The Phobia Solution
By: Peggy Gerber
Kristy shrieked so fiercely when she saw the rat on the subway tracks that a police officer came racing over. Her friend Ben almost fell on the floor laughing. He said, "Kristy if you are going to live in New York City, you need to get over your fear."
Kristy groaned, she knew he was right: so when she arrived home, she threw down her keys, grabbed her computer and began googling psychologists. When she saw Dr. Schmidt's ad, "Phobias gone or your money back," she thought 'Perfect' and called for an appointment. During their brief phone consultation, the doctor assured her that rat phobias were very common, and he had a very special cure for that.
When Kristy arrived for her first appointment she was very nervous, but as she walked into Dr. Schmidt's office the calming atmosphere made her feel comfortable right away. Everything about the room screamed out relaxation. The walls were painted a soft pale blue, there was a fluffy, tan couch to sink into and soft music playing in the background. Kristy knew Dr. Schmidt's specialty was exposure therapy and read quite a bit about it. She expected that on her first visit the doctor would show her pictures of rats while teaching her relaxation exercises.
After getting comfortable on the couch, Dr. Schmidt crooned hypnotically, "Kristy, just close your eyes, relax and picture your phobia gone. Imagine yourself on the subway platform watching the rats scamper down the tracks, feeling completely relaxed." He then added, "Kristy, I am just stepping out for a moment, but keep breathing and picturing success." Kristy thought it was odd that the doctor was stepping out, but followed his instructions and continued laying down and taking deep breaths. When she felt something tickle her arm, she opened her eyes and sat bolt upright, What she saw made her shake so uncontrollably her legs wriggled like jelly. Dr. Schmidt had let in a bunch of live rats and locked the door. The rats were running in circles around her feet. Her mind went blank and her heart began pounding so frantically it was hurting her chest. When the rats began climbing up her legs, it shook her out of her trance and she raced to the door, kicking it as hard as she could. She began screaming, "Dr. Schmidt, what is wrong with you? Help me! Let me out! Get them off! Get them off! Noo!"
Dr. Schmidt glanced at his watch and smiled. Time was almost up. Kristy had been quiet for a while now and he thought, 'Another satisfied customer.'When the alarm buzzed, Dr Schmidt unlocked the door and grimaced. There was Kristy laying on the floor in the fetal position, moaning incoherently, blood dripping down her face. He thought, 'Oh shoot, did I forgot to feed them again? That money back guarantee was a stupid idea.'