Fear of Cotton Balls Phobia Sidonglobophobia

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Fear of Cotton Balls Phobia – Sidonglobophobia


This week in NYMAG.com talks about her fear of cotton balls (sidonglobophobia) and how exposure therapy maybe the answer to overcoming this fear


The article stats that over “19 million Americans” have a phobia. In my experience as a hypnotherapist is that most people suffer from anxieties rather then have an actual phobia – the person becomes highly anxious when confronted with their fear (often this is a spider/insect, animal, heights, being the center of attention) but can stay in that situation even though they feel uncomfortable


A phobic person, as the anxious person does, has an anxious reaction to a stimulus, but the reaction is so heightened that the fear makes them ‘flight’ or ‘freeze’ when confronted with the stimulus.


Crystal explains in the opening paragraph of her article how she become so fearful of opening a jar of pills “envisioned a fluffy white mound cushioned above 50 pills. I could hear the horrific sound the cottony orb made while being freed from the bottle” that her husband had to come to her rescue. This is a common negative side effect of a phobic.  The phobic will imagine that the stimulus they are phobic off in environments that they will never be in, often leading to new phobias through association. In this example you can imagine Crystal becoming fearful of plastic pill bottles, if she continues to associate a potential cotton ball in a pill bottle.



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The Power of a Phobia


A phobic stimulus is powerful, more powerful then a anxiety reaction, because the phobic will engage all senses into the imagination (and the brain doesn’t distinguish between what is real and what is imagined, as imagined and actual seen stimulus light up the same areas in the brain)


Crystal explains how she reinforces her phobia “Just thinking about what might be inside was causing a sick feeling in my stomach. Then, one by one, the intrusive memories spun in my head. I envisioned a fluffy white mound cushioned above 50 pills. I could hear the horrific sound the cottony orb made while being freed from the bottle. I remembered the unnerving sensation of touching one. Goose bumps erupted on my arms, and I cringed.”


This thought process uses many senses; “sick feeling” “envisioned a fluffy white mound” “i could hear the horrific sound” “I remembered the unnerving sensation” It this over use of the senses that reinforce the phobic reaction and which can create a new phobic reaction, through association to a non-threatening stimulus – which in this example could be a bottle of pills.


But, phobias can be deleted. New associations can be embedded and new reactions, calmness, can be created


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Changing Association 


There is now evidence that you can be predisposed to be more likely to gain a phobic reaction is your parents have a similar phobia. It is recorded in your DNA and to release it all you need is observational learning to act as a powerful trigger.


Crystal in the article explains “My older sister, who also has sidonglobophobia, often spoke of her aversion when I was a child. I knew about her fear before I reached into the bag that day; in all likelihood…”


Crystal explains the advice she recieved from psychologist Kevin Chapman, an expert in anxiety disorders. “Chapman said. A form of exposure therapy, he explained, CBT involves “confronting … the feared stimulus in a ‘graduated’ fashion while simultaneously countering thoughts that overestimate the likelihood of danger or catastrophe.”


Exposure therapy is well documented, and as with all therapist works better with some patients then others. The idea behind exposure therapy  is to exposure of the patient to the stimulus without any danger, in order to overcome their anxiety.


What you do here is create a disassociated perspective. Unlike Crystal who imagine the cotton balls as real, using all her senses, the imagined exposure (some therapist use the real stimulus)   is seen without the intensive emotional response.


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In the article Crsytal talks about the work of Paul Siegel, an associate professor of psychology at Purchase College, who has researched and treated phobias in his lab for the past 12 years. “Siegel is experimenting with a form of unconscious therapy called “very brief exposure” where people with phobias are repeatedly exposed to pictures of what they’re afraid of, but the pictures are virtually subliminal. Each image is presented for about three one-hundredths of a second, which is faster than most people who have phobias can recognize. They’ve only tested this treatment on the fear of spiders and social phobias, but the results have been promising.”


The subconscious mind records everything, even when the conscious mind isn’t aware of this. By showing a phobic a picture of a stimulus for such a short time that the conscious mind is unaware of the image, the subconscious starts to create a new path way and association between the state of relaxation and the stimulus.


Other therapy to overcome phobias; havening, CBT, Hypnotherapy, NLP work with the same principle even though the actual techniques vary. The patient is in a state of relaxation when they are asked to imagine the stimulus, creating a new association.


Crystal is still working on her phobic reaction and we wish her the best of luck.


Read the full article here:   Cotton Ball Phobia



Chris Delaney NLP Life Coach, Hypnotherapist and Career Advisor is available for booking for One to One Private Sessions, Group Training Sessions and Public Speaking Events


Chris Delaney is also a published author “The 73 Rules of Influencing the Interview – using Psychology, NLP and Hypnotic Persuasion Techniques” and his latest book “Evolve the Mind – the 7 rules to mind evolution” 

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Chris Delaney NLP Life Coach, Hypnotherapist and Career Advisor is available for booking for One to One Private Sessions, Group Training Sessions and Public Speaking Events



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