Conquer fear of spiders, snakes and other phobias – Loveland Reporter-Herald


Snakes send chills through a lot of people, but those chills can be much more severe in some people. A few people, however, find snakes to be so fascinating that they suffer no chills at all. Many people just disregard snakes and by ignoring them experience no particular feelings of any kind.

These differences suggest that no universal relationship exists between snakes and people. How a person connects or disconnects with snakes is a specifically individual response.

But people who suffer no problems with snakes might nevertheless experience apprehensions about other wildlife. Could be spiders. Maybe toads. Wasps. Bats.

Apprehension regularly accompanies unfamiliar circumstances that present some degree of uncertainty. Slightly elevated in the intensity of uncertainty, apprehension becomes fear. Extreme elevation of fear can become phobia.

Fear represents a blending of intellect and emotion that serves to protect us from danger. When the emotion element skyrockets and the intellect element plunges, fear escalates irrationally to a point of degrading quality of life but doing so without improving survival.

This escalation of fear becomes a phobia.

Just as we have terms for various phobic-level fears of things such as agoraphobia, claustrophobia and hydrophobia — among many others — we have specific terms for dozens if not well more than 100 wildlife-related phobias.

•Anthrophobia: fear of flowers.

•Arachnophobia: fear of spiders.

•Batrachophobia: fear of toads.

•Murophobia: fear of mice.

•Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes.

And so the list progresses. Everything from bacteria in specific and germs in general to birds and fishes, ferns and trees, mushrooms and wasps and worms — each wildlife group can irrationally inflate the emotion component of fear to a level that can disable someone.

This topic bears specific meaning in my life because I spent my childhood years into early adulthood years suffering two specific phobias: arachnophobia (spiders) and nyctophobia (night).

In my early backpacking years, I would build two small fires so I could sit between them as a way to calm my fear of night’s darkness. I think the calming effect resulted simply from the effort to do something rather than merely trying to shrug-off the fear.

My love of owls pulled me into the night, and I finally understood that Darkness was not a demon tormenting me but an angel inviting me into fully one half of my lifetime.

My fascination for symbiosis pulled me into the world of spiders. No more flushing them down the toilet!

As a naturalist, you must learn how to control fear so that fear does not control you.

nature talk

Monthly nature programs at Loveland Public Library have returned to the Gertrude Scott Room but will also be available by Zoom. Check the library’s website to access the Zoom link. The program — “The Fear” — will be Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 10 am The free program sponsored by Friends of the Loveland Library will explore some wildlife phobias and offer a meaningful and productive way to level the intellect-and-emotion balance of fear.

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