There are an estimated four million phobics in Britain, so if you suffer from a phobia it may be a little consolation to know that you are not alone!
There are many that are unaware that help can be at hand to overcome phobias, others who use avoidance techniques, i.e. “I will not walk under ladders or climb high mountains etc.” That is easy enough as their lives are hardly affected if they never climb a mountain.
However, there are some things in life which we cannot avoid and the most inevitable is death at the end of our lives. Now there is no avoiding this obviously, so most people will get on with their lives enjoying every moment without daily worrying about their demise. However, for some, the fear of death can become an all-embracing phobia which is called Necrophobia. They may start off by becoming anxious over a small illness which they may have heard someone near to them had died of during this illness.
One such client of mine, who I will call Peter, was convinced that if he contracted pneumonia as his brother did, that he would die. He would not accept that his brother actually died from a heart attack. In other words, Peter developed an irrational fear of pneumonia despite the medical professional’s ability to overcome pneumonia with great success. Peter admitted that pain and illness did not bother him and he was not a hypochondriac but the fear of dying was so persistent in his mind that he became phobic and believed that every illness could cause death even though he was a healthy man.
Obviously, death is very personal to each and every one of us and no-one can say how we will cope other than religious who know they will hopefully be going to a better life and therefore can prepare and embrace their last moments with a serenity. I recall the late Cardinal Hume just before he died, being comforted by a fellow prelate who said, “I wish I was going where you are going!” Apparently, John Paul II was likewise prepared to accept his end. Therefore, holy men and women can pray and alleviate anxieties, but Peter underwent Hypnotherapy for some time until his subconscious mind became aware that the majority of illnesses do not kill us. We then rationalised how each day can be lived happily by leading a busy life. Planning ahead in his career and social life made him so positive that he absolutely knew, and his subconscious mind was convinced that he was happy and positive and healthy, so there was no question of predicting his death.
When Peter realised how many years of needless anxiety he had endured, he was more motivated than ever before, to be thankful each day and look forward to a busy healthy future of happiness and serenity without worrying when it would end.
I still see Peter occasionally in town and he is now a sprightly 81 year- old enjoying every day.