Monday, September 23, 2013

Bad Idea of the Day: Researchers Trying to Reduce Individual's Phobias With Treatment While They Sleep

(BBC) US researchers suggest smells could be used to calm fears - while people sleep. People were trained to associate two images, linked to smells, with fear. During sleep they were exposed to one of those smells - and when they woke they were less frightened of the image linked to that smell.

A UK expert praised the Nature Neuroscience study and said it could help treat phobias and perhaps even post-traumatic stress disorders.

People with phobias are already commonly treated with "gradual exposure" therapy while they are awake, where they are exposed to the thing they are frightened of in incremental degrees.
This study suggests that the theory could be extended to therapy while they are in slow-wave, or deep, sleep

Now, I'm just a simple country blogger, not one of these fancy scientists with "hypotheses" or "ideas". Maybe making people smell fear while they sleep will help reduce their fears when they're awake. Who knows? Not me. But, uh, did anyone think that maybe exposing people to scary smells could lead to the worst nightmares imaginable?

Let's use me for an example. I'm afraid of caterpillars/centipedes. I don't know why, and yes I know it's a stupid thing to be afraid of. (Side note: I love when someone tries to tell me that I shouldn't be afraid of something. You're totally right! It never occurred to me that this was a completely irrational fear. If only I knew that I shouldn't be afraid of it sooner! Thank you for curing my phobia.) My phobia doesn't play any role in my day to day life; my crazy is under control. I live in a city where rats eat all of the bugs so I've got that going for me.

But in my dreams? My dreams are an all out battleground.  And your suggestion to fixing my awake fears, which I have under control, are to introduce more fear into my dreams? Pass.

-Joe Turner (@Joe_Turner00)

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