Who’s Afraid of Butterflies – Phobias and Fear Responses


Fear is a natural and healthy response we all have to danger. It’s a survival instinct designed to help us avoid and escape threatening situations.

Phobias, however, are different. To start with, phobias are more intense than fears – they can lead to severe anxiety and panic attacks for some people.

To be fearful of a huge polar bear is rational, to be fearful of a butterfly is not. But to those who suffer from a phobia, the fear experienced is very real indeed and is almost impossible to overcome without professional help.

Movie star Nicole Kidman reportedly has a fear of butterflies.  This well known actress developed the terrifying phobia when she was a child in Australia. She reveals,

“Sometimes when I would come home from school the biggest butterfly or moth you’d ever seen would be just sitting on our front gate. I would climb over the fence, crawl around to the side of the house – anything to avoid having to go through the front gate”.


Phobias develop when someone has an exaggerated or unrealistic fear surrounding a certain situation or object. If this situation or object is common in day-to-day life, the phobia can restrict a person’s life, holding them back from doing what they want to do and causing a lot of distress.

The word ‘phobia’ originates from the ancient Greek god of fear – ‘Phobos’. There are countless definitions of phobia, the most apt defining it as a ‘fear of fear’. Perhaps, more accurately a phobia can be described as ‘an extreme reaction to fear triggered by a stimulus’.


Fear of heights ladder

Fear of water








More than 10% of the population have a phobia of some sort, and there are more than 300 types. Here are the most common:

  • fear of heights (acrophobia)
  • fear of the outdoors or open spaces (agoraphobia)
  • fear of closed or confined spaces (claustrophobia)
  • fear of spiders (arachnophobia)
  • fear of dogs (cynophobia)
  • fear of cats (ailurophobia)
  • fear of birds (ornithophobia)
  • fear of wasps (spheksophobia)
  • fear of crowds (ochlophobia)
  • fear of flying (aerophobia)
  • fear of needles (belonephobia)
  • fear of snakes (ophidiophobia)
  • fear of strangers (xenophobia)
  • fear of water (hydrophobia)
  • fear of vomiting (emetophobia)
  • and fear of butterflies (lepidopterophobia)




Phobias are often learnt through ‘one-trial-learning’, which simply means that it takes only one experience of something to make us phobic. For example, as a child, you may have seen your mother extremely frightened at the sight of a spider. One experience of this could be enough to make you also phobic of spiders or anything else that your unconscious has associated with that memory.


Relaxation couch


People used to spend years in psychotherapy (and many still do!) trying to overcome their phobias.  In Solution Focused Hypnotherapy we use a technique called ‘Rewind’ which is  derived from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Now most phobias can be resolved in a few sessions using this technique.

Using the Rewind Technique means that we no longer have to waste hours trawling through your past looking for reasons as to why you have the phobia; it is not necessary to find the imprinting event because the brain always updates the memories with the most recent occurrence of the phobic reaction.



In Solution Focused Hypnotherapy when treating phobias and fear responses, the important ingredient for effective therapy is calmness.

In hypnosis, you will experience deep relaxation, and, in this state, your unconscious mind is more able to re-evaluate all stress, panic and phobic reactions with the realisation that the fear is unwarranted.

In effect, the pattern-matching that causes the inappropriate activation of the fight or flight response is turned off, removing and uncoupling the emotion from the situation. Meaning that you no longer react by panicking or having those fearful thoughts.

Using this technique in a deeply relaxed state enables you to re-programme neural pathways in the brain so that the amygdala no longer responds by causing panic. Enabling you to live your life to the full.

Chasing butterflies

When you book an Initial Consultation, I provide a full explanation on how hypnotherapy works and how it may help you.

Email: info@carolineevanshypnotherapy.co.uk

Tel: 07765 692 072