ASK THE EX­PERTS

Ad­vice on self-de­vel­op­ment, oral health, nu­tri­tion and ed­u­ca­tion

Friday - - Beauty -

AN AC­CI­DENT HAS LEFT MY SIS­TER SCARED

Q A few years ago my sis­ter spilled boil­ing wa­ter on her­self ac­ci­den­tally, se­verely burn­ing her thighs. Since then she is pet­ri­fied of us­ing a ket­tle or go­ing near boil­ing wa­ter. My fam­ily has tried our best to help her, to no avail.

AAt the point of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a phys­i­cal trauma, the brain ac­ti­vates its fear re­sponse as a mech­a­nism to try and get us away from the threat. This chain re­ac­tion starts with the fear stim­u­lus, in her case the boil­ing wa­ter, and ends with the fight-or­flight re­sponse. More of­ten than not it’s flight that wins the day.

What has hap­pened in your sis­ter’s case is that the re­sponse keeps re­play­ing. So ev­ery time she en­coun­ters a sit­u­a­tion in­volv­ing boil­ing wa­ter, her au­to­matic re­sponses kick in to run away. In sim­ple terms, her fear re­ac­tion has DR JOY ANTONY gone into over­drive. At the mo­ment, she’s work­ing on in­stinct, but she can learn to take con­trol through a num­ber of strate­gies.

You’re clearly a sup­port­ive fam­ily; I rec­om­mend you gen­tly sug­gest to her that she seek out some talk­ing ther­apy to help her ex­plore and come to terms with what’s hap­pened.

Phys­i­cal scars are of­ten more ap­par­ent and that can help us to start deal­ing with them, but men­tal ones can end up be­ing buried deep in the sub­con­scious and have an im­pact on our be­hav­iour for years if left un­ex­am­ined.

Talk­ing through her feel­ings as­so­ci­ated with the ac­ci­dent will al­most cer­tainly help her to heal those hid­den scars.

To deal with that un­con­trol­lable anx­i­ety she feels when she comes into close prox­im­ity of boil­ing wa­ter, cog­ni­tive be­havioural hyp­nother­apy is one of the most ef­fec­tive meth­ods I know. Through this ap­proach, your sis­ter will learn to climb the ‘fear lad­der’ one step at a time. This means she will be sen­si­tively guided through a se­ries of small steps, which cu­mu­la­tively build up her tol­er­ance to the ob­ject of her fear. For ex­am­ple, she might start by look­ing at a pic­ture of a ket­tle and then be helped to bring her feel­ings of fear un­der con­trol.

Equally as im­por­tant, she will also be taught a range of re­lax­ation tech­niques to re­gain con­trol of her fear when she feels the panic rise. Deep breath­ing, self-hyp­no­sis and mus­cle re­lax­ation can all help.

Fi­nally, she will learn how to chal­lenge those neg­a­tive thought loops that keep her stuck in the same pat­terns of be­hav­iour. This means she will learn to ask her­self a se­ries of key ques­tions when those thoughts push their way to the fore­front of her mind. In turn, this helps to un­der­mine the pow­er­ful hold they have on her.

Fear can cause a per­son to live in a catch-22 state of paral­y­sis. In or­der to over­come it, it needs to be chal­lenged, but we are of­ten too scared to do that. With your sup­port and some pro­fes­sional guid­ance, I’m sure she’ll be able to break those chains.

60 is a lead­ing or­tho­don­tist in Dubai

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.