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'With pure phobias, we undertake something called systematic desensitisation,' says Dr Atcheson.
'This involves the patient making a list of things they are scared of and working their way through them.
With projected phobias, however, we have to deal with the underlying cause first and then go on to the desensitisation process.' Sarah's phobia stemmed from seeing her brother John, who has a genetic bone disease, undergo operations as a child.
When she was five, she was told he might die, and, from then, began to associate anaesthetics with death.
Lying on a hospital trolley, minutes before an operation to remove her brain tumour, Sarah Rommell was gripped by a sense of rising panic.
Even though she knew her brain tumour was on the verge of becoming inoperable and surgery was her last hope, she found herself begging the anaesthetist to delay.
'About one in four of my phobia patients suffer from anxiety connected to seeing a doctor or surgery.
My neurologist said these were partial seizures caused by the tumour's location.Pure phobia is associated with medical treatment itself, and is usually connected with an experience-the patient or a family member-has been through.Projected phobia is where a patient associates the treatment with a past trauma, such as childhood abuse.'I felt like I was going before the executioner and he was there with his axe waiting for me,' says Sarah, 39.'It sounds ridiculous now, but in my mind, surgery equalled almost certain death.
'In fact, the scan revealed a bony growth inside my skull.