Cure for Spider Phobia

Afraid of spider? You're not alone - arachnophobia or fear of spiders is very common (it's been estimated that more than half of women in the Western world are afraid of spiders to some degree).

But for some, spider phobia can be very severe and debilitating - but now, there's hope: researchers have found that a two-hour "exposure" therapy can "cure" the irrational fear of spiders by fundamentally changing the brain's fear response.

The catch? You have to hold a tarantula in your hand (Eek!):

"Before treatment, some of these participants wouldn't walk on grass for fear of spiders or would stay out of their home or dorm room for days if they thought a spider was present," said lead study author Katherina Hauner, postdoctoral fellow in neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement.

After a single therapy session lasting up to three hours, "they were able to walk right up and touch or hold a tarantula. And they could still touch it after six months," Hauner said.

Link (Illustration: W.W. Denslow for Little Miss Muffet/Wikipedia)

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Worked on me. One day I just decided that my fear was silly. I noticed that insects are the ones who seem fearless and spiteful (they aren't spiteful, but some actually do have an interest in harming us), while spiders always seem so terrified and timid. So I read about how rarely spiders bite, and how rare are any spiders whose bites are medically significant. It's funny how people refer to their "spider bites" when they never /saw/ a spider bite them. Then I started gently releasing them outside using my bare hands. Then I started occasionally handling them just to admire them. They are our friends.

I was even finally desensitized to (mild shudder) ticks recently when I a stay in the country had me removing several from my dog each day. They don't jump, and they can't just bite you at a second's notice. But I did notice an interesting thing: if you drop a large AMerican dog tick into the web of one of those wispy large house spiders, it will wrap the tick up and attempt to feed on it, but then give up and cut the tick loose. Also, you cannot drown a tick. I pulled a big one off of my dog while groggily drinking soy milk from the fridge at 3am and had no place to put it or way to kill it, so I dropped it into a bucket of water I had sitting there. The tick was alive at the bottom of the bucket a WEEK later. I later read that the point at which submersion kills 95% of ticks is 1.5 YEARS. Oh, and they can go 19 years without a meal... just waiting there in an empty cabin with those arms waving around. They are gross.
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Spend a couple of weeks camping or working in the woods and you get used to those little critters walking over you. I don't like it when one walks on me when I am in my house, but it's not traumatic like it was when I was a kid. I also went to a pet shop and held a tarantula in my hand and that helped too.
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...there is no way in hell I am going to hold a freakin' tarantula in my hand. And for the record, brown recluses bite. While I have been lucky enough to not get bitten, I have several friends who have, and the bites are nasty. If injected with venom, a brown recluse bite turns necrotic if not treated quickly. And no, just handling them won't cause them to bite, it's when they hide in your shoes and clothing that they will.

And yes, Daddy long-legs spiders do bite. My mother saw one bite her.

No, I do not like spiders. I do not like them at all. However, I do realize they are very beneficial and will leave them alone outside. But if one of those f***ers comes into my house, it's going to meet the bottom of my shoe.
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