Recently, my husband and I were watching VH1's "The OCD Project," which documents a 21 day treatment camp for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder run by Dr. David Tolin. OCD actually has a lot to do with extreme irrational fear. Much of the therapy in the show involves them facing their fears.
The OCD Project Supertrailer
In the tailor, you see a clip where the patients are writing down their fears about what might happen if they don't do their OCD rituals. On the episode, Dr. Tolin has them read what they wrote into a tape recorder. He then uses these recordings as voice-overs for videos he makes called "fear movies"--images depicting their worst fears. He has them watch these films wearing a heartrate monitor, as increases in heartrate indicate anxiety. The films play twice, and during the first run, all of the patients had increases in heart rate in response to seeing their fears. Their rates stabilized when the film ended and then when it played again, their heartrates remained stable because it became less scary after they had seen it--exposure decreased anxiety.
This exercise reminded me of the Fear Release exercise in Hypnobabies, which involves visualizing watching your fears on a screen. I realized that part of how this exercise works is that by seeing our fears, we become less afraid of them.