There are a whole range of therapies available, many useful for all kinds of problems and there will always be one especially appropriate. It is that one that a therapist will recommend they try first. And they hope it will work well enough that there is no need to try alternatives instead.
Exposure therapy is really common these days. Most people have heard of it, even if they don’t know the name. It’s what they use to get arachnophobics to pet tarantulas and people who hate heights to scale ladders to the roof. So it should work on any kind of phobia, that’s the theory. It should have worked on that phobia, on Jack’s phobia.
Chris started by showing him pictures, at first from right over at the far side of the room. That was as much as Jack could take. In time he could look at pictures closer to him and the first major breakthrough was when he held the picture in his hands. He hadn’t been able to look at anything like that for such a long time.
Then they started with the real thing, again first at a distance and moving closer and closer until Jack could finally hold one in his hand without shaking in fear and screaming for help. He hoped one day he’d be able to use one again and Chris encouraged him to think that day might not be too far away. They could start working on that the very next session.
Jack would probably be nervous all week, maybe a little scared, Chris said. It had been such a long time and he had lost years to the fear. Next time he might once again use it in the way it was supposed to be used. And Chris would help him. Chris would be there when it happened.
What a shame that Chris misunderstood Jack so badly. His fear was nothing like the hairy creep of a tarantula’s foot or the thirty foot drop from the roof to the floor. No, his fear wasn’t even the thing in the pictures. He wasn’t afraid of carving knives after his father had used one to chase him around the cellar as a child. That had been a clever ruse. He had no problem with knives at all.
Jack was afraid of therapists ever since his father had told him the darkness of the cellar would be good for him and he’d soon learn not to fear it. He used that technique on many of his clients he said, all those losers who paid him huge amounts of money for analysis and treatment.
Chris became Jack’s father and as Jack drove the knife into his chest again and again, he was no longer afraid.