How to Get Over Your Fear of Spiders and Start Caressing Tarantulas

Illustration for article titled How to Get Over Your Fear of Spiders and Start Caressing Tarantulas

Spiders are creepy! I mean, they are kind of neat, but mostly they cause people to scurry away in fear and sometimes even emit high-pitched shrieks. Well, if you are one of the people who can't stand those little multi-legged crawlers, you might be in luck. A new study has found that it is possible to turn people from arachnophobes to spider-tolerators in just one therapy session. Researchers at Northwestern University studied 12 people with a severe fear of spiders, and they found that just two or three hours of therapy was enough to change their brains sufficiently so that they were comfortable holding a tarantula in their hands. Ahh! Why would you ever want to do that?

It's pretty amazing, actually, considering that most of these people couldn't even look at pictures of spiders before treatment, and the closest they'd come to a tarantula was about 10 feet away. So what went on in these magical therapy sessions? Apparently the patients learned the "truth" about tarantulas, which is that they're just trying to hide from us, and, contrary to our worst nightmares, they cannot leap out of their cages. They then also worked to move the patients closer to the tarantula and got them used to touching it with an item like a paintbrush or a glove. (The poor tarantula must have been like, "What is this weirdo doing to me?") Then, after all was said and done, the patients were fine with letting the spider onto their hands.

The changes that occurred in their brain lasted for about six months, so it's not a permanent cure. But it's a start! It's just too bad this can never be used to cure a fear of snakes, because everyone knows the "truth" about them is that they are soulless killers who really should not be able to move around without lets and yet somehow can—in other words, pure evil.


Fear Of Spiders Overcome By A Single Therapy Session, Study Finds [HuffPo]

Image via withGod/Shutterstock.

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So, this is coming from someone is not generally too afraid of any "creepy crawlies." I just always wonder, do phobics realize their phobias are irrational? I mean, at least the once concerning things that won't really hurt you? Do they realize it's irrational, and just accept that they are suffering from something irrational? I might have been inspired to ask this for a somewhat stupid reason - I just wrote a research paper on fears and the natural world and while researching came across "mottephobia", the fear of moths and butterflies. I found many forums dedicated to this. People would write how they didn't understand how other people could let a butterfly anywhere near them, or why their family members didn't want to immediately kill all moths on sight. A lot of the posters seemed truly unaware that other people don't experience the same level of fear they do towards these creatures. It just seems like...if I knew I had a phobia, I would also at least understand that the majority of people did not have it and that the fear is irrational. I'm not saying the phobia is irrational, I know that is something the sufferer can't control without help and therapy. I just wonder at people's levels of awareness, sometimes.