The thought of arachnophobia explained after watching the classic movie last night. It really got me thinking as the spider season creeps on us. So Why Are Humans Scared Of Spiders and what can we do to combat that fear. We all know that spider phobia is one of the most common phobias worldwide, but why? Have we evolved like this? Is it genetics?
In the UK, the beginning of September heralds the start of ‘Spider Season,’ the period when spiders seek shelter indoors to mate as the weather cools. About the first week of October, spider season comes to an end.
Spider season is the worst time of year for many people around the world, with arachnophobia (the fear of spiders) being one of the most common phobias in the UK.
But why are spiders so feared by so many humans? All you need to remember is right here.
So… Why Are Humans Scared Of Spiders? A Variety Of Reasons
Fear of spiders, according to Professor Dr Marcel van den Hout of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, is a “evolutionary hangover.”
“Our forefathers were less likely to die young if they soon realised that spiders (or snakes) might be dangerous and avoided them out of fear,” says Professor van den Hout.
“This increased their ‘reproductive performance,’ meaning they were more likely to have offspring.”
If all of the offspring came from people who were afraid of spiders, the offspring retained the fear of spiders as well.
“Our DNA is very similar to that of hunter-gatherer Homo sapiens, which explains why we have such a fear of spiders today,” says the professor.
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Is it true that we are born with a fear of spiders?
Researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute and Sweden’s Uppsala University have also attempted to determine if spider phobia is something we practise or something we are born with.
Since babies are the least likely to show fear, the researchers decided to perform the analysis on them.
The babies in the study were shown a variety of photographs, and their responses were analysed by the researchers.
The authors of the research, which was published in Frontiers in Psychology, demonstrate that when infants were shown images of snakes and spiders, their pupils dilated more than when they were shown images of flowers and fish.
This means that a fear of these creatures can be inherited.
The study states, “These findings speak to the presence of an evolved system that prepares humans to develop particular fears of ancestral threats.”
Why are some people unconcerned with spiders?
However, there are people all over the world who aren’t afraid of spiders, and some even enjoy them and keep them as pets – how is this possible if we’re all born with it?
However, not all studies have shown that a fear of spiders is inherited.
According to a study published in Current Directors in Psychosocial Science, seven-month-old babies detected snake images more easily but showed no signs of terror. This suggests that children do not have an inherent fear of these creatures, but simply have a better ability to recognise them.
Stefanie Hoehl, the study’s lead researcher, believes that social learning is to blame for some of the anxiety.
According to Hoehl, parental encouragement plays a major role in how much fear develops, so having a parent who is afraid of spiders will cause their children to be afraid of spiders as well.
A fear of spiders may be the result of a number of causes, including a “evolutionary hangover,” as Professor van den Hout describes it, acquired fear from family and friends, or negative personal experiences.
What should I do to get over my fear of spiders?
In 2013, Paul Siegel and his colleague Richard Warren from the State University of New York published a study that helped participants overcome their fear of spiders.
The researchers discovered that brief exposure to photographs of spiders decreased the anxiety of participants who were afraid of them.
“Very brief exposure to photos of spiders decreased the fearful group’s perception of fear at the end of the behavioural avoidance test, but not the non-fearful group’s,” according to the report.
Exposure to spiders in a controlled environment can thus help people overcome their fear of them.
“Patients subjected to optimistic media interpretations of spiders (in this case, “Spider-Man” movies) decreased their fears, according to a 2019 report on arachnophobia,” according to Healthline.
“While Spider-Man might not be able to help you overcome your arachnophobia, seeing spiders in such a positive light might be a good start.”
Specific phobias, such as a fear of spiders, can be treated with a range of therapies, including counselling, according to Healthline.
While there is no cure for arachnophobia, there are several drugs that can help if spiders give you severe anxiety in your daily life.
According to Healthline, if your spider phobia is severely affecting your life, such as stopping you from going outside, preventing you from having work done, or affecting your social life, you should consider seeing a specialist for support.
“You may want to talk to a psychotherapist about your spider phobias.
According to Healthline, “one-on-one talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and group therapy are also potential counselling methods for phobias.”
What is the most effective way to keep spiders away from your home?
Here are a few pointers to help you keep your home as spider-free as possible:
- Vacuuming and dusting on a daily basis can keep your home tidy and airy.
- Allow plenty of natural light into your home and stop closing the blinds or curtains during the day or for long periods of time – spiders prefer dim, hidden spaces.
- Invest in essential oils – strong scents repel spiders, so tea tree, rose, citrus, peppermint, and lavender are all effective.
- Use a caulking gun to seal any cracks that might cause a spider to enter your home or use it as a hiding place – spider access points include walls, floors, and ceilings.
Definition of Arachnophobia
Arachnophobia is derived from “arachne,” the Greek word for spider, and “phobos,” the Greek word for fear. This irrational fear of spiders and other eight-legged arachnids (such as scorpions) may be an evolutionary response: spiders, especially poisonous spiders, have long been associated with illness and infection.
He says, “We know many species of spiders are poisonous and bite, and we know this from direct experience, research, genetics, television, and watching other people get bitten.” “A normal reaction to seeing a spider near us is to feel fear and avoid the spider.”
The fear of spiders elicits a “disgust reaction” in many people. People who suffer from serious arachnophobia have such a strong fear of spiders that they might be afraid to go into their basement or garage for fear of seeing one. If they come across a spider, they can decide to leave rather than deal with it.
“We know our fear of spiders has become unfounded when it prevents us from engaging in things that we want or need to do, or expresses itself in such a way that it can be physically and mentally debilitating,” Dr. Manavitz says.
Causes of Arachnophobia
Arachnophobia, like other phobias, can grow in an individual as a result of seeing other people’s reactions to spiders. It’s a learned reaction for them—it sticks with them when they see a family member shriek in fear and flee the house at the sight of a cobweb. Some experts believe that one’s cultural context influences one’s fear of spiders. Big spiders are feared in some parts of Africa, but in South Africa, where spiders are eaten, people may be unafraid of them.
If you’ve ever had a painful encounter with a spider, such as a spider bite, you’re more likely to develop arachnophobia.
Symptoms of Arachnophobia
Arachnophobia symptoms can first occur in childhood or adolescence. Adults may also be affected by it. Typical signs and symptoms include:
- Trembling and sweating
- Feelings of losing control
- Rapid heart rate
- Hot or cold flashes
- Chest pain
- Feeling of choking
- Nausea or other gastrointestinal distress
Arachnophobia is also treated with a combination of therapy and medicine. Meditation and other relaxation methods can also aid with arachnophobia treatment.
Arachnophobia may be treated with exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, much like other phobias (CBT). The therapist in cognitive behavioural therapy attempts to replace the negative automatic feelings about spiders with more logical ones. To treat arachnophobia, a therapist can use systemic desensitisation. Dr. Manavitz says, “This is the practise of studying coping strategies and then facing our fears in order of what we fear the least and what we fear the most.”
With cognitive reframing, a person can learn to adjust her perception of spiders so that they are no longer repulsive and threatening. A person’s physical response to seeing a spider will eventually be changed.
Dr. Manavitz says that an antidepressant or anti-anxiety drug can be prescribed to help with arachnophobia. Arachnophobia sufferers may benefit from virtual reality therapy, which exposes them to virtual representations of spiders. According to some studies, this method may be just as successful as the older method of gradually exposing the individual to live spiders.
Overcome Your Fear
Learn all you can about spiders. They rarely bite people unless they are attacked, as you can discover. A spider bite can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Although certain spider bites, such as those from the venomous black widow and the brown recluse spider, can be deadly, the majority of spider bites are not.
Remember that spiders, like the dreaded black widow and brown recluse, can bite in self-defense if they get stuck between your skin and another item. You should also be aware that, despite the fact that there are over 63,000 species of spiders on the planet, only 2% of them are harmful.
Keep spiders out: store firewood outside to prevent spiders from entering the home. Install tight-fitting screens on your doors and windows, and close any holes that spiders might use to get in. Make sure there are no rocks or lumber near your home, as spiders like to congregate in these places. Make sure there are no spider webs in your attic or basement.
Talk to your loved ones about your fear of spiders and let them know you’re getting help for it. Request a referral from your doctor for a specialist who can assist you in overcoming your arachnophobia.