“So how long have you had this phobia of clowns?”

Julia Song had often thought about the answer to this question. For as long as she could remember the fear had always been there

“I’m not sure really. It just seems to have always been there since I was a little girl”

Her Therapist noted down her answer and carried on with his list of questions about how her phobia manifested itself, did anyone else in the family suffer from it or what had her parents said about it growing up

“That’s the thing every time I tried to speak about it my mother would either get really upset or angry. My father would just change the subject  and refuse to discuss it. Neither of them gave me any clues before they died”

Although Julia had always wanted to seek help about this it was having children of her own that had prompted it as she did not want to pass her irrational fear onto them

“Ok Julia I’d like you to close your eyes and think about travelling back along your timeline to when you were younger. I’d like you to get up above it and look down upon your life as you travel backwards in time, all the way back to the time when this fear started”

Julia let her unconscious mind to travel back over her life until she was looking down on herself in her bedroom as a little girl

“Ok Julia when you get back to the first memory associated with this fear let me know where you are and what’s happening please”  

“I’m in my bedroom but I’m scared. My Mummy and Daddy have gone out and the babysitter is in the living room watching television”

“And why are you scared Julia?”

“Because there’s been a small clown that keeps standing at the bottom of my bed at night who just stares at me. I keep screaming for my Mummy and Daddy to get rid of him but they keep telling me it’s just a bad dream but I know he’s real”

“You’re doing really well Julia. Now tell me what’s happening now please”

“I’m walking to the living room and I can hear the baby sitter speaking to one of my parents on the telephone. She’s saying she’s sorry to disturb them at their dinner party but she wants permission to cover the clown figure up in the corner of the room as it’s scaring her”

Her hands begin to grip the pillow that she’s placed on her lap for security

“And now the clown is coming towards her but she can’t see him as she has her back to him. I want to scream and warn her but I’m too scared”

“What are you feeling Julia?”

“Oh I really want to scream out that he’s coming but I just can’t and now he’s seen me and I’m feeling too terrified to move”

“Ok Julia keep going. Tell me what’s happening now”

“He’s just smiling at me and he’s put a finger up to his mouth to tell me to be quite. He’s shutting the door and I can hear the babysitter screaming……oh god……oh god…..”

Julia opens her eyes and jumps up from the couch sobbing. She wants to run away and hide in the cupboard just like she had done on that evening until the police had kicked down the door. She wants to hide until the gunshots have stopped and the clown has been taken away under a sheet. She wants to hide until her Mummy and Daddy come home

But she realises she can’t hide from the clown this time

He’s sitting in the chair where her therapist had just been

He has a finger up to his lips telling her to be quiet

And he’s smiling

Along Came A Spider

20170914_211808‘And how long have you been seeing your spider?’

‘It’s been with me ever since I was a little girl’

The client sitting opposite me was a forty five year old woman who answered every question in a quiet, little sing song voice without once making eye contact. I was seeing her in my role as a hypnotherapist as a favour to a friend who knew her mother. Knowing my interest in creature phobias they thought I might be able to help her

‘When was the last time you saw your spider?’

‘On the tube on the way here’

‘Did anyone else on the tube see it as well?’

‘Oh no they never do in circumstances like that’

I made notes as she answered my questions

‘When you see your spider is it in colour or black and white?’

‘It’s always in colour. Black with red bands around its legs when it’s happy, yellow bands when it’s not’

‘Is it often unhappy?’

‘Not often’

I carried in with the usual questions I asked my clients about how they experience their problems

‘When you see it is it near or far away?’

‘Normally I just see it out of the corner of my eye. I just see it as it hides behind something, is leaving the room or disappearing in a crowd’

She smiled and looked at me for the first time

‘The only time I ever see it fully is when it’s not happy’

‘And when you see it fully how big is your spider?’

‘Oh I’ve seen it cover a dinner plate once so it’s very big’

‘And would you like to get rid of your spider?’

‘No I would just like to stop it doing what it does when it’s not happy’

‘And what does it do when it’s not happy?’

She looked down at the floor and fell silent. After a long pause she began to answer

‘It makes people have accidents’

‘What sort of accidents does it make them have?’

‘Sometimes small ones, sometimes big ones’

She took a sip of water before she answered more fully

‘Once she made a girl who was bullying me at school freak out during our exams in the hall. She failed her A levels and never got into the university she wanted. Sometimes it makes people drop things or spill things. Sometimes it’s much more serious’

I paused waiting for her to give me more details

‘When my husband told me he was leaving me, I saw it climb into the back of his car as he drove off. He crashed on the motorway not long afterwards’

‘And what happened to him?’

‘Oh he died’

‘And you think your spider caused this accident?’

‘I don’t think, I know’

The tone in her voice had changed. She sounded more adult. More annoyed

‘You don’t believe my spider’s real do you?’

She held my gaze as she sat upright in the chair

‘You’re just like all the others aren’t you? All the other who think I’m just making it all up. All the others who think I’m mad’

I put down my pad and pen, took a drink of my water and paused my questioning

‘I’m sure your spider’s real for you and you believe that it’s making the things happen that you’ve described’

She sat back in a relaxed fashion smiling at me

‘Oh dear. Now you’ve made it unhappy and you know what happens when it’s unhappy don’t you?’

The certainty in the way she spoke to me caused me to sit bolt upright in my chair  

‘It’s in the room with us now isn’t it?’

She nodded slowly and pointed

I felt one of its legs brush against my neck as it walked onto my shoulder