What Are You Afraid of: Justin and Leslie

What Are You Afraid of: Justin and Leslie

"I'm a little embarrassed to admit, but my wonderful husband is terrified of costumed characters," says Leslie. "My husband is kind of a wimp. When we go to Chuck E. Cheese's, I ask Justin if he would like me to hold his hand," she says, laughing.

"When I see someone wearing a costume, I get flushed, panicky. My palms get sweaty," says Justin. "My wife thinks that my fears are completely irrational. My wife thinks I'm a baby. She will tell me I need to suck it up."

"My kids love Disneyland," says Leslie. "It's the happiest place on earth."

Justin sees it differently. "I think that Disneyland is one of the most terrifying places on earth," he says.

"Our 5-year-old little boy has a Batman costume, but he's not allowed to wear his Batman mask around his daddy. It's really weird," says Leslie.

"My son tells people, 'We can't go to the circus because my dad is afraid of clowns.' Leslie has told me that it's all in my head, it's not a real fear. I would like my wife to understand that this is not something I can suck up and deal with," says Justin.

"I've heard of men being scared of spiders or serial killers, but cute, fuzzy characters? Come on! Dr. Phil, how can I help my husband get over his fear of costumed characters?" asks Leslie.


"The first thing you can do is stop scaring him, and teasing him, and making fun of him all the time about it because it is involuntary," Dr. Phil tells Leslie. "You said he's just a wuss?"

"No, I understand. I know it's a real fear," says Leslie.

Dr. Phil questions Leslie's decision to take the family to Chuck E. Cheese's, and then parade the costumed characters in front of her husband.

"Because I want him to face his fears," she says.

"Here is the deal: You know what scares you about this? It's that you don't have any feedback," Dr. Phil tells Justin. "You look at them and it's inanimate, so you have no feedback. And you like to be able to see people's faces because you can kind of tell if they're getting ready to whip out a chainsaw and cut your head off, right?"

"Right," says Justin. "It's like what you were saying earlier with the control. They're entirely in control of the situation. They have the advantage on me. They know who I am. I don't know who they are."

"But most people who are going to really initiate violence or crime or aggression, they're usually going to try to fade into the background, not show up at your door in a Chuck E. Cheese costume," Dr. Phil points out. "So rationally, you have to think about the fact that it is a low risk that there's somebody in there who is going to do something bad. But most importantly, you have to have confidence in your ability to deal with the unknown. You can learn to relax in the presence of those kinds of people. And in order to do that, you have to first learn how to relax. Rid your body of all tension. And then begin to introduce the thought of somebody in a mask, then a picture of somebody in a mask, then actually going to a place where somebody is in a mask, and sit way across the room from them, practicing your relaxation skills. It's a very effective tool,

and I'm going to help you do that, so you can take the kids to Disneyland or do whatever you want to do. If I give you the things to do that, will you do it?"

"Sure," says Justin.

"My prediction is within just a matter of spending 10 or 12 hours on this over the next few months or so, you could totally eliminate this from your life," says Dr. Phil.

"That will be great," says Leslie.