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How to Overcome a Fear of Spiders

Fear is a paralysing phenomenon – sometimes literally. According to the Medical Dictionary ,it is “the unpleasant emotional state consisting of psychological and psycho-physiological responses to a real external threat or danger, including agitation, alertness, tension, and mobilization of the alarm reaction.” In the case of arachnophobia, the distressing emotion is caused by eight-legged creatures – typically spiders, although the fear might extend to other arachnids like scorpions.

Arachnophobia can be an extreme reaction to the presence of spiders, but it can also include reactions to the mere image of these creatures. Sometimes, spider phobias can arise from unpleasant experiences with them, but this is not always the case. Since phobias are inherently psychological and subconscious, treating the root cause (not just the symptoms) can prove difficult.

Many persons are often not aware of the root cause of their phobia, making talk therapy ineffective as a means of overcoming the fear. Medication is not ideal for treating phobias, since they deal with symptoms (for example, anxiety) instead of the cause. Since phobias are formed by the association between a stimulus and emotional responses, the most effective way to treat fear of spiders would be by deactivating the psychological association between spiders and unpleasant circumstances. The techniques to overcome the fear of spiders can be applied independently or with the help of others.

♦ Self-help

Knowledge: It is important to understand arachnophobia and how severe your condition is before you can address it. Learning more about spiders themselves might be a great way to increase exposure and help your conscious, rational mind overpower the irrational, subconscious mind that drive the fear of spiders.

Challenging the phobia: For example, if you think that all spiders are poisonous or all spiders bite, it is useful to challenge these ideas, particularly with facts and knowledge.

Relaxation techniques: Fear of spiders, as other phobias, produce anxiety as a symptom. While relaxation techniques do not directly address the root cause, they can be a vital aid when confronting the fear of spiders.

♦ Exposure therapy or systematic desensitization

This form of therapy involves gradual exposure to spiders. Depending on the severity of the condition, images and representations can be utilized before actual encounters with the fear-producing object. If doing this on your own, it is recommended to have some moral support in the form of a friend or loved one. The presence of a therapist can also help with exposure therapy.

Other phobia treatments that can be utilized to treat fear of spiders include cognitive behavioral therapy and clinical hypnotherapy. Some cases of arachnophobia are more severe than others. In the simplest cases, cognitive behavioral therapy might be effective. However, where it manifests itself on a subconscious level, exposure therapy or clinical hypnotherapy might be more appropriate.