Arachnophobia: Overcoming Your Fear of Spiders
Arachnophobia is one of the most common fears (phobias) on the planet which affects as many as 73% of people in some Western societies.
Arachnophobia is an irrational fear of spiders which may result in a myriad of symptoms - different people usually respond differently. Some people may have panic attacks and/or start crying and others may scream whilst some people may feel paralyzed and too scared to move a muscle (frozen with fear). In extreme cases just images alone of spiders may cause panic.
Whilst many therapists sometimes resort to some form of 'exposure therapy' in order to treat arachnophobia this can often result in the phobia becoming exacerbated and actually getting worse instead of better, the reason for which will soon become clear. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and some medications are also other options which can help deal with fears and phobias, although I don't recommend them without trying the following techniques out first.
There are many techniques that you can carry out at home that can help you overcome your phobias. These techniques should be carried out for a short period of time at regular intervals in order to ensure they are effective. I would recommend using them once every two weeks for a period of three months, then allow another three months for the changes to take place.
Ultimately, you should be able to completely overcome your fear of spiders within six months in most cases. These techniques come from a form of applied psychology called NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) - a system which was designed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s.
If you decide you would like to attempt to utilize these techniques I suggest you do some further reading on the subject.
Your Phobia Cured
These techniques are simple psychology and are not magic, you will not notice a difference immediately. In fact, you may not notice a difference for quite a while.
However, as long as you use these techniques for the recommended amount of time your phobia of spiders should eventually slowly begin to fade away and one day you will be able to confidently confront a spider which won't bother you in the slightest.
If you have not noticed a change after using these techniques, try for a further six months. If you still haven't managed to overcome your fear of spiders then your phobia is probably quite extreme, you could decide to try another option such as hypnotherapy.
Studies into the cause of arachnophobia have, so far, proven to be inconclusive and the reason for this is because there is no tangible and scientific solid evidence - as is with Psychology in general.
What our fears and phobias ultimately result from is the way that we encode our past experiences in our mind due to our perception of external events (things that happen in the real world). We have a subconscious database where all of our past experiences are encoded and stored and most of these experiences are encoded in visual imagery.
Ultimately, our fear of spiders comes down to nothing more than perception of events and the way that those events have been stored in the mind. For this reason, if you can trace back to the earliest event you can remember whereby you saw a spider that really frightened you and may have even been the cause of your phobia, then this will be a massive advantage in using these techniques.
Personally, I have used these techniques to overcome most of my previous fears and phobias and given a chance they genuinely do work. I had traced my fear of spiders to an event which happened when I was about eight years old. I was in the bathroom and when I opened the door to come out a huge spider suddenly jumped right in front of me and it was so big that it made me jump. My sister, father and mother were all stood outside the bathroom waiting for me and upon the event happening they all cracked up with laughter - I have no idea to this day if it was a practical joke or if it was a real spider. However, the fact they all laughed hysterically which I found quite degrading as well as being scared and I ended up locking myself in the bathroom for over an hour.
The degradation factor combined with the fear factor most likely contributed to the development of my phobia of spiders. Despite my mother telling me that the spider had gone, I refused to come out of the bathroom.
Recoding The Experience
It's actually possible to change the way you emotionally respond to any past event simply by recoding the experience and to do so is relatively simple. This requires the use of mental imagery. Starting off with an image of the ugliest, scariest spider you can think of is a great start.
You need to clearly imagine and see this image in your mind, well defined and crystal clear. It needs to be in great detail, in colour and large and prominent. You then need to hold this image in your mind for a few minutes.
If you find it difficult to visualize you may choose to get someone you know to talk you through the process, they can then also help you visualize better by using descriptive words of the images you should be imagining.
Essentially, what the other person will be doing is helping you hypnotize yourself albeit at a very basic level.
After a few minutes, imagine that all the colour is slowly fading away from the image as it gradually turns black and white until after approximately one minute you are left with just a black and white picture of your original image. Hold this black and white image in your mind for a few minutes.
The next step is to very slowly and gradually zoom out on the image, so effectively you're seeing it slowly becoming smaller and smaller. Do this until the image reaches a size so small that it begins to blur slightly. Hold the miniaturized black and white image in your mind for a few minutes.
The final step is then to repeat this process all over again three of four times. You should do this once every two weeks for the next three months, then allow another three months for the changes to take effect. Essentially, what you are doing is changing the way that you respond to the information stored in the subconscious database of the mind whenever that information is accessed (ie upon seeing a spider).
If you have managed, as I did, to trace your fear back to a specific event (or maybe several events) then you should imagine seeing that event happen from a third person perspective. For this reason it's a good idea to imagine that you're sat in a cinema with the big screen in front of you and you will be watching the event as though it had been filmed - you are watching from the outside.
You should then play the movie from start to end a couple of times in full screen and full colour before applying the above techniques.