Anyone who has taken the FastReset® First Level course knows there are two types of phobias: the traumatic and the metaphorical. In the traumatic type, the object triggering the phobic reaction is directly responsible for subsequent automatic protective reactions. In the metaphorical type, the phobic object preserves some characteristics of the original traumatic experience and/or these characteristics are attributed to the object in a symbolic or metaphorical way.
Treating the latter often requires more time, attention, and even intuition, but it’s still usually easy to manage, if the provider is aware of this indirect and symbolic aspect. In the case below, I treated a spider phobia that was fundamentally metaphorical. The spider was firmly bound to a childhood experience that has all the characteristics of trauma (unexpected, inescapable, and overwhelming/unmanageable), although it was not directly responsible for the protective reaction, at least initially.
After the treatment of each item, I asked the subject what was, at that moment, the worst or most disturbing residual aspect related to the phobia.
During a countryside holiday in the home of some friends, I met their daughter Gloria, a brilliant student. One day, she scared me with a scream of terror: “There’s a huge spider in the bathroom….help!” After the little beast was taken away, the girl, still shocked, shared with me that she was terrified of spiders. I asked her if she wanted to try a FastReset treatment to get rid of this phobia, or at least to lessen it.
Once I got her permission, I asked her to list the most disturbing characteristics of spiders, quantifying the magnitude of her discomfort.
The worst characteristics, which got a full “10”, were: their speed and unpredictability, their jumping out so unexpectedly, and the fact that they can sting. With just slighter intensity were their size and their “crunchy” texture.
The first reaction we worked on was her “losing my mind” at the very sight of a spider. This emotion is part of those who express block/shock/bewilderment, so we integrated it this way: «My losing my mind at the sight of the spider wants to protect me from a violent impact with a situation that I can’t handle», shift of attention, repetition of the phrase, new shift, release sentence, and shift to end.
After this round, the feeling of losing her mind at the sight of a big spider seemed a bit resized. What emerged in all its magnitude was the fear that there were still some spiders around the house: «My fear that there are other spiders wants me to escape their unexpected and uncontrollable behavior».
Once we completed this new round, she seemed a little better, but I thought it was time to go deeper, so I tried to find an old traumatic episode that could support Gloria’s overreactive phobic attitude.
The first episode she recalled, and that might have some relevance to our problem, is as follows: One night, at eight or ten years old, she got out of the bed for some reason and saw a crab on the ground, which had escaped from the aquarium. At that moment, it looked like a huge spider! We tried to treat it, but soon we realized it was a red herring: the subconscious, in fact, is very precise, and does not confuse a spider with a crab!
Then I asked Gloria what features of spiders were most disturbing now. The answer was very interesting: she was frightened of the spider’s evil temperament! We composed a sentence with her exact words and did a round of FastReset: “My fear of spiders’ evil and ugly temperament wants me to save myself by killing them!”.
What emerged then was that the worst thing about spiders, according to Gloria, were their legs. The feeling at the sight of their legs was, in fact, a sort of fear: “My fear of spider legs wants me to avoid being touched, invaded and hurt by them!”.
Once we completed this round, Gloria suddenly remembered an episode, dating back to when she was five years old. Because of a severe urinary infection, her mom had to take her at least a couple of times to the doctor to get medicated with painful injections and local applications of antibiotics. She lived the whole experience as a real violation, and recalled her dismay and anger at the unexpected pain caused by medical maneuvers. The man, of course, wore gloves and his fingers, on reflection, were in her mind associated with horrible spider legs!
What did the memory of those painful and unexpected appointments stir up in her mind?
Anger towards the doctor, and disappointment towards the mother, who took Gloria to him and, rather than comfort and support her, seemed more interested in giving attention to the doctor: «My anger for the pain that those nasty hands triggered in me wants me to protect myself and eliminate the danger», and soon afterwards: «My disappointment at the callous behavior of my mom wants me to take note of how things went, not waste my energies on the past, and learn from this experience to move forward».
At the end of these rounds, the emotions were completely processed and treated, and even the fear of spiders seemed to be diminished. “I cannot find them cute”, she admitted, “but I’ve greatly downsized them.
And, you know what? I just remembered that, in that same period, my favorite cartoon was Spiderman! Maybe that’s why I found it so easy to associate a man (the doctor) with a spider…”.
As if we had called it, a few hours later, another big spider appeared! But this time, with great coolness, Gloria picked it up with a sheet of paper and took it outside. “Before, maybe I would have thrown a slipper at it without getting too close; now, even if it’s not so pleasant, I could get close and notice its ‘crunchy’ texture. It seems your treatment has worked well!” And I think so too.