Wherever you live, you’re always close to a creature that is part of the largest group of animals on Earth, the arthropods. Their relatives are called arachnids. They have eight walking legs, simple eyes and piercing jaws (fangs), abdominal silk spinning organs, anterior abdominal genital opening. Arachnids include scorpions, pseudo-scorpions, whip spiders, harvestmen, ticks mites, and spiders. Spiders are ancient animals with a history going back many millions of years. They have always been with us. They are abundant and widespread and are natural controllers of insect populations.
Spiders are an ancient source of fascination and fear. Many people are afraid of spiders, which can even become serious if not given due attention. So why the fear of spiders? Fear of spiders can be divided into two categories. One is born mostly from a dislike or disgust for spiders and the other is based on fears that have little or no basis in reality. People who are afraid of spiders can have reactions that range from shrinking back and screaming to paralyzing cases of arachnophobia. People with this kind of phobia arrange their lives around the avoidance of spiders. A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is the fancy name for a fear. Researches have shown that phobia sufferers constitute the largest group of sufferers of chronic anxiety attacks. In the States alone, there are more than 23 million Americans who suffer from anxiety disorders so severe that they have an impaired ability to function. Eighty percent of them are women. But a phobia isn’t just any kind of fear. It is also a kind of fear that doesn’t go away. A phobia is different because it is an extremely strong fear of a situation or thing, in this case, the fear of spiders or arachnophobia.
Arachnophobia is the scientific name for the fear of spiders. Is is the most common example of an insect phobia and many people experience it mildly and for some people it has very intense effects. Different people suffer to different degrees and to those who do not suffer them phobias seem irrational, the afflicted person reacts intensely to the merest sign or sight of the phobia-causing animal. It is often difficult if not impossible for those who are not suffering to make any sense of what they are experiencing. Phobias can be stimulated by many animals but spiders are the most common source.
Beginning cases of arachnophobia can be dispelled with knowledge before they turn into overarching fears. Teaching a child about spiders while the child is calm may help with systematic desensitization. It means that the child will become progressively more relaxed when encountering or thinking about a spider. This may help avoid expensive therapies.
Another way to cure fear is by means of aversion therapy (or direct shock therapy.) Patients are persuaded to approach spiders step by step, stopping when they feel their fear culminate. By staying in that position for some time, the fear recedes and patients are encouraged to approach the feared animal ever more closely. Finally they succeed in touching it and even in letting it walk on them as they realize that there’s really nothing to be afraid of. Hypnosis can also applied to victims who suffer from phobias.
Spiders are really fascinating and attractive animals and if one can learn to share the world with them in peace, we will have added a little enjoyment to life.