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Dear Dr. Yael,

I know that you practice hypnosis and thought I would write to ask if you think my problem could be helped by it. You see, I am afraid of flying. My husband has accepted my fears and we always take vacations to places where we could drive. We even looked for a local shidduch for our daughter. Both of our families live in the tri-state area so we have never had an issue. We once went to Canada, but we drove so it wasn’t a problem.


So what’s my problem? Our young couple is moving to Israel. We knew this could happen but did not deal with the reality until now. My daughter so wants me to come when she has a baby – and so do I. It has been my dream to be there for all of my children as they build their homes. My husband and I have been talking about how much better it would be if I would fly – we have had other simchas in Israel that I have missed.

Do you think hypnosis would work for me? I should add that my mother has a fear of flying as well.



Dear Reader,

Hypnosis is helpful for a myriad of issues and it can certainly help you conquer your fear of flying. However, whether it works or not is up to you. Some people are more receptive to hypnosis than others and, as I do not know you, I can’t say how well it will work.

In order to undergo hypnosis and have it be effective, one needs to be motivated. For example, when I work with people on hypnosis for weight loss, they know that they must stick to a reasonable food plan. Hypnosis can help a person increase his or her motivation and control the desire to overeat, but the person must be motivated to really stick with the plan.

Most fears may be the result of deeper issues that need to be dealt with in therapy; if that is the case here, hypnosis alone will not work.

Growing up with a phobic mother can also be a cause of this fear and that may need to be addressed in therapy as well. Research has shown that parents who have certain fears usually transmit them to their offspring.  Studies with rats have shown that when a mother is afraid of something, she emits a certain odor, which even a baby will pick up on, causing it to likely fear the same thing.  Neuroscientists have found that human babies can detect their mother’s fears early on as they are capable of understanding fearful expressions.  More recent research has found that fears and phobias can actually be hereditary. A study published in the Journal of Nature Neuroscience found that fear can be genetically transmitted in mice. They used genetic sequencing to create offspring of mice that were conditioned to fear the smell of cherry blossoms. Researchers found that even generations later, the fear of cherry blossoms was still prevalent, even when they had not seen their mother’s fear. Researchers are not sure if this is true in humans, but, as I said, children who see their parents afraid of something may develop the same fear. Thus, it would be prudent to try to work on your fears so that you stop this fear for yourself and your future generations. Although your daughter is obviously not afraid to fly, it is a good idea to try to work on your fear and try to stop it from continuing into the future.

If you would like to listen to my lecture about hypnosis or any of my other recorded lectures, you can access them by calling Kol Haloshon at 718-906-6400, prompts 1-5-14.  Currently, the Hypnosis lecture is the last one recorded.


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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at