I have dealt with a multitude of different phobias over my life so far, and they can really become annoying after awhile once they begin to hinder your daily life. The biggest of these phobias would probably be my fear of heights, which can actually become quite comical sometimes when looking at some of the ridiculous things I avoid because of them (i.e. an open staircase no more than thirty feet high that I have to climb every year to get to my seat at the Daytona 500). However, being a business major and realizing that I could very well find myself in a job in several years located atop one of the many skyscrapers of this world, I now have a new sense of urgency to get rid of my phobia completely.
I was very interested in what Professor Gewirtz had to say about these new methods of using exposure therapy to get rid of these phobias. However, through my many experiences of trying (I use the term "trying" very loosely) to get rid of this phobia, I was a bit skeptical that mere exposure could get rid of this. Then I came across this article which described a new finding that taking a pill of the stress hormone cortisol could help get rid of these phobias when taken during exposure therapy. According to the article, this hormone plays a key role in the body's "fight or flight" response used in fear-provoking situations, and actually opens up and "reprograms" the brain to stop coupling the fear response with the fear provoking stimulus. In the research study described in the article, half of the participants (all of which suffered from acrophobia) were given cortisol while the other half were given a placebo, and the portion that receive the hormone experienced significantly less anxiety levels during further exposure therapy sessions than those that were given the placebo. So while this research is very promising for people wishing to get rid of a fear without truly having to confront it, I still believe that "facing your fears" in really life will still be the best way to get rid of these phobias.