What is Arachnophobia?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Arachnophobia, a fear of spiders, is justified when dealing with the poisonous Black Widow.
Arachnophobia, a fear of spiders, is justified when dealing with the poisonous Black Widow.

Little did Miss Muffet know when she sat down to eat a pleasant lunch that she was about to suffer from one of the most common phobias in the Western world. The appearance of the spider frightening Miss Muffet away should come as no surprise to the number of people who actually suffer from moderate to severe arachnophobia, which is an unreasonable fear of spiders. In fact, in the US, about 50% of women, and 25% of men report some degree of arachnophobia, so Miss Muffet is in good company.

Arachnophobics might be frightened of scorpions as well as spiders.
Arachnophobics might be frightened of scorpions as well as spiders.

All phobias represent an unreasonable fear of something. In truth, very few spiders are dangerous to humans. For the person suffering from arachnophobia, it really doesn’t matter to logically tell the person that he or she is in no danger. The arachnophobe generally can’t listen to reason or logic on the subject, and even the most innocent Daddy Long Legs may provoke a flight or fight response. In arachnophobia, danger is perceived if a spider is seen or suspected to be present, even if no true danger exists.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be helpful in treating arachnophobia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be helpful in treating arachnophobia.

People with arachnophobia may also fear other types of arachnids, like scorpions, or they may have an overwhelming fear of all insects. Arachnophobia can sadly limit a person’s behavior. If you intensely fear spiders, you might not want to go anywhere where you could encounter one. This means camping trips or visits to the woods could definitely be out of the question.

Some doctors are able to use virtual reality images of spiders to get their patients to interact with spiders and help treat their arachnophobia.
Some doctors are able to use virtual reality images of spiders to get their patients to interact with spiders and help treat their arachnophobia.

Another trouble for those with arachnophobia is that spiders commonly live in houses. To suddenly be faced with your greatest fear dangling from a window or the bathroom wall can be a difficult encounter. Those with extreme arachnophobia might feel completely paralyzed by such an encounter and be unable to move or to approach the spider.

Some of us have a mild fear of spiders, expressed by a sense of heightened fear around spiders, or “the willies” if we have to remove a spider from the home. In many cases, better understanding of spiders can allay any mild fear of spiders. Although arachnophobia requires real treatment, there is hope for arachnophobes who want to recover from this phobia.

Trembling may occur as a result of various phobias, including arachnophobia.
Trembling may occur as a result of various phobias, including arachnophobia.

Treatment for most phobias focuses on desensitization. People write about their fear, watch the objects they fear, and learn to turn off their flight/fight response. In some cases, doctors are now using virtual reality images of spiders, so that patients can interact with “virtually” real spiders and thus lessen their arachnophobia. Though the process takes time, most people with arachnophobia can learn to conquer irrational fears of spiders. People with only a mild fear of spiders may never seek treatment if the fear does not seriously affect their daily lives.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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    • Arachnophobia, a fear of spiders, is justified when dealing with the poisonous Black Widow.
      By: peter_waters
      Arachnophobia, a fear of spiders, is justified when dealing with the poisonous Black Widow.
    • Arachnophobics might be frightened of scorpions as well as spiders.
      By: StanOd
      Arachnophobics might be frightened of scorpions as well as spiders.
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be helpful in treating arachnophobia.
      By: nadezhda1906
      Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be helpful in treating arachnophobia.
    • Some doctors are able to use virtual reality images of spiders to get their patients to interact with spiders and help treat their arachnophobia.
      By: Jandrie Lombard
      Some doctors are able to use virtual reality images of spiders to get their patients to interact with spiders and help treat their arachnophobia.
    • Trembling may occur as a result of various phobias, including arachnophobia.
      By: blanche
      Trembling may occur as a result of various phobias, including arachnophobia.