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troubleinharlem's avatar

How can I get over my severe fear of owls?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7981points) March 18th, 2010

I’m extremely afraid of owls… its mostly the eyes – I’ve had dreams about them, I’ve seen a huge snowy white owl at night coming through the fog… they just terrify me.

How can I get over this? =/ It’s kind of embarrassing…

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33 Answers

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wundayatta's avatar

Have you ever actually seen an owl in the wild? If so, what were the circumstances?

edmann13's avatar

Move where there are no owls. They’re pretty rare anyways. Out of sight, out of mind.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Well,know that you are too big for them to carry off!
Maybe read alittle about them and once you understand more,it might not be so bad for you :) I see Great Horned owls once in awhile and they are fascinating.
I think they are beautiful :)

lillycoyote's avatar

Oh come on! How cute are these guys? You might want to make regular visits to your local zoo, or aviary or whatever kind of place that has owls in your local area and just visit them, under controlled circumstanced, where they can’t do whatever it is you’re afraid they will do. Owls are really very cool, and it would be wonderful if you could get over your fear so you could be able to really appreciate what extraordinary creatures they are. Good luck!

Jude's avatar

I’m sorry that you have this fear. And, I’m sorry, but, I can’t help. :(

I love owls.

mollypop51797's avatar

Is it just owls, or birds with big eyes? If you know more about them, or if you get used to them, they won’t be as scary. This is definitely a fear that can be overcome! As weird as this may sound, I like to think of the ring of fur on their head (more around the eyes) as eyebrows. The picture that @lillycoyote shared (whether you want to open it or not) is an example of what I’m talking about. It looks like they have eyebrows. It’s cute. (to me)

phillis's avatar

It has always worked very well for me if I put a face on my demons before I tried defeating them. Get to know about owls. If you have a problem even looking at the pictures, then only look at one, to start with. Or, look at pictures of baby owls, first! Do a lot of reading about them. Come to understand what they are about and how they work. Learn thier mating habits, and how they choose a mate. And too, understand that you never have to LIKE them, if you don’t want to. You will always be allowed to feel the same as you do now.

This process is called “desensitization”. Take your time with it. There’s no hurry! But DO IT. Because if you don’t, you’ve allowed a fear of yours to kick your ass, which is way worse than the fear, itself.

lfino's avatar

Do you come in contact with a lot of owls? I know I’m not really the outdoorsy type, but I can’t recall even seeing an owl. I’ve heard them, but I guess I don’t go seek them out.

ChaosCross's avatar

Walk up to an owl
Punch owl in face and then stare him in his enormous eyes


HTDC's avatar

Get a stuffed owl, buy owl bed sheets, read owl books, listen to Owl City. Stuff like that.

gailcalled's avatar

Here’s the Northern Pigmy Owl. He’s pretty cute, (scroll down to second picture) as is the Saw whet Owl who is 7” tall.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I can sympathize with the phobia—I have some of my own—but really, having a bird of that size flying right at you at night out of nowhere could frighten anyone. Does it disable you in some way? Keep you inside at night when you’d rather be out, for example?

lillycoyote's avatar

And remember, Owl is a valued friend to all To Pooh, and Piglet and Tigger, even though he seems to have Tigger’s tail….

gailcalled's avatar

@lillycoyote: My friends call me Wol, if you please.

Adagio's avatar

Bet you’re ever so pleased you were never asked to try out for the part of Harry Potter… oh you were, really… pardon me… bet you’re ever so pleased you did not get the part of Harry Potter… oh you did… I can see why you are asking this question then Daniel.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Figure out what scares you about them at the deeper level (not how they look).

In addition to that you can educate yourself about owls. Or you can try slowly introducing them into your life. You may start by forcing yourself to briefly look at a picture of one, then posting a picture in your room, they watching a documentary on them, then visiting them at a local zoo/raptor center/aviary.

Coloma's avatar

I am sure you could take this issue to a professional, I know that overcoming phobias is all about gradual desensitizing…start with pictures, owl sounds, a trip to the zoo, then…? Leave you alone in the woods dressed as a Squirrel? lololol

YoH's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I’ve lived in my natural setting for 35 years and have experienced many visiting owls. At night and during the day,we’ve seen screech owls,barn owls,and horned owls. There has never been owl to human contact. They are interested in capturing a rabbit or poultry to eat. More often than not,they carry their prey away. Because I out weigh rabbits and poutry,I have no fear of an owl being interested in me.

lillycoyote's avatar

@gailcalled Sorry, I didn’t want to confuse the question. :)

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@YoH well, I know that, and I’d bet that even the OP knows that “analytically”. But phobias don’t get reasoned away. That might help sometimes, but if the person with a phobia could rationalize the entire situation and have that stick, then there wouldn’t be a phobia. I know this already.

And even though my phobias don’t involve owls, I’ve had one fly in front of my car on a dark night, and a big one is pretty awe-inspiring. I would be a bit shaken to see one flying “at me” even if I knew it wasn’t likely to attack.

YoH's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I know phobias can’t be reasoned with. I’ve never favored big birds until I adopted a big parrot to face my own fears. Now I try (maybe too hard), to reassure people who have bird fears.

Buttonstc's avatar

Other than dreams, I’m guessing they aren’t a part of your life on any regular basis.

Depending upon how much this bothers you, there are two basic options.

The first is to find a therapist skilled in the treatment of phobias. You want a behaviorist not a Freudian-type analyst. A good behaviorist can most likely take you through a set of controlled exercises and the entire process should be finished in 3 or 4 months. This is the expensive option.

The DIY option involves what others have mentioned. It essentially what the therapist will take you through. It’s called progressive desensitization.

The key word here is PROGRESSIVE. the process gets broken down into very small gradual steps.

This way it doesn’t become overwhelming. But if you’re doing it yourself, you need to do enough research to fully understand the technique and be able to implement it.

You should also get a book called “The Relaxation Response”.

It teaches you how to effectively train your body to this response. It is incompatible with fear and panic, the feelings that your phobia evokes. These two different body states cannot exist simultaneously.

Before you do any gradual exposures to owls, you spend about 20 mins. to half hour relaxing you body (this is a PHYSICAL process which the book teaches you) and then proceeding from there.

It sounds kind of mechanical and maybe even boring, but it works.

DIY is obviously more difficult because it requires knowing how to break the exposures down into small enough increments. You’ll need to read a lot to figure that out as it is the key.

That’s why most people do this with the help of a therapist. I went through the entire process with a Psych resident who wanted the practice and he was literally going right straight out of the book. All of what I described above is what my experience involved, including the relaxation book and exercises.

But I seriously doubt that I would have been able to know how to create the “fear hierarchy” list or to subsequently break it down into manageable steps.

That’s it in a nutshell.

If you have trouble affording a regular therapist, perhaps there is a sliding scale clinic in your area. Or perhaps there’s another Psych resident in need of someone to practice on.

If you choose to DIY it will require a lot of determination and discipline (as well as research) to do this, but it can certainly be done if your motivation is strong.

Pandora's avatar

This is kind of amusing because I have fear of two things with very small eyes. Roaches and rats. An Owl would be my friend if I ever saw a rat. I look at them this way. They eat what I can’t stand.
Wish I new how to help you. But I freak out at roaches.

Nullo's avatar

Owls do look pretty freaky.
My advice: look for pictures of the goofiest-looking owl (I suggest the burrowing owl) in the world, or maybe one with its eyes closed, find a good one, and set it as your wallpaper. Once you’ve acclimated, find one that’s a bit less goofy, and do the same thing. Look up barn owls now and then (or save this .gif) and use your reaction to gauge your progress.
Contact with real owls, if you can manage it, would also be good.

Nullo's avatar

Here is a picture of an owl that was shot in such a way that it look more like a normal bird.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

There are effective treatments for phobias that don’t take a long time to be effective. The techniques are easy to understand but they are not self-help treatments because a person with phobias tends to avoid the feared object at nearly all costs.

The treatment involves gradually increasing levels of guided exposure while following therapist directions.

If you want to overcome this, you need to seek the help of a trained clinician such as a clinical psychologist.

trailsillustrated's avatar

go see encounters of the 4th kind

gailcalled's avatar

I, personally, would love to see one of the large nocturnal owls. I hear their calls in the woods at night and occasionally the loud but mercifully short death throes of a rabbit, but never spotted one.

missjowl's avatar

I also have a fear of them do don’t worry your not alone in this fear I know we can get through it it just takes some time

gailcalled's avatar

^^ I am more terrified of run-on sentences.

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