When Your Fear of Spiders Makes It Hard To Even Watch TV
For most of my life, I’ve been a massive fan of the UK sci-fi television show, ‘Doctor Who’. While it may be a topic for another day, even the thought of the central character, The Doctor, being able to change who it is without losing the memories or the experiences of the previous incarnation can often be a wonderful metaphor for life itself. I did tend to wonder though just how many people were going to watch this week’s episode when they say the title ‘Arachnids In The Uk’ come up on the screen.
The Doctor and Spiders
Now, this isn’t the first time that Doctor Who has had spiders in the show. In fact, Doctor Who has helped science in their research of spider phobias in the past!
The Third Doctor lost his life due to a giant spider and the Tenth Doctor also came up against arachnid lifeforms from another planet. The differences between those experiences and this latest episode though are fairly obvious. The effects that were available back in the mid-70s when the Third Doctor’s ‘Planet Of The Spiders’ aired was pretty basic, to say the least, and wouldn’t scare anyone nowadays. With the Tenth Doctor, the ‘arachnid’ in question was a hybrid of spider and humanoid, so it would’ve made it difficult again for people who suffer from Arachnophobia to fully feel it.
This time, however, the CGI effects were realistic enough that even I, someone who doesn’t have Arachnophobia, could feel my skin crawl and the storyline itself, complete with the many facts about just how many spiders do exist in the world, would’ve been enough to ensure anyone who did have an intense fear of spiders would be reaching for the remote control and changing the channel. I could imagine that there are a handful of Doctor Who die-hard fans who may just admit that this might be one such episode that they could not watch in entirety, if at all.
Living with Arachnophobia
If you know anyone who has a true phobia of spiders and who lives with Arachnophobia, you will know just how intensely difficult it is for them.
In one instance I know, you can not say the word ‘spider’ to them, let alone show them any pictures. The result would be a scream and immediately living the room. While some may think this could provide a never-ending source of practical joke amusement for them, the reality is that it can be extremely distressing for the person and even the sight of a cobweb will ensure that they will not go anywhere near that space.
This is why during Halloween, people who suffer from Arachnophobia experience a very distressing time even going to get their supermarket groceries. The supermarkets are literally ‘decorated’ in spider webs and images of spiders, and even the suggestion of a spider will be enough for that person to go into panic mode and feel that they’re under attack.
What is a Phobia
A phobia is essentially an extreme or irrational fear or aversion to something. Now, I think we can all agree that spiders look creepy. We can normalize the experience and say that many of us do not like to go near spiders, and fear that we may be bitten by them. When that fear becomes all consuming though and you find that you’re unable to go into certain spaces or react with such intensity, then you know that you’re dealing with a phobia. When it stops you from doing something or going somewhere, limiting the enjoyment that you can have out of life or simply accomplishing things like getting food for the week, then you know that it has become something that you may wish to work on and deal with.
How to Deal with a Phobia
A phobia is an anxiety response and so, therefore, you need to be able to learn how to quieten the mind and reclaim control. As there is a mind-body connection, deep breathing exercises can help reduce the anxiety felt in the body and allow the mind to naturally follow. Additionally, mindfulness techniques can help to train the mind on what distraction it is going to focus on, helping to build stronger control against the ingrained ‘fight or flight’ response that the phobia triggers.
The experience around when the phobia was created also needs to be dealt with, and this can be done through a few techniques. In the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy world, they will introduce to you something known as exposure therapy, which is where they slowly introduce you to the fear in small doses so that you can recognize that there is no danger or threat and begin to reduce the anxiety levels that you’ve associated with that trigger object.
In hypnotherapy, there are a few different techniques that can be used as well which have surprisingly effective results. Based on a technique from the world of NLP, the Fast Phobia process can help people to desensitize themselves from that initial sensitizing event and to reframe it with new resources and insights. In some cases, it is also important to realize that the initial sensitizing event may not even be directly related to the phobia itself; it may be indirectly related but was created in the process. Keep in mind that phobias have been often created in a handful of seconds; just because you’ve lived with it for so long, doesn’t mean that it can’t be dismantled in a similar amount of time.
Help Me Get Rid of My Phobia
If you have a phobia that you feel has controlled you for far too long and you wish to take back control, then you can contact me and make a time for a FREE half hour consultation to discuss your phobia and what you can do to release yourself from it. International and Interstate requests can be done over Zoom conferencing, so please feel free to reach out as well.