Dec 25

For several years now, I have observed a significant rise in clients – especially male ones – who suffer from massive fears of having pedophilic tendencies. Even though these fears are often unfounded, they may cause intense symptoms like massive emotional pressure and suffering or even self-inflicted injuries. In diagnostic terms, however, what by far most of these persons were dealing with are in fact obsessive thoughts.

I have finally found some time to translate the respective article of mine, first published in 2008 in German language, to English. It is now online at .

(Image source:

Jan 13

Have you been scared lately? If your fears come back again and restrict your daily life, this could be a phobia, a specific form of anxiety disorders. The main symptom of a phobia is an intense and persistent fear of certain situations, activities, objects, animals or people – but usually this fear is irrational, and often there was no specific previous experience that could have triggered the phobia. Phobics often try to the utmost to avoid the fear-prone situations – often to such an extent that their fear begins to interfere with daily life and increasingly dominates their thinking.

A former client would feel uncomfortable in normal social situations such as parties or business meetings and tried to avoid them if possible. Also, the eating and drinking in public was a problem for him and led to great internal stresses. This special form of phobia is called ‘social phobia’, as it relates to other people or social situations. Performance anxiety (the fear of giving speeches or performing on a stage), is something that affects many people and also a form of social phobia.

The difficulty to get rid of phobias is that rational explanations and efforts of relatives and friends almost never help, but sometimes even increase the internal pressure. Also, ‘exposure therapy’, which is a popular for TV shows on the topic -, showed only limited long term success for most people. Good success, however, can be achieved with modern psychotherapeutic approaches, like methods of hypnotherapy and solution-oriented counseling. In severe cases of phobia, medication can help get started in therapy and counseling. Thereafter, continuous work on the problem is crucial to avoid falling back into the old patterns of fear.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011)

Jun 04

If everything goes well for Paul, he enjoys his life. But then there are the times when anxiety robs his sleep and even during the day he suffers from the fear of being seriously ill. A headache could be an indication of a brain tumor; swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, or a birthmark could be a reference to cancer; the memory of a particular sexual adventure raises fear of having been infected with HIV.

Paul spends lots of time every day examining his body for suspicious signs and to gather information about possible symptoms. The Internet turns out to be a diabolical companion: vast amounts of information are openly available, but sometimes their reliability is doubtful, or certain contradictions turn up. Doctor visits also provide only temporary relief: couldn’t the doctor have been wrong or missed something?

Often people burdened by fears like Paul’s are intelligent, physically fit and live a very healthy lives. Their fears severely constrict the extent to which they can enjoy their lives. Short spells of relief are inevitably followed by the next phase of panic-like feelings of worry.

When suffering from such fears there is no need to be ashamed. This form of anxiety has causes that are not the affected persons’ fault and can be treated with strategies applied during psychotherapy or hypnotherapy – provided that there is a readiness to attend regular counselling sessions for a certain period. During the treatment new ways of dealing with these chronic concerns will be developed, relieving the heart from the heavy cloak of fear.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2010)