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fear of spiders

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Are you projecting, or do you have evidence that people normally act with revulsion when they see spiders? I only know one person who has utter spider-freakout, so I'm wondering if for example only most people, or some people, or a few people act this way. I just wonder if this is a "normal" reaction, and that lack of fear or revulsion is abnormal.

It's based on my observation that people tend to react that way, when a spider suddenly moves into their field of vision. People don't react the same way with most insects as they do with spiders.

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It's based on my observation that people tend to react that way, when a spider suddenly moves into their field of vision. People don't react the same way with most insects as they do with spiders.
This may be true, but it doesn't mean that people normally fear spiders. If 1% of mankind has a fear of bugs and .75% of mankind has a fear of spiders, that doesn't mean that it's normal for man to fear spiders. It does mean that the most common bug-fear is spider-fear. I don't know if I accept that for man in general, but it could easily be true for our culture.
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The bigger point is that emotions, such as happiness, sadness, pride, disgust and fear have a rational basis, so the notion of rationality is applicable to emotion even though people often see them as being irreducible primaries that are completely outside of reason.

Right. Emotions form based on the persons values and actions. Pride has no choice to form, however, if a man is productive and he values productive work- pride HAS to form, same with the other emotions. So that means the decisions made by the person can be irrational but emotions always act accordingly to the laws of nature. Thats what I should have said before instead of saying they dont contradict anything in reality.

If you chose to evade the facts that a kitten is of very little harm, then that is irrational decision-making, not an error fear made. Fear itself makes no choices and is never wrong. When fear exists it always means that you are uncertain of safety and harm.

Fear of cute little bunnies and kitties is totally irrational.

Is it irrational to fear kittens if you have never seen one or heard of one(but say the person has seen ferocious tigers)? The kitten isnt dangerous, but to the persons knowledge there is a good chance he can be. The basis of his fear formed from looking at facts objectively, he just is very ignorant at this point.

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People don't react the same way with most insects as they do with spiders.

I think a lot of it is due to automated impressions we picked up during our upbringing.

Observe that people also have a certain reaction when they see roaches that they do not when they see common houseflys which are probably just as dirty, if not more so.

Spiders area almost always protrayed as being dark and creepy. In every representation of a "haunted house" there are always cobwebs. Spiders are always a big part of Halloween decorations. And, of course, some bite.

I don't have a fear of spiders - but I sure as heck would not touch one, even if I knew it was not one of the kind that bite. If I need to get rid of one, I will either step on it, swat it or, on occasion, chase it into a cup and let it go outside. Somehow the thought of actually touching a spider - well, that shows I, too, have accepted the common mindset to some degree. By contrast, when I was a kid, I used to play with ants, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, grubs, June bugs and doodlebugs all the time and never gave a moment 's thought to touching them.

Edited by Dismuke
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Moose, you stated "It's based on my observation that people tend to react [with fright], when a spider suddenly moves into their field of vision. People don't react the same way with most insects as they do with spiders."

I work for the government. Recently, we've been having problem with mice or rats in one of our buildings. The reaction to seeing a mouse run across the floor is one of fright, just like a spider.

Also, in the state government, there are numerous people from different cultures who work in this building: American, Hispanic, Arabic, Indian, and various other Asian cultures. They all react the same way to mice. Conclusion: The fear of mice running across one's field of vision causes fear in the majority of healthy people.

I'm going to extrapolate what I know with mice to spiders. Let me assume that these people will have the same response to spiders running across the floor as mice. Why would there be the same reaction across cultures to a spider? It is either:

1. Coincidence

2. The world is starting to become "Americanized" and all cultures are following ours

3. People get scared about unexpected things running across their field of vision.

4. The vast majority of people are born with a fear of mice and spiders because of natural biological reasons.

I believe we can reject choice 1 based on statistics odds (There is about 500 people working in this building). We can also reject choice 2 because its too unlikely (why is the fear of spiders the only trait that is being carried over in the world??). Choice 3 may make sense, HOWEVER it does not explain why, when a person does recognize that motion as a spider, they refuse to touch it. Therefore, choice 4 is the only logical option, and that also removes such choices as "upbringing" and "culture". Which raises the question: Do humans have instinct (please don't answer it, there's another thread in progress)?

What is my option of a spider? I don't squish them, because its too messy. I usually flush them down the drain. I know there is only one spider that will bite in my area, and I know the features and the odds of finding one (that spider being a Black Widow).

Dismuke: I know this is off topic, but there is a quick way to kill and wasp or a spider. Take some hairspray, and spray it on the wasp or spider. The wasp will fall down, making it easy to squish (just not with your body, please!). The spider will stop moving (because the spray is too heavy) and it can be scooped up and flushed down the drain.

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I'm going to extrapolate what I know with mice to spiders. Let me assume that these people will have the same response to spiders running across the floor as mice. Why would there be the same reaction across cultures to a spider? It is either:

1. Coincidence

2. The world is starting to become "Americanized" and all cultures are following ours

3. People get scared about unexpected things running across their field of vision.

4. The vast majority of people are born with a fear of mice and spiders because of natural biological reasons.

I believe we can reject choice 1 based on statistics odds (There is about 500 people working in this building). We can also reject choice 2 because its too unlikely (why is the fear of spiders the only trait that is being carried over in the world??). Choice 3 may make sense, HOWEVER it does not explain why, when a person does recognize that motion as a spider, they refuse to touch it. Therefore, choice 4 is the only logical option, and that also removes such choices as "upbringing" and "culture". Which raises the question: Do humans have instinct (please don't answer it, there's another thread in progress)?

You dont honestly believe that its a biological fear to be afraid of mice and spiders, do you? I highly doubt spiders and mice were so dangerous to humans(or at all) in the past that the human body had to create an instinct as a way to protect us from these "beasts." The real reason that causes any fear is because the thing causes one to feel uncertain of his safety. A person can probably get over a fear of mice or spiders if he understands completely what he is dealing with;i.e. he gains knowledge.

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  • 1 year later...

I have a phobia of thuderstorms. I've had it as long as I can remember. Usually I'm frightened that a tornado will develop. I know that the odds of dying or being severly injured during a storm or even a tornado are very low, but that knowledge almost never overrides the intense fear I sometimes experience. I've went to counseling, been prescribed drugs like paxil and xanax, but they only had at minimal effect at best. Over the last few years, I've come to use alcohol to drown out the horrible feeling I experience, because I've found that works better than anything else I've tried. However, because of my family's history of alcoholism, and my problems with alcohol, I really do not want to use this method anymore. But I'm afraid that if I tried counseling again, it still wouldn't be effective.

Anyone got any ideas on what I should maybe try to?

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I have a phobia of thuderstorms. I've had it as long as I can remember. Usually I'm frightened that a tornado will develop. I know that the odds of dying or being severly injured during a storm or even a tornado are very low, but that knowledge almost never overrides the intense fear I sometimes experience. I've went to counseling, been prescribed drugs like paxil and xanax, but they only had at minimal effect at best. Over the last few years, I've come to use alcohol to drown out the horrible feeling I experience, because I've found that works better than anything else I've tried. However, because of my family's history of alcoholism, and my problems with alcohol, I really do not want to use this method anymore. But I'm afraid that if I tried counseling again, it still wouldn't be effective.

Anyone got any ideas on what I should maybe try to?

Is it the loud noise? If so, try desensitization techniques? Play 1812 Overture on your stereo all the time, go to heavy metal rock concerts.

Medication is dumb, whether a prescribed drug or alcohol. You may be able to find a professional to assist with desensitization therapy.

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Is it the loud noise? If so, try desensitization techniques? Play 1812 Overture on your stereo all the time, go to heavy metal rock concerts.

Medication is dumb, whether a prescribed drug or alcohol. You may be able to find a professional to assist with desensitization therapy.

The guy's afraid of tornado's and you're telling him to go to rock concerts. No offence, but this is silly advice.

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The guy's afraid of tornado's and you're telling him to go to rock concerts. No offence, but this is silly advice.

No its not silly, but it is nonresponsive to the tornado part of the question. Try watching the movies Twister and The Wizard of Oz(the b&w Kansas part) repeatedly. I think getting a house with a good deep storm cellar is the best bet, because tornadoes actually are dangerous and this fear is not irrational, just the magnitude of it.

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What if we fear things that we consciously know are harmless, but are subconsciously unable to accept the idea? Nurses always have to remind me to keep breathing every time I get blood work done. No matter how many times I make explicit to myself that there is no reason to fear needles I simply cannot help but still be afraid.

That little stress ball they give you to squeeze does not help either.

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From what I've seen, it only takes ONE bad experience to create a reaction to something . . . and they usually happen when you're so young that you can't remember it clearly, so it seems like your fear comes from some "instinct".

I had a problem for years that I couldn't stand the smell of cucumbers. It turns out that when I was 3 or so, I threw up immediately after eating cucumbers. Now that I know this, I'm actually able to eat cucumbers and enjoy them (I do like the "fresh" taste), it just takes an effort so usually I don't bother with it. I also have issues with most bugs, although I can cope.

I have zero fear of mice or snakes, although my MOTHER is afraid of mice. A mouse may startle me by running across the room suddenly, but my reaction after I get over being startled is to try to play with the mouse instead of standing on the furniture. I had gerbils for pets a lot (and mice at school) when I was a kid and I didn't get to see my mom's horror reaction to a mouse in the house until I was 17. It makes a difference.

I can actually remember my first encounter with a snake, which was brought to my classroom by a zookeeper. I got to pet the snake. It was very cool. Thereafter, I think snakes are extremely cool and I've never been afraid even of poisonous ones. I'm cautious because I don't *want* to get bitten, but I'm not afraid. I'm similarly cautious of strange dogs, but the only person I know whose really *afraid* of dogs was mauled as a child and still has scars. Fortunately he can remember the event so he can manage his fear, although I doubt he'll ever voluntarily own a dog.

Most people will encounter their first spider/mouse/snake/whatever when they're extremely young and young children are VERY sensitive to the reactions of the adults in their vicinity. If you jump up on the furniture and make a big scary deal out of the mouse/spider/snake/whatever, you will have just trained your young child into a fear that will continue to get worse throughout their lives. Why? Because after the initial bad experience, the next time they encounter the whatever-it-is (this works for needles, too!) they'll react with fear, which reinforces the reaction. It becomes a self-perpetuating problem.

I don't know if it will help you, but it helps me to remember that I'm feeling afraid of something largely because I've felt afraid in the past. It can also help to remind me that my fear is probably the result of something that I don't remember clearly. Then I try to focus on a time when I dealt with the whatever-it-was calmly. For some fears, you may have to manufacture this event, which is what desensitizing therapy is about, I believe.

For thunderstorms specifically it *may* help you to follow the weather so that the storm won't sneak up on you by surprise. Then, when you know a storm is coming, plan out what you'll do to escape from it should you find yourself overwhelmed by your fear. Remind yourself that you don't have to feel ashamed or upset because you have to escape . . . you're working on your fear today and you can only do so much at once. Then make the determination that you're going to hold out for as long as you possibly can. Estimate beforehand how long that is going to be. (I recommend a pessimistic estimate.) You will probably find that you can hold out longer than that . . . which will give you a success to base your next attempt on as well as a handy meter of your progress.

Weirdly enough, this is what I do when I'm exercising, which is another thing that I have a subconsciously programmed emotional response against. It's not fear, per se, it's more of a definite "I don't wanna!" feeling that is extremely difficult to overcome. I haven't defeated it yet (especially because it's very hard for me to face fighting the I Don't Wanna when I'm busy or tired), but I usually find that I can keep going much better than I think I can.

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I guess my fear of needles then must be rooted from the time I got my first shot. I think this event may also explain why I am a little leery of nurses.

I remember: The nurse was prepping the syringe and I asked her what was inside of it. She lied and told me it was Kool-Aid (right then I wondered why they were going to inject it into my arm, because I have no taste buds in my veins). I watched the syringe go in and the fatty portions of my flesh roll around the needle, and it freaked me out so much I screamed (screaming being forgivable coming from a six-year-old).

My hypothesis was confirmed: There are no taste buds in my veins.

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Thank you all for your responses. It really means alot to me. I'm wondering though whether I should try to get professional help. I really don't want any doctor trying to push drugs on me, and maybe if I learn more about desensitization therapy I can do it on my own, which is what I would prefer.

As far as I know, I have never been in any situation where a tornado actually developed where I was at. But like I said, I've had this phobia as long as I can remember, but when I was like 4 or 5, I don't think I knew what a tornado was, so I was probably just scared of the storm itself. Probably later when I found out what a tornado was, the fear went in that direction.

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I remember being nervous about the possibility of a tornado when I was young-ish, maybe 8 or 9. It doesn't take much to kick a young child over into being afraid of something and once that phobic self-reinforcement cycle gets started it is very hard to break.

It seemed mean at the time, but I wonder whether my relatives' tendencies to tease me when I was being a scaredy-cat prevented me from developing any REAL phobias, because I was one heck of a nervous kid. You may have picked up your fear from a parent or relative . . . or they may have encouraged it simply by giving you positive feedback when you were evidencing extreme amounts of fear. I wouldn't blame your parents (or anyone else) though. It can be tough to hit that balance between "I'm soothing you" and "I'm encouraging you to be a hysteric."

From what I have heard, medication by itself is usually a really bad idea. I mean, what good does it do you to become *dependent* upon valium or alcohol to get you through a bad situation? The medication is useful because it can help you get through the first part of your therapy by taking off the edge of your anxiety. That's what doing those other things helps you with, too: it helps you develop a zone of security so that you experience a limited amount of fear. To someone who is petrified with fear, experiencing less fear is almost the same as a *good* experience, and it helps to gradually build up to a point where you can wean yourself off the coping methods.

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  • 1 month later...

I think that fear of spiders and mice may stem from the fact that these creatures are fast-moving. I say this because I own a pet tarantula and I have absolutely no fear of him, even when he rears up and bares his fangs. He's very slow-moving because of his size, and if he ever got loose I could easily keep my distance.

However, when you see a smaller spider up close, there is a very real chance that it could decide to make physical contact with you. They move erratically and are hard to keep an eye on. Nobody wants a spider running up their arm and under their shirt, even if it isn't dangerous. It's a very uncomfortable experience. I've found that I am more afraid of things with many legs, especially centipedes. I can deal with finding a spider on my ceiling or something, but I absolutely hate centipedes. For a while I would not even go down in my basement to work out because I feared the feeling of their many legs running across my ankle.

That doesn't explain the mice, but frankly I have never been afraid of mice and see no reason why anyone would. If I encountered one at work my biggest fear would be that if I picked it up to toss it outside it would pee on my shirt.

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  • 2 months later...

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