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Reasons Not to be Afraid of Spiders
Arachnophobia and How To Conquer It
Many people are fearful of spiders, myself included. As a child, it didn't occur to me to try to overcome my fear, it was much easier and more satisfying to run to my parents crying until they took care of the problem. As I got older, my life was such that I didn't come across spiders very often, and when I did, as the mother, it was my job to take care of the creature for my son. I would fake fearlessness and lash out with a shoe, eyes closed, hoping for a good aim. For awhile arachnids and I lived in peace, I left them alone unless they were in my house; then I would smash them and scoop them up with a dustpan, dump the body in the toilet and flush. I thought I was doing really well, but then we moved south.
Since it doesn't get very cold in the south, insects and arachnids can grow quite a bit larger than their northern relatives. Waking up one leisurely morning, my significant other said "look what's in here with us." My head turned towards where he was pointing, and there on the wall near the ceiling was a spider with a legspan larger than my hand. My leisurely morning ended, I hopped gingerly out of bed and flailed down the hallway to the furthest room in the house away from the bedroom, naturally looking on the walls for more gigantic spiders. I sat down at my desk and instinctively wouldn't put my feet on the floor for about 45 minutes. My heroic partner disposed of the spider with a tea pitcher and lid (of which I will now have to purchase a new one, I can't imagine using that one again with spider residue in it.).
So now here I sit in the middle of a steamy Florida forest, surrounded, I am sure, by gigantic spiders. This is where I was planning to spend the next 20 years or so of my life, but now? Do I want to spend it in fear that I might stumble across another arachnid? I can always call for help and, despite some ridicule, I'm sure my hero will once again come to the rescue.
However, for some reason, I am not satisfied to just let someone else take care of the problem now the way I was as a child. Somewhere along the line, I decided I like to feel somewhat in control of myself and my life, and I had a very uncomfortable awakening when that larger than hand spider intruded into my bedroom. Being that afraid is not being in control, and I don't want to spend the rest of my life worrying that I might open my eyes and see one on the ceiling above me and feel the urgent need to flee for my safety.
That being said, I decided to take matters into my own hands and to face my fear head on, and to look at my reactions logically instead of emotionally. I have been researching reasons to not be so terribly fearful of spiders, and I hope that by actually thinking instead of just instinctively reacting, the debilitating fear can be overcome and therefore controlled.
Even though some spiders do get quite large, they are still hundreds of times smaller than a normal sized adult. Logically, aside from a few venomous species such as the black widow and brown recuse, most spiders are harmless to humans simply because of their smaller size. If bitten by a typical spider, the bite would hurt less than a normal bee sting.
While spiders are quite scary looking, what with all of those legs and eyes, many of them actually prey upon insects that are more dangerous to humans, such as cockroaches and flies, two extremely pesky insect varieties that are a nuisance as well as carry disease. When I looked up the scary hand sized spider I found out that he was a huntsman spider and that he loves to eat cockroaches and moths. Not humans….
Contrary to what it may seem like to an arachnophobic, spiders do not seek out humans and attack them. If a spider is in somebody’s personal space, it is more than likely just trying to find a snack, and the little guy is going to be terribly afraid when the person starts screaming and whacking at it with a newspaper. It is running to try and get away and hide, not trying to jump on the human and attack.
Looking at spiders from a more logical perspective makes them, in theory, less frightening. Putting that logical perspective to good use and learning to be less sensitive when a spider is around is what is going to be useful in overcoming the fear. Psychologists call this “desensitizing” and use it in therapy. The basic premise is to start slowly introducing the fearful object to the patient in steps, such as looking at a picture of the spider until the frightened behavior is lessened, then working up to having an actual spider in the room. Eventually this technique should work in helping an individual overcome the fear.
To desensitize without a therapist, start reading more about spiders on the internet or in books. Learning about them and understanding them can go a long way to reducing the fear. The next time a small spider is near you, observe it for a bit, then, if it is outside and not harming anything, walk away. If it is inside, use a piece of junk mail or something to pick it up and place it outside. Continue doing this every time a spider is around, and eventually, with patience and persistance, it will be second nature to walk away if the creature is in its natural habitat, or to relocate the arachnid without fear if it is violating your personal space. Good luck!