Monday, July 10, 2017

Hypnotherapy to Treat Mysophobia (Fear of Contamination)

(This blog was originally posted on May 16, 2017)

Photo by Rick Hustead

In a very interesting clinical case history at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, HMI founder John Kappas, Ph.D., worked with a woman who was afraid of death. The preliminary interview revealed that the client possessed 80-percent emotional suggestibility and 80 percent emotional sexuality. Her presenting “symptom” was a fear of germs, dirt and contamination (mysophobia), which manifested as a compulsion to constantly wash her hands and clothes. She revealed that her mother died of a tumor when the client was five.

To treat the client, Dr. Kappas gradually, systematically desensitized her to the fear of contamination and misdirect the impulse to “decontaminate” herself. The hypnotherapist helped to make the client aware of how her fear of germs began as a reaction to her mother’s tumor; however, he did not have her visualize this experience or her response. It is also important to reduce the stress that triggered her phobia and replace the compulsion to wash her hands and clothes with another behavior

“If mother is frightened for your health, she implants this fear mechanism in you,” Dr. Kappas explained. These fears still bother you as an adult because they’re part of your mental script, he said. “The goal is to modify the script, give you something positive to model and not affect you.”

To treat this phobia, the hypnotherapist elevated the client’s physical suggestibility by at least twenty percent and ascertained the status of her family dynamics/family system. He also needed to determine whether a secondary gain was associated with this phobia. Once she was in hypnosis, Dr. Kappas reassured the client that she was not to blame for other people becoming sick. He also made her aware that low blood-sugar levels could trigger phobias and suggested that she could control her tolerance for stress by changing her diet. “Don’t create a new neurosis and ensure that there’s no sugar-level drop that can cause depression,” he advised.

Dr. Kappas concluded the session by using circle therapy with a stop mechanism (double-bind) that enabled the client to control her fear reaction. “You want logic to control impulsive reactions,” he said. If the client seems to want to be “controlled by” something and abreacts to this suggestion, the hypnotherapist should use a paternal voice when giving the hypnotic suggestions, he added.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
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