illness, he became obsessed with fears of having "diseased organs."
He decided to study medicine as a means of overcoming his morbid
fears. Goethe's greatest work, Faust, tells of a man striving for
complete knowledge of life in all its forms. Faust is torn between the
devil, who provides him with many life experiences, and God.
Eventually, God saves Faust from the devil, partly because Faust
continually sought self-improvement in the hopes of becoming perfect.
There are no known dangers except the stress you might feel if
you proceed too rapidly. Of course, you should never do anything
dangerous in an effort to overcome a fear. We are talking only about
overcoming unreasonable fears, not realistic fears.
Watson, D. & Tharp, R. (1972). Self-directed behavior
Exposure to the fear (flooding)
There are two ideas involved. First is the idea that irrational fears
grow stronger whenever we run away from the scary-but-not-
dangerous situation. Second is the idea that we can change our
attitude from, "I can't stand the stress" to "I can stand it." Putting
these ideas together, the method is to gradually approach the
frightening situation with a strong determination to take all the fear it
The most thorough description of this method and its application is by Jeffers (1987).
To quickly deal with excessive fears and anxieties in any scary
situation that cannot hurt you.
STEP ONE: Arrange for plenty of time and a supportive friend, if
needed, to help you
You should have at least two hours, perhaps all day. Select a friend
who is sympathetic and encouraging, who can cheer you on and give
advice like a coach. Besides, if the fears should become extremely