What is Arachnaphobia?
Arachnophobia is a condition in which a person is afraid (phobia) of spiders (arachnids). The condition was popularized by a movie released in 1990 featuring a race of "super spiders".
Besides the inventions of Hollywood, people who have arachnophobia are often frightened by small, harmless house spiders. It has been theorized that because spiders are so different from other organisms in appearance (multiple legs, and eyes), that people are more easily frightened by spiders, than say, cows. It is also possible that a natural fear of spiders can be beneficial, as there are many spiders in nature that are poisonous, such as the famous Black Widow Spider.
Responses to arachnophobia can be extreme -- in some people it can lead to anxiety, panic, increased heart rate, and even nausea.
Treatment for Arachnophobia
A common treatment for arachnophobia is called "systematic desensitization." In this treatment (administered by a health care professional after an appropriate diagnosis), someone with arachnophobia can be subjected to a series of pictures or videos to build up a tolerance over time. After this initial exposure, and an appropriate comfort level has been established, a person may be exposed to real spiders to help to build up a greater tolerance.
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