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Ask an expert - neuro and psycho logical - phobias

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This is a difficult question to answer. Little or no research exists which could provide evidence in support of any recommendation. Such research as mentions noise phobia, or phonophobia as it is technically called, is usually in the context of treating migraine, where extreme sounds, smells and light can be a concomitant of an attack. There may well be studies from China, where research is conducted into anything and everything, but unfortunately very little of this is translated into English.
The key questions which a traditional acupuncturist would want to ask you would be the specific sorts of triggers which caused the greatest problem and the specific physical reactions you have to intrusive noise. The word 'appropriate' is heavily used in Chinese medicine, and many reactions which are extreme usually have a more benign and useful correlate. The 'startle' reflex to loud noises is an important one; without it we would all be at risk a great deal of the time. Where someone has no 'startle' reaction, or conversely a very extreme one, however, this may be a sign that the balance of the system has been compromised, and a practitioner may be able to make sense of what happens within the conceptual framework of Chinese medicine. Within Chinese medicine body mind and spirit are seen as inter-related, and so imbalances can manifest as physical, mental or emotional problems, and often a mixture of all three. If a part of the system is malfunctioning such that you have become noise phobic there is a very strong chances that ther will be other disturbances which might confirm a practitioner's suspicions.
There is no substitute in this case, however, for visiting a BAcC member local to you and seeking face to face advice on whether acupuncture may be beneficlal. If they feel it would not be there are certain to be other options they might recommend. We are aware of people using hypnotherapy conditions such as this, but there is a wide range of practitioners offering services in this feel, and a personal recommendation would be the best option if acupuncture might not be suitable. 

Q:  My husband is suffering terribly from a phobia called emetophobia (fear of vomiting) which has lead to panic attacks and depression. It is very difficult to watch someone suffering as he is and I was wondering if acupuncture would in any way help?



A:  Emetophobia is a very distressing condition and is often linked with a degree of agoraphobia as the sufferer avoids social situations where the possibility of vomiting in public makes them unwilling to take the risk.




Chinese medicine often uses the word 'appropriate' in discussing someone's reactions, especially emotional and mental, to their surroundings, and the theory of Chinese medicine associates many emotional states with physical symptoms. The practitioner will often fidn that an inappropriate fear or anger is often accompanied by an 'inappropriate' physical symptom like indigestion or headaches, and these conjointly point to specific areas of the system which need treating. Chinese medicine used to be governed by the simple principle that a system in balance does not generate symptoms, and the practitioner would simply seek to re-establish balance and expect symtpoms to dissipate. Modern Chinese acupuncture has a more 'physical symptom based' ethos, but is none the less effective for it.



Having said that, it is probable that someone with such a phobia would need some form of talking therapy like CBT(Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or even hypnotherapy, particularly that using NLP or based on Milton Erickson's work, alongside acupuncture treatment. Patterns like this can become very deeply ingrained, and although acupuncture can encourage the system to repair, a direct addressing of the problem at a conscious level may be useful as an adjunct or even as a first choice for conditions like this. 

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