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When Fear Takes Over

If you’ve traveled recently, you probably noticed that flights are more crowded than in the past. The International Air Transport Association estimates that worldwide there were about 3.6 billion air passengers in 2016. And the number of passengers is expected to continue to grow as the economies of the Far East and Middle East expand.

Dr. Dwight Damon, president of the National Guild of Hypnotists, says with so many more people flying, there has been a marked rise in the number of people seeking help to address air travel anxieties.

“Some studies suggest that as many as 40 percent of the population struggles with varying degrees of apprehension about air travel,” Damon says. “That fear of flying can leave people unable to travel for business, pleasure and family commitments.”

Damon adds that even people that can force themselves to fly can experience such significant levels of stress and anxiety that their performance at a business meeting or enjoyment of a vacation can be diminished.

“The fear of flying can be socially and professionally isolating,” explains Master Hypnotist Beverly Craddock, of Hawaii Hypnosis Center, in Honolulu. “The problem is even more significant in places like Hawai`i, where air travel is the only option for distance travel.”

Even beyond the actual flight, Damon says that other factors can increase flight anxiety. “The check-in process, TSA checkpoints, extra fees for luggage, and simply being among other stressed out travelers all contribute to a potential disaster if a traveler isn’t ready to manage his or her stress.”

Working with a hypnotist can help people see the travel experience in a completely new way. “We work to resolve the underlying anxiousness,” Beverly explains. “Hypnosis achieves a mental state where subconscious fears can be addressed in a calm, direct and fast manner so that many people are able to fly comfortably again.”

One recent hypnosis client wrote that despite more than two years of canceling work flights, he was able to comfortably take a trip to Mexico without any nervousness. Another client reported that after just two sessions, he was able to fly without medication or alcohol for the first time in 13 years.

“Hypnosis is not magic,” Beverly explains. “It isn’t a silver bullet that solves all problems. But it has shown good success with helping people change their fearful experiences. Obviously, we recommend that people work with their doctor to first rule out any physical issues. For people who have ‘tried everything’ and found no relief, hypnosis can be a real dose of hope and a useful change.”

As specialists of the subconscious mind, hypnotists focus on the way in which fears become established in all people. When something bad happens, the brain records the incident and then works to avoid similar experiences in the future.

“Trying to ignore a subconscious fear will sometimes result in the fear becoming stronger,” Beverly explains. “If the mind is truly trying to protect you from something, then ignoring the protective alarm will mean that the mind must increase the response to get your attention. It can be a vicious cycle of anxiousness, fear and discomfort.”

Beverly urges anyone with concerns about flying or any other regular activity to talk with their doctor about medical explanations for the problem. If nothing seems to be helping, she encourages people to contact a certified master hypnotist that has extensive experience in this type of work to discuss whether hypnosis is a viable option for them. “Most hypnotists will offer free consultations and make sure that all of your questions are answered,” she concludes.

Randy Hampton is a writer, social scientist, hypnotist and blogger living in Honolulu.

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