Rant/Discussion: Arachnophobia vs Fear

grimmjowls

Arachnoknight
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
205
I'm in a tarantula group elsewhere and I saw some people talking about how "arachnophobia is just a lack of understanding/ignorance/etc" and I felt like having a discussion on it and putting my two cents in for people who might not know the difference between arachnophobia and fear of spiders.

I, myself, am arachnophobic. I have been ever since I can remember. I don't know if it started as a fear and developed into a phobia or what happened, but I know it's now a phobia.

Phobias aren't just fears. They're disorders. They're not rational. You can't educate someone to get over their phobia like a fear. If they get over it, it's likely they never had a phobia to begin with.

People use the term phobia so loosely it's a little aggravating for the neurodivergent people of the world.

I have tarantulas. I keep true spiders when I find an interest in one. I like to watch them. I'm not uneducated. I spend hours on sites and groups, reading any sort of information I can get my hands on. I love to learn about them. But that doesn't make my phobia any less present.

Phobias aren't rational. When working with my Ts, it tends to kick up. I start thinking about the things the T might do (probably won't) and definitely will do (impossible). I expect my G. pulchripes to somehow jolt up my arm and bite me and run away before I can even blink. I know they're not that fast, but phobias aren't rational. I think the bite will swell up and just the idea of being bitten is terrifying—again, irrational phobia.

A fear can oftentimes be "cured" by showing the fearful individual how gentle these animals can be, show them a jumping spider, let them hold a docile tarantula. A phobia comes back always. It's often rooted in paranoia, delusions, and anxiety.

So I guess, this is sort of a rant, an open invitation to talk about fear vs phobias, talk about your experience, and educate people on how I experience my phobia? Sorry if it's a little messy...!
 

grimmjowls

Arachnoknight
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
205
Additionally, if anyone is persistently arachnophobic but loves their tarantulas and continues to keep them, please share your experience and know you're not the only one! I wouldn't give up my tarantulas for the world but it doesn't mean I don't have a phobia that includes them.
 

AphonopelmaTX

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2004
Messages
1,440
I've been curious on this topic since some people with arachnophobia can deal with tarantulas but not other spiders. Can you describe what your reaction is to non tarantula spiders and if you have an irrational fear of other arachnids such as scorpions or harvestmen? Also, to you personally, why do you think tarantulas wouldn't trigger a fear response but other spiders or arachnids would?
 

AphonopelmaTX

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2004
Messages
1,440
Sorry, you covered my question. If I understand correctly, all spiders can trigger that irrational fear but you have it under control enough to be able to work with them. Is that right?
 

Xafron

Arachnosquire
Joined
Apr 5, 2017
Messages
82
I just recently found out my coworker that I talk with a lot has arachnophobia. I knew she was afraid of spiders but a lot of people are "afraid of spiders" so I didn't really think much of it. I showed her a picture of my newly acquired T because I thought like most people she could at least appreciate the pretty colors or something along those lines, and she started shaking. Just talking about them was giving her anxiety.

She's the first person I've met who legitimately has a deep phobia of spiders, to the point where it impeded her ability to function normally.
 

grimmjowls

Arachnoknight
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
205
I've been curious on this topic since some people with arachnophobia can deal with tarantulas but not other spiders. Can you describe what your reaction is to non tarantula spiders and if you have an irrational fear of other arachnids such as scorpions or harvestmen? Also, to you personally, why do you think tarantulas wouldn't trigger a fear response but other spiders or arachnids would?
For me, I find the most unnerving part of arachnids are the eyes. If I can see the eyes, and if I notice them, it makes me very uncomfortable. Scorpions I'm okay with, but if I looked too closely I think I would quickly become unnerved. I've never owned one, unfortunately, so I don't know the extent of how my experience would be.

Harvestmen are a similar reaction to spiders, if not worse.

True spiders, I enjoy watching as long as they don't touch me.

In my experience and my guess, tarantulas are larger, and more "predictable" in my mind than a true spider, even though of course that's not quite true. Their legs are less spindly and they almost appear furry, almost in a non threatening fashion.
Don't get me wrong. Some nights when I'm having a hard time, I can't look at my Ts for too long. Or if I scroll the boards, seeing pictures, I oftentimes have to tell myself to close out of the tab for the night because I can feel myself becoming unnerved.

I'm not sure if this answered your question but I hope it offered some insight!

Also, before I forget. This is definitely probably specific to me, but our shower is in the basement, where I know they live and have seen cellar spiders down there. Some days I can take a shower fine, but some days (high stress triggers paranoia, cue me thinking they're near me when they're not, or when I couldn't possibly know if they are) I can't even finish my shower. This is where it's definitely a phobia, because it affects my life negatively. I generally can finish up later or the next day, but I've more than once felt so overwhelmed by this delusion that they're everywhere and I need to get away.
 

grimmjowls

Arachnoknight
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
205
Sorry, you covered my question. If I understand correctly, all spiders can trigger that irrational fear but you have it under control enough to be able to work with them. Is that right?
Most of the time, yes. But my mental state is usually tied to how much my phobia affects me at that moment or that day. If i'm tired and just had a fight with my partner, and work sucked, it's more likely I'm not going to spend any time on AB because I can't stand the pictures.
 

grimmjowls

Arachnoknight
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
205
I just recently found out my coworker that I talk with a lot has arachnophobia. I knew she was afraid of spiders but a lot of people are "afraid of spiders" so I didn't really think much of it. I showed her a picture of my newly acquired T because I thought like most people she could at least appreciate the pretty colors or something along those lines, and she started shaking. Just talking about them was giving her anxiety.

She's the first person I've met who legitimately has a deep phobia of spiders, to the point where it impeded her ability to function normally.
That's so unfortunate for her, I sympathize. A lot of mine is mental rather than physical. I get panicky, i feel things crawl on me, etc. I can't even touch pictures of spiders. If I have to, like to scroll, I'll touch on the background or wherever the spider isn't.
 

grimmjowls

Arachnoknight
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
205
I've noticed my phobia is more extreme with larger spiders without hair.

For example, this.
Trapdoor_spider1_2_foto.jpg
Not my photo.

Anyways, now I'm going to go delete that off my phone before I forget about it and panic when I accidentally stumble on it later.
 

louise f

Arachnoangel
Joined
Jul 8, 2012
Messages
936
I had phobia once i started out with T`s 9 years ago. My first was a G.rosea, back then i thought it was the meanest ugliest MF in the world, but almost 6 months later i found my dream spider i B.smithi. After getting that my Phobia was slowly getting away, and i just coudn`t get enough of those hairy things.
The thing i feared most about them was their giant fangs, ewww and their starry eyes. I started to tell myself dont concentrate on their big fangs and their eyes.
And it actually helped me get rid of my phobe.

According to me you can do what you want, when i think back today, I can`t stop laughing about how much of a chicken i was. :happy: I love my spiders, and they shall be with me as long as i live. Or at least till i can`t take care of them no more. <3
 

Nightstalker47

Arachnoking
Joined
Jul 2, 2016
Messages
2,613
I don't understand why someone who has an irrational fear of spiders would want to own any? Shouldn't you be trying to avoid them at all costs...

It's an odd predicament, if you had a phobia why would you want to acquire tarantulas? I think you are merely unsettled by some, but not quite arachnophobic. You say the word phobia is used to loosely, yet it seems that you may be doing just that, as you can tolerate being around your own Ts.

My friends mother had a phobia of snakes, and I remember her fainting at the sight of a garter snake slithering around. That's definitely an irrational fear, I'm not sure how you feel is the same. But only you can know that for certain...
 

D Sherlod

Arachnoknight
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Messages
222
To know the difference between a true phobia and an irrational fear you would have to be diagnosed by a professional.

Both are real both are debilitating.

One can be trained into controling the other is always there but coping mechanisms can be taught which helps deal with the symptoms.
 

Chris LXXIX

ArachnoGod
Joined
Dec 25, 2014
Messages
5,712
Ah... technically arachnophobia can be healed. There's a lot of levels involving the subject, but technically, can be healed.

Fear, well... it's another issue.

For instance, one of the thing I fear most is to remain without cents and cigarettes while I'm all alone at night, in an dark alley full of angry tramps ruined by the bankster economyc crysis. In general I run, and like a "Sasuke" ninja I throw cigs and cents to them left and right... but what if, all of a sudden, I ran out of those? :anxious:

Try to heal this fear :banghead:

:troll:
 

GreyPsyche

Arachnosquire
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
92
I think it's funny that me and my girlfriend keep tarantulas yet she freaks when a cute little jumping spider is hanging from the ceiling...LOL
 

Ungoliant

Malleus Aranearum
Staff member
Joined
Mar 7, 2012
Messages
3,884
Specific phobias like arachnophobia often respond well to exposure therapy. If your phobia is interfering with your life, and you have not already done so, I would consider finding a therapist who practices in that area.


I don't understand why someone who has an irrational fear of spiders would want to own any? Shouldn't you be trying to avoid them at all costs...
Some people get tarantulas as a sort of DIY exposure therapy to help them overcome their fear of spiders.

I think there is something about fear that either overlaps with fascination or can be converted into fascination. There are a lot of self-described former arachnophobes who are now arachnophiles.
 

sasker

Arachnoangel
Joined
Oct 9, 2016
Messages
794
My first was a G.rosea, back then i thought it was the meanest ugliest MF in the world,
Just to be on the same page: with MF you mean Mature Female, right? :D

I don't understand why someone who has an irrational fear of spiders would want to own any? Shouldn't you be trying to avoid them at all costs...
I disagree and I will tell you why. I have/had fear of spiders as well before getting my first tarantula. I have always been interested in nature and I collected animals from our garden since I was little. It drove my mother mad. I touched and grabbed any animal I could find, accept spiders because one bit me once. This experience caused a mild form of arachnophobia to present itself in me. I could look at them without freaking out, but having them on my person was something I really feared.

Still, like so many other animals, spiders are amazing and interesting and I did not want to miss out on them just because I had an irrational fear for them. I figured that I could only rid myself from this irrational fear by facing it. So I bought my first tarantula. My fear quickly disappeared and my tarantulas improved my life significantly.

Walking away from irrational fears (any fear) is not a solution. I think many people who keep tarantulas started keeping them to face their fear for spiders and deal with it.
 

cold blood

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
Messages
12,030
For me, I find the most unnerving part of arachnids are the eyes
For me it was the legs...I don't know if it was that I couldn't follow all of them or what...but they way they moved was a trigger. Never got close enough to see the eyes:)

I've noticed my phobia is more extreme with larger spiders without hair.
For me size didn't matter, to me they were all loaded guns capable of inflicting instant panic.

I don't understand why someone who has an irrational fear of spiders would want to own any?
Because a fear is just a fear...Phobia is irrational, as in you react in an uncontrolled and irrational and often embarrassing manner. I definitely recognized that my fear was irrational, because as a kid, I always liked feeding the local spiders.

A phobia can, IMO, only be gotten over if the person recognizes its irrationality, and if they genuinely want to change.
 
Top