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Arachnophobia: Fear of Spiders Explained

It is quite safe to say that the other phobias known to us today are new, at least relative to spider phobia. Inexplicable fear for anything related to height or needles may have just aroused after we started to extensively use big needles in the medical industry or build tall skyscrapers pointing towards the sky -- all of these are fairly recent. The experts who made the first theories on spider phobia or Arachnophobia say that this fear has been around for as long as humans have lived. According to their theories, humans are supposed to have inherited this trait from their ancient ancestors who first figured out that spiders can be really deadly, hence be feared. The phobia, according to them is just like an evolutionary predisposition inherent to humans. Nevertheless, recent studies have revealed that majority of those who are extremely afraid of spiders could have just acquired this trait during their early childhood, which is contrary to the first claims that it Arachnophobic individuals are born with the phobia already.

Fear and Phobia

It is normal for people to fear things that can harm them. For example, it is a normal human reaction to be afraid of height if there is a grave possibility of fallout, or it is normal to be afraid of snakes if the proximity of the snake is sufficient to inflict danger to us. However, if a mere picture of a snake freaks you out, or the mere thought that you are in a tall skyscraper already gives you shivers up to your spine, then perhaps, that's phobia. Phobia is an inexplicable fear towards something; things like fear of dust, fear of peanut butter stuck on the roof the mouth, fear of germs, etc.

Spider Phobia Explained

Now, while it is normal to be afraid of creepy creatures like snakes and spiders, according to the experts, studies revealed that Arachnophobic individuals react very differently to any stimuli related to spiders as compared to equally dangerous stimuli like guns, knives, car, etc. Furthermore, they conducted a separate experiment on Arachnophobia participated by individuals separated into two groups, those with previous experience with spiders and the other, with no experience at all.

Surprisingly, although all members of both groups agree that spiders can be potentially dangerous, it was found out that those who do not have experience with spiders show the more aggressive reactions towards the test subjects. This made the experts conclude that the fear towards spiders may not be due to the preferential attention that they get (one popular theory is that spiders can grab attention quickly that children might processed fear towards spiders early in their development stage because of an encounter). According to the theory of preferential attention, since these creatures can grab our attention quickly, we are most likely to develop an implicit fear over them which could have evolved into a phobia as we grow older.

This furthers their theory that Arachnophobia may have been caused by preferential attention couple by certain emotional responses. For example, if a child grew up in a home where most adults cringe at the very sight of spiders, that child might grow up developing that same fear. Thus, according to these experts, phobia may have been avoided even after an encounter if the emotional response incited is not negative. For example, the participants in the experiment belonging to the group whose members have experience with spiders strengthens this theory by establishing that their encounter with spiders in the past has not affected them because the emotional response elicited right after the encounter wasn't negative. Those who belong to the other group, on the other hand, revealed significant fear towards spiders even though they haven't had any encounter with spiders yet. It was found out that many of these people are simply greatly influence by the media and their environment to condition their minds to think of spiders as very fearsome creatures.

Phobia Treatment

The most common method employed for spider phobia treatment nowadays is hypnotherapy which basically is just mind conditioning. All types of phobias are born because of how our minds are conditioned, that is, to fear the object of our phobia as they are extremely harmful, at least that's how we perceive them. Just like all disorders, for a treatment to be effective, one has to make sure that the disorder is indeed existent and is not a mere product of whim or false state of mind. Moreover, those who do have the disorder but denies the fact that they are indeed Arachnophobic may just miss treatment and continue living a life fool of unfounded fear. Thus, here's a short checklist which might help you assess if you are a pure-blood Arachnophobic:

1. You hate the thought of spiders and you never want to think of them at all.

2. Thinking of anything that resembles a spider (shape, texture, size, color, etc.) gives you the creep.

3. Googly eyes are creepy for you, so as four pairs of legs.

4. Above all things, you never want to see a spider your whole life.

Now, if any of the four given conditions above (there are other things that can make you say that you are Arachnophobic, the four above are mere examples) make your heart pound incredulously fast, rush blood into your face and make you sweat like the temperature around you just shoot to 40 deg centigrade, then you are definitely terrified of spiders.

Having known of your real condition, you will then be able to assess for yourself if you are willing to overcome your spider phobia. The will to proceed with the treatments should emanate from the Arachnophobic individual himself or herself; else the entire procedure will just fail. Without direct participation from the patient, any attempts to access their sub consciousness (that's how hypnotherapy works) will not work and mind conditioning will be impossible. Moreover, those who are willing to submit themselves to hypnotherapy should make sure that they are dealing with professionals and not just mere pseudo hypnotherapy practitioners.
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