Fix your phobia

| 8 June , 2009 | Reply

Guest editor

Guest Editor, Amanda Cole Author of I Hate Cinderella

Anthony Gunn\’s compassionate approach exudes out of his book “Fix Your Phobia in 90 Minutes” from the moment you open it up. This little treasure is a book borne from years of experience fixing his own phobias and now is one of those books you can imagine keeping in your handbag with your rescue remedy drops. It is simple and brilliant and as a book designed to help you solve your fears, what more do you need?

If you have ever has a fear that has either held you back or stopped you from doing something, reading his book and following his advice may help you as it has helped many others. As more and more women and men suffer from stress related issues and panic attacks, Anthony Gunn\’s approach is simple and achievable.

He explains the user friendly steps to conquering a fear and for me the most important part was his suggestion of finding a “phobia friend”. This person needs to be someone who cares enough to help you overcome your fear and are okay to help “surf” the panic as you go through the steps.


After interviewing Anthony, he said that there are so many phobias these days and many sufferers, and this goes to show us how important it is to get it sorted out some it doesn\’t hold you back from your life and plans.

Fix Your Phobia in 90 Minutes” gives real examples of phobias (so we don\’t feel as alone) and also examples of treatment Do\’s (gradual expose with your Phobia Friend) and Don\’ts (don\’t rush into it without learning the breathing techniques and psychology behind it).

The book follows a series of other self improvement books by Gunn that offer a lot of wonderful and easily digestible advice, full of understanding and compassion and solutions to those who are held back by a fear.

He tells us that there are three main types of phobias and that some phobias are in place for a good reason (like heights and our aversion to spiders), but when they start to hinder your normal life, it is a good idea to address this.

The best thing about this book is the support (you feel like you have a “Pit crew”) with the breathing exercises and online files to compliment your “change” and help you get even more out of this experience.

I had a chat with the very compassionate and understanding Anthony who makes you want to tell him your fears just so he can solve it; but again I was there to interview him not to solve my fear of pirates!


What inspired you to write “How to Fix Your Phobia in 90 Minutes”?

I had been hospitalised while in Honduras for difficulty in breathing and a consequent collapsed lung and after multiple surgeries and traumatic care, (they kept gabbing at him with needles as he showed no emotion- which was a cultural misunderstanding as Honduran men commonly cry). I was transferred back to Australia, and I realised I had a debilitating fear of medical procedures, ultimately this fear was the inspiration to fix it the write a book with the solution I had learnt.

Were you studying psychology at Uni when your hospitalisation happened?

At that stage of my life I had no interest in Psychology or phobias. I was actually planning on being an

electrician and was 18 years old at the time I was hospitalised.

How did you deal with your phobia?

It was more of a gradual development process that I learnt to treat my own phobia and then wanting to assist others. After so many operations I was unable to even walk into a hospital or look at needles and I wanted a cure. This started me on developing information I had researched on the treatment via gradual exposure.

When did you realise that a fear could be fixed in 90 minutes?

I initially was interested in a concept of one 3 hour session that was able to remove your phobia and as I worked through it with my own fear I managed to reduce the time down to 90 minutes. This was with the help of a heart rate monitor that was able to tell when his body had adjusted itself to the stimulus. Once you have stabilized heart rate (with your body calming down) you are able to progress to the next level of phobia removal.

How long did it take to go from an idea in your head to a real-life book?

This book is my third book and took 12 months from concept to a real “hold-in-your hand” book. Though to make us feel better, Anthony told me that his first book took six years to write. “Fear is Power” took so long due to gathering lots of celebrity comments and stories. Also he had 67 knock backs

before he was picked up by a publisher.

What is the most interesting phobia you have been presented with?

By far the most interesting set of phobias I have had to deal with in my practice are phobias of Light bulbs, fish tanks and ceiling fans, though balloons are also interesting and a prevalent phobia for my clients.

What are the most common phobias in Western society?

The most common would have to be 1- snakes, 2- spiders and 3- heights, which all of us are predisposed to fearing, from the age of two years onwards they are inherent in our nature. It is healthy to have a safe respect and fear of these things.

How has writing “Walking Tall” and “Fear is Power” and How to Fix Your Phobia in 90 Minutes” changed your life?

It has been a completely life changing experience. When people overcome their phobias with the help of my treatment, it is such an exhilarating feeling. To know that I have helped people get on with their life without fear it gives me such an amazing feeling of fulfillment.  The whole process has been such an amazing adventure and has made me more humble and real.

You a full time writer and psychologist and father now? How you mange to juggle it all!

I have no idea! Though seriously it is my passion so it doesn\’t feel like at work at all!

What five tunes would be on a “How to Fix Your Phobia in 90 Minutes” soundtrack?

1. Eye of the Tiger

2. Fighter by Christina Aguilera

3. Proud by M People

4. Lose Yourself by Eminem

5. How far we\’ve come by Matchbox 20

What makes you jump-in-the-air happy?

Accomplishing things, things that I didn\’t think I could. Also I love to cook a good meal – I feel a sense of achievement in that!

Who was your phobia buddy and how did they help you?

I actually had no phobia buddy, if I had the process could have been achieved a little quicker! I was on a solo mission.

Do you have snakes and spiders at your office?

Yes to both! We have three snakes and lots of spiders as well as the usual props, plastic spiders, vomit stuffed birds, rubber snakes and cockroaches. (Anthony assures me they are all well cared for and safely secured!!)

What’s your motto for life?

Do something small that scares you each day.

What’s a typical day in the life of Anthony?

Well,  starting at the quiet end of the day (because of his small children) the evening is when I get a chance to write, is usually stay up late writing and often wake up in the middle of the night with ideas.  Anthony is a stay at home Dad and works three times a week in his clinic.

What is a goal you are working towards?

My next goal is definitely my next book a book for parents called “Making Courage Childs Play”.  It is made up of 50 tips and unconventional ways to help children to be confident.

Also I would love to sit with Oprah and get that kind of worldwide exposure, “I heard she had a fear of chewing gum, we could solve that in 90 minutes!!”

What have you learnt in the time since your first book?

Life has changed from my first book, it has given me a touch of what fame is like and how hollow it can be. Also it has reinforced that friends and family are your rock and never to forget that.

Quick fire round – what’s your favourite:

  • City: Hobart
  • Book: My little daughter\’s first book which she wrote last year in kindergarten
  • Movie: As good as it gets – with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt
  • Way to relax: Bush walking
  • Must-have item: Pen & paper to write down ideas

What are your best suggestions for people to calm themselves down (while they order their copy of your book!)

  • Deep breathing, it\’s so simple but effective.
  • Positive self talk
  • Having a visual aid to calm and reassure yourself (Anthony keeps photo of his wife ad children) that helps to remind him that there is more to it.

Fix Your Phobia in 90 Minutes” is not just a book, but instead a “helper” who from the first page, seems to hold your hand and hold a bright torch for you. It is a beautiful and timely book for our society. It will leave you with a sense of achievement and satisfaction. And for the records, 90 minutes is nothing in terms of your whole life.

Penguin available now; RRP $19.95

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