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YARNLADY's avatar

Is it really possible to get over an irrational fear of spiders?

Asked by YARNLADY (39524 points ) August 21st, 2009

I have read the aversion therapy and cognitive behavior therapy can help, but do you really get over it, or just learn to control it? Is the irrational fear still there? I have a very extreme fear.

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26 Answers

kyanblue's avatar

Oui.
I used to be afraid of spiders. (Well, it was a mild fear. Not as extreme as some, I suppose.)
My extremely undramatic method to solve this was to just kill them. First with a retractable pointer with a newspaper rubber-banded on the end, and then gradually I worked my way up to killing them with two layers of toilet paper.

That’s the closest I can get to them, though. I can’t kill them with my bare hands…although I don’t mind if they crawl on me anymore. If I think about it too much, though (or look at closeup pictures of spiders) I freak out all over again.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Ooh, I don’t know. I’ve gone from bug-eyed being jittery on site to moving into kill action on site, still with some jitters.

NowWhat's avatar

I read before that the only way to overcome a fear is to submerge yourself in it. That’s why I’ll be afraid of spiders until the day I die. It’s the worst when they lower themselves onto you when you’re driving. It almost made me crash into a crowd of people in a parking lot a few months ago. That was a close call.

wilbert's avatar

yes, there are doctors and clinics that specialize is fears. but unfortunetely they are costly. these can be done with a friend, and if you don’t confront your fears and learn to get over at a young age, they will come back to haunt you in later life. I know, terrified of dogs. Never got proper help and now, stay at home a lot

filmfann's avatar

I used to have an irrational fear of ants. I grew out of it.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’ve gotten to where I don’t have a heart attack when I see them walking down the wall, but when they run across my keyboard, or even worse, my arm, I nearly black out every time. It takes 5 or 10 minutes for my heart to stop beating so hard. Looking at pictures of them gives me the creeps, and I avoid it whenever possible.

photographcrash's avatar

immersion therapy!

ragingloli's avatar

yes. all you need is constantly increased contact with spiders.
i saw a documentary about how they cured arachnophibics by first letting them observe spiders from a distance, then make them get closer with each session, including in virtual reality, where they can simulate the patients being in a room full of spiders. the final step was making them touch the spider.
after that, cured.

casheroo's avatar

I personally don’t feel my fear is unhealthy.

I did therapy to get over agoraphobia/panic disorder. Under a trained professional, they would bring on panic attacks and I had to deal with it. I haven’t had an episode of agoraphobia since I completed my therapy, so it was worth it for me.

skfinkel's avatar

If your fear of spiders is confined only to spiders, and not then to other creepy crawlie things, I would imagine it is possible to get rid of it with aversion therapy. If your fear seems to grow to other things, it is more of a phobia, and those fears are rooted in something psychological in your own personal unconscious, and that would require a deeper kind of work so that you can find out what started it to rid of it fully. Good luck!

YARNLADY's avatar

@skfinkel Any creature that “walks” the way spiders do brings on my revulsion, such as crabs, and a few other insects. I can stand beetles and butterflies, as long as I don’t look too closely. Those “replicators” on Star Gate were a definite problem for me.

MissAusten's avatar

@YARNLADY I used to have the same reaction to spiders. When I was a little kid, I didn’t mind them at all. My best friend and I used to catch bugs to throw into spider webs and watch the resulting drama. Sometimes, we’d ask his mom for an empty margarine tub, poke holes in the lid, and put two spiders in it. We’d leave it in my garage for several days, then check to see which one had survived. I clearly remember throwing a very fat earthworm into a huge wolf spider’s web in my garage, then sqatting there with my friend while we watched the spider try to subdue that thrashing worm. Kids can be so morbid.

Then, I started having nightmares about giant spiders. In my dreams, I never saw the spiders but could hear them moving through the house. I’d hide from them, and then see my family all wrapped up in spider webs. I’d wake up crying every time, and after a while it got so I couldn’t even look at a tiny spider without shuddering and feeling sick to my stomach. If one were to crawl on me, I’d completely panic. Keep in mind that I’ve never had an aversion to any other kind of creepy-crawly—bugs, snakes, bees, wasps, centipedes, mice…they’re very interesting to me.

Several years ago I made a conscious decision to stop being silly about spiders. The vast, vast majority of spider species are perfectly harmless. There are no dangerous spiders where we live. I also did not want my kids to see my reaction to spiders and be afraid of something that I knew they shouldn’t fear. If I saw a spider, I’d force myself to take a deep breath, walk toward it, and point it out to my kids. Eventually I progressed (regressed?) to feeding hapless bugs to spiders in the yard to show my kids what spiders do. Now I can observe them, help my son catch them, and look at close-up photos of them in books without being bothered.

However, if a spider surprises me, scuttles quickly toward me, or crawls on me, it’s very, very difficult for me not to squeal and act like an idiot. So, I’m sure the therapies work. If I can go, on my own, from hardly being able to bear the sight of a little spider to not minding them terribly, someone with professional assistance should be able to do even better.

marinelife's avatar

@YARNLADY Your spider senses are acute. Crabs are, in fact. sea-going spiders.

bumwithablackberry's avatar

I think you have to eat one. I did, now they keep following me wherever I go.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@bumwithablackberry: It doesn’t work! I did that as a kid and it didn’t help a bit.

tinyfaery's avatar

Why? Is there a spider? I’m outta here…

irocktheworld's avatar

SPIDERS are freaking scary! I’ll never get over them!!! :O :O :O

bumwithablackberry's avatar

Has anyone ever seen a cane spider? They have them in Hawaii. They can grow larger than your face and they can jump really fucking far. They will freak anyone out.

irocktheworld's avatar

@bumwithablackberry I know they’d freak me out!

filmfann's avatar

Have you seen posts of the camel spiders they have in Iraq? Check it out!

MissAusten's avatar

@filmfann Dude, camel spiders are freaky enough without the myths that have sprung up about them. This description is more accurate and also describes why the camel spiders in that infamous photo look so huge. That picture shows two of them, stuck together. Compare their size to the size of the sleeve of the soldier holding them, and you’ll see that they really aren’t as enormous as they first appear. Still, if I saw one I’d probably scream and collapse in a dead faint. Technically (because I like to be technical), camel spiders aren’t even spiders. They are solpugids.

People who live in the Southwest US probably see relatives of camel spiders, called sun spiders (also solpugids and not actually spiders). They look the same but are smaller. All of them are harmless. No venom at all. It’s rare for them to bite a human, but can do so if provoked or frightened. In that case the bite is said to be very painful, but not dangerous.

filmfann's avatar

solpugids or spiders, those things give me the willies.

Fernspider's avatar

When I was younger I used to feel irrationally afraid of spiders. One day I decided that they are smaller (much much smaller) than we are and ultimately the majority of them are harmless so therefore did not logically pose the same level of threat that I felt instinctively.

When I see them, I make a concious effort to put those facts into perspective and think “They are more scared of me, and I pose more threat to their life than vise versa so what am I actually afraid of?”

Seems to help. When I find that one has secretly crawled on to me….. I try not to take it personally ; ) * shudder *

YARNLADY's avatar

@Rachienz I’m glad it worked mostly for you, but the irrational part of it precludes ‘talking myself out of it’.

Fernspider's avatar

@YARNLADY LOL, this is true!

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