My mother in-law is getting a new car, and she very kindly offered to give us her old one. It's 4 years newer than our second car, and was a much nicer car in the first place. The catch is that it's a stick shift, and I haven't driven one in approximately 11 years. Ok, everyone promises it will come back to me. I spent some time practicing in an empty parking lot, and then last week I started using it to drive to the metro station.
Overall, it's gone pretty well. Yes, I've stalled out at stop lights a few times, but overall the drivers around me have been remarkably gracious about waiting for me to get the car moving again. After a week and a half, I'm doing a lot better, and am no longer terrified.
Or at least my conscious mind is no longer terrified. My body seems to have a different opinion. Every day last week, I needed to use the bathroom pretty much nonstop from when I woke up until I left for work, and by Friday, I felt sick pretty much all day. I was fine over the weekend (when I drove our automatic transmission minivan) and then my gut acted up again Monday morning. Not fun.
So, I spent some time on Monday googling, and wound up downloading two MP3s from this hypnosis site, one on stopping irritable bowel syndrome,* and one on overcoming fear of driving. Since the problem was clearly originating in the mind-body link, it seemed logical that was a good place to start trying to fix it. And telling myself that I was being ridiculous didn't seem to be helping. I'm pretty sure that hypnosis can't hurt, and the downloads are cheap enough that it was worth a try. I listened to them on both Monday and Tuesday, and yesterday my gut was better and today was better yet.
I told T, and he said he was glad it was helping, even if it was the placebo effect. My response was "what exactly do you think is the difference between hypnosis and the placebo effect?" As far as I can tell, hypnosis is essentially a way of harnessing the power of mind over body that makes the placebo effect work. I suppose you could test whether hypnosis directed at a specific goal was more effective than just putting someone in a trance and not making specific suggestions, but that would only work if you were able to get people into enough of a trance that they didn't know what you had said. (I personally have no idea what's on either MP3 I listened to between the introductory section and the ending, but I've had that happen in meetings too.)
* The MP3 begins with a disclaimer that only a doctor can diagnose IBS and that you should seek medical treatment, etc. etc.