth
  • a need to go to the toilet
  • ringing in your ears
  • feeling confused or disorientated

Psychological Symptoms
People with severe claustrophobia may also experience psychological symptoms such as:

  • fear of losing control
  • fear of fainting
  • feelings of dread
  • fear of dying

For many people, the aspect of embarrassment over their phobia is as debilitating as the the phobic condition itself. Some sufferers recognise that their fears are overblown and irrational, but cannot seem to stay in control. The reason for this is because phobias are rooted deep within the unconscious, which no amount of conscious effort can be fully effective in controlling. This makes treating phobias particularly challenging.

Claustrophobia is usually treated with anti-anxiety drugs or counseling. Hypnotherapy is an ideal, safe and non-invasive form of therapy with no harmful side effects. It works by pinpointing the root causes of fear in the unconscious to rapidly cure a phobia. In particular, a program that utilises Ericksonian hypnotherapy techniques and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) can be used to cure a phobia. This uses numerous hypnotic techniques to help people beat their fears.

The initial step in curing a phobia is helping the sufferer feel relaxed and anxiety-free. Hypnotherapy has long been used as a form of stress-reducing therapy, to help people clear their minds and focus deeply.

Conventional hypnosis techniques have used direct, post-hypnotic suggestions to help cure phobias. The disadvantage of the direct approach is that the mind tends to reject being merely “told” how to behave. Many people put up mental blocks and ignore suggestions. In today’s society, both children and adults are especially likely to ignore direct suggestions since we are mostly independent people who question authority.

Deep relaxation is the essence of the hypnotic state. Once in the relaxed state, instead of using direct post-hypnotic suggestions, a better approach known as systematic desensitisation can help extinguish a phobia through visual imagery.

Ericksonian hypnotherapy uses a more innovative approach than conventional techniques. It utilises indirect suggestions concealed in captivating stories and metaphors to interest the unconscious and convince it to adopt a desirable, phobia-free line of thinking. Due to the fact that indirect suggestions don’t need to be adapted to a single phobia like direct suggestions do, a single good Ericksonian hypnotherapy program will work to beat any phobia or even multiple phobias.

NLP, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, is an innovative form of therapy that many well trained hypnotherapists have begun to use. The best NLP technique for overcoming a phobia is called the Visual – Kinesthetic Disassociation, also referred to as the V/K. The V/K is recognised as the single session phobia cure, and for good reason. Phobic or panic reactions (attacks) occur because traumatic experiences are attached to and aggravated by mental images. With the V/K, the traumatic experiences are disconnected from the mental images – often in one simple session, and the fear is essentially extinguished.

Those fighting with claustrophobia can find relief with hypnotherapy. The combination of Ericksonian hypnosis therapy with NLP techniques will help all people beat their phobias. Hypnosis therapy has helped countless users feel safe and secure in situations where earlier, they would’ve suffered a breakdown. Hypnosis techniques have provided phenomenal benefits for people afflicted with phobias and continue to improve lives each and every day.

Study 1: Hypnosis and Claustrophobia in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs)

Hypnosis for management of claustrophobia in magnetic resonance imaging (Study developed at Hospital e Maternidade São Camilo Pompeia, São Paulo, SP, Brazil)
http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-39842010000100007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en

Results: Out of the sample, 18 (90%) patients were susceptible to the technique. Of the 16 hypnotizable subjects who were submitted to magnetic resonance imaging, 15 (93.8%) could complete the examination under hypnotic trance, with no sign of claustrophobia and without need of sedative drugs.

Conclusion: Hypnosis is an alternative to anesthetic sedation for claustrophobic patients who must undergo magnetic resonance imaging.

Notes: The objective was to evaluate the efficacy of hypnosis for management of claustrophobia in patients submitted to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Twenty claustrophobic patients referred for magnetic resonance imaging under sedation were submitted to hypnosis The patients susceptible to hypnosis were submitted to magnetic resonance imaging under hypnotic trance without using sedative drugs.

After hypnotic induction, the patients underwent ideosensory activities, with induction of vivid, pleasant visual and kinesthetic sensations (walk through a relaxing, safe and welcoming landscape) associated with a sensation of peace, tranquility and safety. After the establishment of the hypnogenic signal, the patients were dehypnotized for assessment of the depth and efficacy of the induced hypnotic trance. Subsequently, hypnosis was induced again, this time by means of the hypnogenic signal. In this second procedure (double induction technique), the patients were introduced to the different phases of the MRI examination which are resignified and associated with the relaxing sensation achieved in the previous ideosensory activity. On the occasion of the procedure, the patient was hypnotized with utilization of the hypnogenic signal in a preparation room, and taken on a wheelchair to the MRI equipment, being dehypnotized once the procedure was completed.

Radiologia Brasileira, Vol. 43, No. 1, São Paulo Jan./Feb. 2010
By: Luiz Guilherme Carneiro Velloso (Maternidade São Camilo Pompeia, São Paulo, SP, Brazil); Maria de Lourdes DupratII (Psychologist, Group of Medical Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy of Hospital e Maternidade São Camilo Pompeia, São Paulo, SP, Brazil); Ricardo Martins (Biomedical Scientist, Unit of Imaging Diagnosis – Hospital e Maternidade São Camilo Pompeia, São Paulo, SP, Brazil); Luiz Scoppetta (MD, Radiologist, Unit of Imaging Diagnosis – Hospital e Maternidade São Camilo Pompeia, São Paulo, SP, Brazil)

Study 2: More Hypnosis for MRI Procedures
Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Improved Patient Tolerance Utilizing Medical Hypnosis
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2270840

Results: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a medical procedure where patients are required to lie on their backs in a tight cylinder (with only a few inches of space between their face and the top of the chamber) for up to an hour. Between one and ten percent of patients experience feelings of panic and other claustrophobic reactions. Many are unable to complete the procedure. This study reports on how hypnosis was used to help ten claustrophobic patients successfully undergo this procedure.

Am J Clin Hypn. 1990 Oct;33(2):80-4
By: P. J. Friday, W. S. Kubal , Shadyside Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Study 3: More Hypnosis for MRI Procedures
Hypnosis Using a Communication Device to Increase Magnetic Resonance Imaging Tolerance with a Claustrophobic Patient.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9922650

The paper reports on the case of a woman who was unable to have an MRI because she was claustrophobic and panicked in such confined environments. She was then hypnotized twice and given post-hypnotic suggestions to increase her sense of comfort and relaxation and gain control over her body’s responses. She was then hypnotized through headphones when she entered the MRI unit where she was able to complete the procedure. This patient was successfully able to cope with this procedure and reported great satisfaction with treatment.

Mil Med. 1999 Jan;164(1):71-2
By: E. P. Simon, Clinical Psychology Department, Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, HI 96859, USA

What’s the Deal With Hypnotherapy?


Lets face it, none of us are perfect and being brutally honest, no one is. Just like me, I am sure that there are things you know you could change, small tweaks that might make your life more satisfying, more rewarding and fulfilling.

Perhaps changing a bad habit for a useful new one, overcoming a long-standing phobia, or maybe finding the right motivators to change what you eat so that you can lose that excess fat and keep it off.

We all have something we’d like to change or improve, but how do you do it? How can you break what might be the habit of a lifetime, or find the strength to resist temptation?
And even more importantly, how do you make sure your new habit/behaviour sticks?

If you’ve ever tried to do it on your own, you’ll know it’s no easy feat and as difficult as it seems, it’s not impossible, especially when you get the right kind of help.

What Is Hypnotherapy?
Look at the word “hypnotherapy” and you’ll see it’s actually a combination of two words.
Hypnosis – and therapy.In a nutshell it’s a complementary therapy that utilities the power of hypnosis by instilling positive suggestions into your unconscious mind.

With the right suggestions, it’s possible to alter:
The way you think
The way you feel
The way you behave

And this is why hypnotherapy is such a potent tool for change, because when you can change your thoughts, your feelings, and your behaviours – you can move mountains, you can overcome any obstacle that blocks your way, because it enables you to tackle things that you once thought impossible. Plus, when used by a well trained, certified professional, hypnotherapy can help with every one of the following:
Addictions
Childbirth
Obsessions
Compulsions
Anger management
Depression
Eating disorders
Confidence building
Self-esteem boosting
Anxiety relief
Exam nerves
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Fears and phobias
Pain management
Sexual issues
Relaxation
Stuttering
Tinnitus
Sleep disorders
Stress reduction
Weight loss

Now that’s quite a list, so the next question is, how can it be so effective? How can it deal with ALL of those things? The answer is simple.

Hypnotherapy gets to the bottom of whatever the issue is. It bypasses your critical conscious mind and connects you with your unconscious. It changes your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours from the inside out. This means it tackles the root cause of the problem, not just the symptoms, and deals with it. And to top it off, it often does that better than almost any other form of therapy.

Hypnotherapy Comes Out On Top

Dr. Alfred A. Barrios conducted a survey of psychotherapy literature. He discovered that:
93% of clients recover after 6 sessions of hypnotherapy
72% of clients recover after 22 sessions of behavioural therapy
38% of clients recover after 600 sessions of psychoanalysis

That blew my mind when I first read that, it’s quite amazing. Not only does hypnotherapy work faster – 6 sessions compared to 22 or more – but it works for a larger percentage of people.

It’s four times faster than behavioural therapy and a massive 100 times faster than psychoanalysis.

That might explain why the practice has been certified worldwide as an alternative way to manage so many conditions:
In 1996, the Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association introduced a peer-group accreditation system for professional Australian hypnotherapists.
In the UK, the Department for Education and Skills developed National Occupational Standards for hypnotherapy in 2002.
In the USA, hypnotherapy regulation and certification is carried out by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners (A.C.H.E.). The first state-licensed hypnotherapy center was the Hypnotism Training Institute of Los Angeles, licensed way back in 1976.

So hypnotherapy is not just useful. It’s recognised worldwide as a bona fide treatment method for tackling issues in many areas of your life, including:

Mental and emotional health
Physical well-being
Spiritual development
Creativity
Motivation
Business concerns
Goal achievement
And lots more besides.

Now I’m pretty sure you’re wondering, “wait a minute, there other ways to deal with this stuff aren’t there? What about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, psychoanalysis & NLP?
the people who provide these services need to be qualified and certified too don’t they?
So how come they aren’t as effective as hypnotherapy?

To answer this question, you need to look at how the other three work.

Hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychoanalysis & NLP
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) is used to change the way you think and behave, it helps you deal with your problems in a more positive light. It’s commonly used to treat anxiety and depression by giving you practical ways to deal with life on a daily basis. The idea is to break down larger issues into smaller parts so they’re easier to cope with.
This enables you to manage them one at a time and gradually improve the way you feel.
It doesn’t remove the problems, but it gives you valid coping mechanisms so you can learn to manage them more easily.

Psychoanalysis is also widely used to treat anxiety and depression, but with a different approach.
Psychoanalysis was developed by Sigmund Freud and the principle behind psychoanalysis is uncovering repressed emotions and experiences. So while CBT deals with problems in the present, the here and now, psychoanalysis delves into your past and in many cases, your childhood. It attempts to try to find the reasons why you feel anxious or depressed and by letting those repressed emotions come to the surface you can confront them and finally put them to rest.

NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
Neuro refers to your nervous system, the link between your brain and body.
Linguistic refers to the language you use.
Programming refers to learned behaviours and the way you respond to stimuli.
So NLP aims to change your behaviour (your programming) by altering the way your brain responds to what’s going on around you. It uses techniques like anchors and disassociation to achieve this. NLP is particularly useful for breaking habits and overcoming fears, which is great. What’s interesting though, is this, NLP often combines its techniques with hypnosis and self-hypnosis.

CBT has been proven more effective when used in conjunction with hypnotherapy. Even psychoanalysis works better when you’re under hypnosis, because you’re more in touch with your unconscious mind.
Your unconscious mind is where all those memories and conflicts are stored and it seems that no matter which therapy is employed, the end result is the same. When you add a bit of hypnotherapy, you hugely increase your chances of success.

So Why Choose Hypnotherapy?
Let’s be honest here, when it comes to therapy, there are so many choices available today and Hypnotherapy is just one of the options. So why should you choose Hypnotherapy above any other treatment form?

There are at least three very good reasons:
It’s faster than other forms of therapy
It addresses more issues than other forms of therapy
It gets right to the heart of the problem and deals with it directly

During a hypnotherapy session, the therapist starts by talking to you and asking you questions in order to find out what the problem is. This allows them to learn about you and your life and this helps them decide the best way to help you overcome whatever issue you’re having. Once they know that, they’ll move on to hypnosis where they will lead you into a mild trance where your critical conscious mind can just switch off. This is basically a state of heightened awareness where you can access your unconscious and make deep-seated and lasting changes.

When you can do that, the possibilities are endless.
You can:
Find solutions to long-standing problems
Wipe away old limiting beliefs
Turn negative thoughts into positive ones
Develop new and healthier habits
Set realistic and achievable goals
Take active control of your health, your career, your relationships, and your life in general

And like the other therapies mentioned above, it works for anxiety and depression too. In fact, if you can think of a problem or an issue, hypnotherapy can probably help.
It can help you make better decisions
Get increased concentration
Unleash your imagination
Feel more relaxed, and more at peace with yourself
Wipe away stress
Feel healthier in mind and body
Boost your self-belief
Sleep better and function at your peak more often
Find the stability that will allow you to truly live your life, rather than just going through the motions

Because even though nobody’s perfect, there’s nothing wrong with striving for excellence by making one small change at a time through the power of hypnosis.