Phobia, Fear and Procrastination- Public Enemy Number One (by John Cooper)

On 25th January 1947, after a very successful career in murder, extortion and running hooch across the Canadian border, Al Capone drew his last breath. He wasn’t shot or stabbed. He died because he had a phobia of needles. The most notorious gangster of all time wasn’t afraid of the FBI but he’d cry like a baby when faced with a tetanus jab. He caught syphilis and died aged 33 after the condition had got to his brain. Not a very nice way to go, apparently.


If you don’t face the things that scare you, it can have a big impact on your life. Whether it’s physical or mental, putting off getting help can make things worse.


The Duke of Cambridge said recently that he has struggled with his mental health, saying that he suffered a traumatic incident that he didn’t think he would ever get over. If he hadn’t opened up to friends about the situation he would have ‘gone down a slippery slope’. He didn’t reveal the details, but we know it happened when he was part of an air ambulance crew and he said it was ‘related very closely to my children’.


It’s good to hear him talk about his struggles so openly. In our culture it used to be seen as a sign of weakness to discuss mental health issues. The people that went through the horrors of the world wars and never talked about it must have suffered so much. There wasn’t much help out there in those days.


Thankfully, that’s changing, it’s just a pity that the NHS don’t have the resources to help everyone that needs it. If you tell your doctor that your life is in danger, they will push you to the front of the queue. Anything less and you’ll have to wait it out. They’re skint, I’m not blaming them.


Schools usually have a counsellor that young people can turn to when they need to talk. A friendly ear can put things into perspective and sometimes it’s therapeutic just to know someone is listening. It’s a pity more workplaces don’t have a dedicated therapist.


I am often someone’s last resort to help with their problem. They’ve tried all sorts of things and nothings worked. Why wouldn’t you try all the free stuff before you have to fork out for hypnotherapy?


Some other therapies have you coming back every fortnight for five years. I’d like you to walk out of my office after five sessions, feeling fantastic. It’s worth doing your research and deciding which therapy best suits your problem. Why not do it now?


We all put things off. I am writing this article the night before it goes to print. There’s a weekend of washing up that I’ve been eyeing suspiciously all day. I know that I’ll have to tackle it eventually, just like Al Capone knew that sometime soon he should probably pop down to the walk-in centre for a little injection.


 From my column in the Peterborough Telegraph, April 2019