Fear of birds, or ornithophobia, is more common than you may think. Whether it’s a fear of certain types of bird, such as large birds of prey, or a general discomfort when a bird or birds are in the vicinity, ornithophobia can be restricting. In the main, sufferers realise that their fears can be irrational, especially those who fear being attacked by birds, but all the same, the phobia is a real fear that causes undue anxiety and stress.
Like many animal phobias, ornithophobia is often brought on by a negative encounter or frightening experience early on in life. That could have been something like a seagull snatching at an ice cream or a bird accidently flying into the house and causing panic and nervousness.
Symptoms of ornithophobia will vary from sufferer to sufferer. Most people will be a little wary when eating or snacking in areas where there are a high number of birds, but for someone with ornithophobia feelings of anxiety, stress and nervousness set in. Some people may shake or tremble, sweat, feel nauseous or an overwhelming urge to escape. In severe cases these symptoms can be brought on be stuffed birds, such as those in a museum or old house, or even pictures of birds.
One of the problems is that birds are so prevalent. Whether it’s in the city or the countryside, there is little we can do to avoid the presence of birds, and while birds in the countryside are often timid and cautious, city pigeons can be brazen and foolhardy. It is this factor that can lead to ornithophobia having a greater impact on someone’s life. They may begin to avoid certain situations, such as picnics, or places, such as zoos and pet shops, and this can escalate to the point where ornithophobia transgresses into agoraphobia.
How can hypnotherapy help?
Fortunately, like many phobias, ornithophobia responds well to cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy during which your negative thoughts and triggers are replaced by positive ones. From there on you can begin to confront your fear, learning techniques that help you relax when feelings of anxiety start to rise. Gradual exposure to your fear, known as systematic desensitisation, while you are practising your relaxation techniques, will also help you conquer your fear of birds.
Darryl McCullagh Dip Hyp/ Cert HypB