Overcome your fears by facing them.

Posted on August 28, 2018

One of the ways to treat anxiety disorders is to force one to face their fears by exposing them to a highly unpleasant stimulus. Exposure is useful when it is being done subconsciously: Images containing one’s specific fears are flashed too quickly for one to be conscious of them. Such exposure results in one being less afraid than before.

However, researchers have come up with a less unpleasant way to reduce fear. This new form of exposure is based on presenting the unpleasant stimuli briefly for no longer than 0.033 seconds, just long enough to be processed only by the subconscious mind. Instantly after, there will be a masking stimulus activated to block off and prevent the conscious region of our brain from processing the image. Hence, the unconscious part of the brain ‘sees’ the stimulus without consciously knowing about it.

This form of exposure is generated based on the realization of how avoiding phobias or any frightening experiences seemed to cause such experiences to reoccur. One example would be how people who suffered from sexual abuse during their childhood days have no difficulty forgetting about the traumatic experience, but for unexplainable reasons are attracted to abusive individuals.

Everyone hopes to overcome their fears one day. There is a possibility that people subconsciously hope to be able to face their fears. If such is true, it would result in a gratifying experience rather than a horrifying one. People who are subconsciously exposed to their fears consistently were more willing and able to face their fears as compared to people who are consciously presented with them.

People with phobias tend to be apprehensive towards seeking treatment as they do not want to face their fears upfront. With this new form of exposure, it would drastically lower their emotional anxiety and allow them to feel more comfortable undergoing treatment.

Category(s):Fear, Health Psychology, Phobias

Source material from Psychology Today

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