Helpless as we sleep, the thought of little creepy crawlers sliming their way across our skin until they find the juiciest spot to dig their fangs into our flesh gives even the strongest person the heebie-jeebies. We don't like to think about it, but we know it happens. Also, everyone's heard the rumor that we all eat spiders in our sleep. Some say eight in a lifetime, some say four, and some say six per year. We may never know how many fat little abdomens we've swallowed. As gross as that sounds, most of us aren't worried enough to stay up all night, or fashion screens to go over our mouths while we sleep to avoid eight legs of extra protein.
For some people, the fear of spiders is the strongest feeling they experience. When I was a kid, I always had a Daddy Long Leg crawling around on me. To some one with Arachnophobia, just the thought of a spider sends them into a sweat. Even being in a place where there may be a spider can freak out a person suffering from this phobia. Sparing no expense on spider killing spray and window goop, arachnophobes go to great lengths to de-spider their living space. If they come in contact with a spider, a full on panic attack ensues. Most are paralyzed with fear, but some even complain of chest pain, shortness of breath, shaking, uncontrolled sweating, nausea, and diarrhea.
Are spiders so bad? Not all of them. Most of us know spiders are integral parts of our eco-system. My mom used to tell me, "They eat the bad bugs," as she caught one in a jar to throw it outside. Yes, I'm sure we eat some, and some bite us, but for the most part, they aren't harmful. Sure, some will make you sick, and some are deadly, but stay out of the jungle, and things will be fine. Spiders are nature's pest control.
How do you explain this to an arachnophobe? You can't. More than likely, they've experienced a traumatic event with a spider as a tiny kid, or watched the film Arachnophobia over your shoulder when they were supposed to be in bed. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General says we have it genetically encoded from our ancestors surviving in the wild through fear. Either way, with therapy, your arachnid fearing friend can live a life free of terror from our little eight-legged exterminators.
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