Tarantulas for overcoming arachnophobia

CarbonBasedLifeform

Arachnosquire
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I have read about people getting into the hobby as a way of facing their fears of spiders. Has anyone here gone through this type of tarantula therapy?

I ask because I have a good collection of Ts, scorps, and just beginning a centipede collection, and my girlfriend has nightmares about all of them. I love my Ts and she respects that (we're on the same level due to the fact that she has rats, another misunderstood creature) but she is still afraid.

I have started with the idea of curiosity being the opposite of fear, so when there is something interesting like a molt, weird behavior, active burrowing, or webbing, I'll share with her and she'll watch it with me. She seems to enjoy the webbing the most so I find she will get the most out of watching the P murinus or C cyaneopubescens. She has admitted that the A diversipes is pretty and picked the N chromatus as her favorite, so there is some hope.

I also bought a red phase G rosea sling that I have named as her spider (that I will take care of for her), since it is a pink spiderling. She said it was cute and gave it the name Magenta.

I don't like handling my Ts unnecessarily, but I know which ones I can take out and how they generally react. I haven't tried to take them out around her yet out of respect for her fear, but eventually it may be a good step for her. My main concerns here are the unexpected... I dont want a dead T.. also even the most docile Ts can bite, which would ruin any progress with this therapy.

We're also a step in the right direction concerning spiders in the house. She stopped killing them after a drunken conversation (I don't remember at all) where I was sad about the spiders just trying to make a living in our house after a hard day of work helping us get rid of pest bugs only to have us squish them lol

So anyway, tldr, my gf has arachnophobia and I have a T collection. Progress is being made, but there is still a long way to go. Any advice? Any experiences with T therapy?
 

Ellenantula

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Sep 14, 2014
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Arachnophobia can be crippling and hard to overcome. And it has to be the phobic's own decision to deal with it. Nothing is more irritating than someone trying to reason with you when you have a phobia.

I began by catching random small spiders in the house and releasing them outside before I finally decided to get a T. And understand, catching those spiders meant screaming 'oh my god oh my god oh my god" until caught spider was safely outside. But if anyone in any way had tried to force me to face a spider before I was ready, I would have been very upset and disturbed. Who doesn't remember recess in 3rd grade where some boy catches some spider & waves it around, especially in the direction of screaming girls? SO not funny.

It has to be the arachnophobic's own idea to work through their fear. You can't heal someone against their will. I do live in a place where there is almost always a spider somewhere in the house so I was living in fear and made the decision I simply had to get over this irrational fear because it was ruining my life. If today I suddenly saw a strange spider scurrying across my floor -- I would feel a few seconds of panic before I talked myself down, and acknowledged I simply needed to 'deal' with him. That could be cupping and putting him outside, or, on a good day, deciding he meant no harm and just let him wander wherever he wanted. I mean, they do catch bugs! My phobia was never from ignorance -- in theory I completely understood how beneficial spiders were and how unlikely it was one would harm me. But the phobia is irrational that even knowing that -- it still starts a panic to suddenly see an unknown spider in my home.

But Ts are different from regular spiders. I chose my Ts. Ts are considered pets by many -- my Ts simply don't bring out the same alarm as regular spiders. I have held one of my Ts -- light as a feather on the palm of my hand. An adult T is likened in my mind to a hamster or something - a pet.
But an unknown spider -- that's not a pet -- it brings with it the fear of the unknown. I am leery to state arachnophobia can be cured by exposure to tarantulas.
So, I am still not cured, I just cope better.
 

KezyGLA

Arachnoking
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Apr 8, 2016
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I used to be completely arachnophobic before meeting a good friend who bred Ts. He gave me a 0.5cm G. porteri and my interest grew and grew. Now I have owned many species and no longer fear arachnids, I only have one phobia.

This hobby is rewarding in many different ways, the responsibility of keeping these creatures and seeing them grow is the best bit. I find it somewhat calming and helps with my anxiety. The display species make great additions to a home... I could go on.

The term "The more you know, the less you fear" could not be more true.

There is a wonderful app for iphone called 'Scary Spiders' that got my gf over the fear of spiders and now she works with me on mine.. She even has a couple herself. The app had lots of useful information and is great for letting my nephews and nieces play with and get to know these amazing spiders.

You will find many a hobbyist that started out arachnophobic.
 

cold blood

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For me it was the near total lack of activity that eased me past my arachnophobia....G. porteri

Arachnophobes don't want to handle, they also don't want fast or sporadic behavior. The very thing that makes them a bad beginner for most, makes them ideal for arachnophobes....that's inactivity.

potatoes just can't stay scary for too long. I mean, I took this pic 5 days ago and she's still in the same spot/position.
 

Chris LXXIX

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"Defeating" ancestral primordial fears is pretty hard, what will work for someone wouldn't work for others. I don't think that a really hardcore arachnophobic person could "heal" from that just owning a pet rock sling or else.
 

IsraelMS

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Sep 25, 2016
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I was heavily arachnophobic the major part of my life. However I had to face spiders everywhere, specially when I was doing fieldwork in Namibia and the spiders were not house spiders but other bigger and faster things. However it happened that a friend of mine from Barcelona stayed a couple of days at home with some T he was going to trade at a exotics fair in Madrid. And out from my own curiosity I finally defeated arachnophobia and started my own collection. It is a wonder to me all of this, because almost all my life I could not stand the presence of a house spider in front of me in a wall. It was a nightmarish, overpowering feeling. And now...
 

Walker253

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Jun 12, 2016
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My girlfriend has a level of arachnophobia. You will never cure her, only she can cure herself. We live together and she allows them without protest, but she made it clear she wants nothing to do with them. I respect that and as long as nothing happens, there is peace and tranquility in my house.
That being said, she is beginning to soften her stance. She was willing to take a pic of my G pulcripes in my daughter's and my hands. She is less likely to call me over and to say "kill it" referring to a house spider on the wall. She now knows the value of spiders to the ecosystem. There is a benefit though. Because she doesn't want to pay attention, she thinks I have about a dozen tarantulas and my collection is more than two dozen and growing. As long as nothing happens, I'll have free reign. Something happening would be more than an escapee, I've had a lot of herps, she hated them too. She didn't like them, but she tolerated them eventually, including a big female albino redtail boa who was an escape artist.
If your girlfriend can find herself able to be around them without interaction, that is a victory, for you, her , and your relationship. Anything after that is icing on the cake.
Good luck
 

Andrea82

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There is a keeper on here who joined because she is a therapist and was looking for info on how to care. She's specialized in phobia, and arachnophobia. She probably has some tips :)
@spidertherapy78
 

AlbatrossWarrior

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Feb 6, 2016
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"Defeating" ancestral primordial fears is pretty hard, what will work for someone wouldn't work for others. I don't think that a really hardcore arachnophobic person could "heal" from that just owning a pet rock sling or else.
I would have to "disagree" with the primordial fear thing :D There's really no evidence of super scary, giant, super dangerous spiders from ancient human times, cavemen weren't running from spiders, and probably had no such fear! And in fact, pretty much all little children don't fear spiders until they are taught by media and their parents that spiders should be feared. I've seen many young children be very interested in my tarantulas and show only curiosity for them. Me and my sister used to love all bugs, my sister LOVES centipedes and millipedes, she is the exact person I imagine when I think of a T collector, but she is a huge arachnophobe/arachno hater. Why? Because my father always bought those wall plug in "spider repellents" to keep spiders away from us when we were kids, so she thinks they're evil and mean and hateful; even now that she's in college and loves every other animal.

In the past year I've helped at least ten adults and teens get over their fear simply by bringing out a few of my cages to the kitchen table and talking about each individual T :D Talking about them is my favorite thing to do and open-minded people are my favorite type of people! Having my sister like them is my ultimate goal, cuz I know once she likes them she would collect them too and we could be hobby buddies, lol
 

Jeff23

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We have this one lady at the office who has an extreme case of fear for bugs, snakes, and anything similar. There are certain people at the office who have put bugs in her office to get a laugh. I don't think any type of therapy would help her. She would probably refuse to accept it.

I think the best people to target are the ones who have a mild case where they don't freak out but will kill a spider in a hurry if it is in their area.
 

CarbonBasedLifeform

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I agree that it really is a learned fear and not instinct. My 5 year old daughter shows interest in all sorts of life that she finds in the yard or when we are camping, spiders included. Since she lives with her mother, sometimes I'll pick her up after not seeing her for a few days and she will say something about not liking spiders. When I ask her about it, I'll get a story about someone freaking out because of a spider in the house. After talking to her about spiders and showing her the Ts, she is interested in them again
 

AlbatrossWarrior

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Not exactly. There's at least 1 or 2 studies suggesting humans are wired to fear spiders and snakes, for the latter, search pulvinar.
That's super interesting! I've heard that birds are terrified of anything snakelike in appearance as well. But I can understand snake fear, there are TONS of venomous snakes. Just saying that there most likely haven't been more than a couple dangerous spiders for the past few thousand years, so there wouldn't be any reason for humans to fear all of them, except I guess; fear or the unknown, which you could apply to an "instinctual fear of spiders" :bookworm: Science is awesome, human/primate brains are awesome, I definitely need to study some more brain stuff
 

MeAndMyRosie

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Sep 10, 2016
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I used to be afraid of spiders and snakes back in my early twenties. In fact, I was so fearful of them that it would cause me you have bad dreams at night. Then in my thirties I got into handling ball pythons and now in my forties into the tarantulas. Although I only have 3 T's which are all dwarfs, I will top it off with getting the classic b.smithi...as long as we don't go over 6" in size, I'm good! LOL
 

Marijan2

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Oct 21, 2012
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There may be studies that show fear is instinctive, but if its true it is very inconsistent. I worked as kindergarten and primary school guide on exotic animals exhibit for few years, and MOST of the kids were not afraid and very interested in animals. And it is very obvious which kids were negatively influenced by someone else in that matter.
 

Jeff23

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I grew up out in the country and was never really fearful of snakes or bugs of any sort. I remember my brother, neighbors and I going on missions to collect them in jars. We caught this small snake in one jar. Some men doing landscape work at our new home told us it was just a ground snake so we took it home and into the house. The ground snake turned out to be a rattle snake. Our folks were not real happy with our collecting hobby.
 

viper69

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I grew up out in the country and was never really fearful of snakes or bugs of any sort. I remember my brother, neighbors and I going on missions to collect them in jars. We caught this small snake in one jar. Some men doing landscape work at our new home told us it was just a ground snake so we took it home and into the house. The ground snake turned out to be a rattle snake. Our folks were not real happy with our collecting hobby.
How old were you, and do you recall how many "buttons" the rattle had? I'm surprised you were able to catch it w/out it setting off a rattle warning, even a young one.

Incidentally the rattle snake tail movement is the fastest vertebrate movement on the planet :D
 

cold blood

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There may be studies that show fear is instinctive, but if its true it is very inconsistent. I worked as kindergarten and primary school guide on exotic animals exhibit for few years, and MOST of the kids were not afraid and very interested in animals. And it is very obvious which kids were negatively influenced by someone else in that matter.
My experiences as well, both observation and personal experience. As a kid, I had no fear, after schooling and learning and having everybody act freaked about creepy crawlies caused me to react negatively to spiders, causing me to become ridiculously arachnophobic...like pulling hair out in clumps in a panic ridiculous.

There are several neighbor kids and their frequent visiting friends next door...prior to being of school age, it was always, "can we see the spiders"...literally after just a few months of school socialization and, bam, instantly they were "eeewwww" and "gross" or "disgusting"....it was like, hey kid, you wanted to see them all the time just a month ago, what happened?
 

Jeff23

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How old were you, and do you recall how many "buttons" the rattle had? I'm surprised you were able to catch it w/out it setting off a rattle warning, even a young one.

Incidentally the rattle snake tail movement is the fastest vertebrate movement on the planet :D
I was about 9 or 10 years old. I struggle to remember well, but it was a baby snake and had not developed any rattles that were visible best I can remember. But it was attempting to bite us through the jar. There was moisture on the glass.

At that time it was very rural there so there were a lot of snakes. I don't remember anything about spiders so I think we just found the typical ones - wolf spiders, jumping spiders, black widow, etc. But I loved ants. I would take food and watch them carry it back to their nests. That was quite a while before fire ants arrived. Too bad we don't have any T's in this corner of the country because that probably would have got my interest. Who knows how much I would have been scared of them.
 
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