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Spiders, Snakes, and Single Tails: Dealing with Fears and Phobias

Author: Norische

Filed in: health and safety, general knowledge, fear



The word phobia originated from the Greek god Phobos. When in battle the Greek army would call on Phobos to assist them, he would inflict the apposing army with irrational, intense fears, fears like…fear of clouds (nephophobia), fear of crowds or mobs (enochlophobia), or perhaps fear of death or dying (thanatophobia). The apposing army would run in terror from the battle field, ensuring the Greek army another guaranteed victory.

Phobias have been around since time began, the first Neanderthal may have indeed had pyrophobia (fear of fire) or maybe herpetophobia (fear of reptiles), needless to say phobias have been in existence for a very long time. For centuries we have been figuring out names for all of these oddities. In 1945 a new phobia was diagnosed, nucleomituphobia (fear of nuclear weapons), however the most recent addition to the list has been cyberphobia (fear of computers).

According to the National Institute of Mental Heath between 5.1% and 21.5% of Americans suffer from some form of phobia. On an average one out of every eight people suffer from this form of mental illness. It is the most common form of mental illness among women in all age groups and the second most common among men older than 25.

Types of Phobias

Simple phobias: These are fears focused on a singular stimulus such as fear of heights (achophobia), fear of needles (aichmophobia), or the fear of the number 13 (triskadekaphobia). This is the most common form of phobia, one out of every 12 Americans has singular or specific phobias. These phobias normally start in early adolescence into the adult years, research also shows that this form of phobia my run in families. Simple phobias may begin suddenly and tend to last longer than other childhood phobias. Most people with this form of phobia will have an intense fear of something that poses little or no real danger. Since there is no true danger the fear is normally considered to be an irrational fear, or not based on reality.

Complex phobias: This is when an individual has a number of fears either associated or independent of each other. For example someone can have a fear of water (hydrophobia), a fear of bridges (gephyrophobia) and a fear of fish (ichthyophobia). Another example would be a fear of closed in places (claustrophobia), a fear of homosexuals (homophobia) and a fear of spiders (arachnophobia).

Social Phobias: These are phobias that are associated with what might occur in a social setting or the company of others. They fear the scrutiny of others, they become so sensitive to criticism that they may interpret the actions of others as an attempt to humiliate them, this is not to be confused with paranoia, the feeling that everyone is out to harm you in someway. The fear of criticism (enissophobia), the fear of undressing in front of someone (dishabiliophobia), or the fear of speaking in public (glossophobia), may all be considered social phobias. Social phobia may often be associated with depression or alcohol abuse.

Childhood phobias: These are phobias that start in early childhood, these fears are normally short term, however they may continue into adulthood. A few examples of childhood phobias are the fear of the dark (nyctophobia), fear of thunder or lightning (astraphobia), or the fear of being alone (autophobia). These fears are normally based on lack of experience and the unknown, as an individual gains knowledge and experience these fears tend to disperse.

Panic Attacks: This is a fear that is based not on one specific thing, this type of fear is unfocused and therefore can occur at any time under any circumstance. There is no predicting when a panic attack will occur or what will trigger it, oddly enough panic attacks are very common in individuals that normally seem to be quite confident and capable individuals. Panic attacks may be based on emotional, environmental as well as physical or biological triggers. It has been suggested that the primary cause of panic attacks is actually a chemical imbalance, if this is true this type of phobia may be easily treated with the appropriate testing and medication. For most panic attacks begin sometime between the ages of 15 and 19, this in itself would appear to verify the possibility that this type of phobia is caused by a chemical imbalance, due to the hormonal changes experienced during these times.

Agoraphobia: Some people that experience repetitive panic attacks go on to develop into agoraphobia. This phobia is quite literally a fear of leaving a safe place, the attacks become so frequent that the individual will avoid any circumstance where they may have an attack, this form of phobia is extremely crippling. This phobia comes in two parts, the panic attack and the “anticipatory anxiety” or the fear of the panic attack, the individual becomes so afraid of being afraid that they can no longer function as a productive part of society.

“If you have agoraphobia, chances are it developed something like this: One ordinary day, while tending to some chore, taking a walk, driving to work – in other words, just going about your usual business – you were suddenly struck by a wave of awful terror. Your heart started pounding, you trembled, you perspired profusely, and you had difficulty catching your breath. You become convinced that something terrible was happening to you, maybe you were going crazy, maybe you were having a heart attack, maybe you were about to die. You desperately sought safety, reassurance from your family, treatment at a clinic or emergency room. Your doctor could find nothing wrong with you, so you went about your business, until a panic attack struck you again. As the attacks become more frequent, you spend more and more time thinking about them. You worried, watched for danger, and waited with fear for the next one to hit. You begin to avoid situations where you had experienced an attack, then others where you would find it particularly difficult to deal with one – to escape and get help. You started by making minor adjustments in your habits – going to the store at midnight, for example, rather than on the way home from work when the store tends to be crowded. Gradually, you got to the point where you couldn’t venture outside your immediate neighborhood, couldn’t leave your house without your spouse, or maybe couldn’t leave at all. What started out as an inconvenience turned into a nightmare. Like a creature in a horror movie, fear expanded until it covered the entire screen of your life.” (Useful Information On Phobias and Panic, by Hopkins Technology).

Now that you are familiar with some forms of fears and phobias you are probably asking yourself why you needed this information in the first place. As stated previously one out of every 12 Americans have a phobia to some degree, chances are someone you know, maybe even yourself has a phobia of some form, understanding what a phobia is and how it will effect an individual may very well prevent a disaster.

For example: The scene is rather simple, the slave is secured in wrist cuffs to a set of overhead chains, standing there swaying gently with the rhythm of the flogger. A bee lands on the slave’s arm, as soon as she feels it touch her arm she opens her eyes and sees it. Screaming in terror she thrashes about, trying to get away from the bee, she attempts to jerk her hands out of the cuffs, and in doing so she dislocates her wrist. Between the pain of her wrist and the terror she is feeling she is unable to explain to her Master what the problem is. Her Master upon hearing her scream, gave her a confused look, I mean he hadn’t even struck her then. He watches her for a minute unable to understand what is going on, it didn’t take long to realize something was terrifying her, and right this minute it didn’t matter what it was, he only knew if he didn’t get her down then she was going to her herself. He reached around her to grab the clasp on the cuffs, all the while dodging her elbows as she twists her body too and fro. As soon as he has her free she runs past him and darts into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. Her Master hot on her heels chases her into the bathroom and finds her curled up in a little ball in the shower, shaking and sobbing, unable to catch her breath. After a lot of tender care and a little time the slave is able to tell her Master about the bee, and her phobia. With a quick trip to the emergency room for x-rays on the wrist and some pain pills, everything is back to normal.

My submissive is afraid of spiders (arachnophobia), if he comes in contact with a spider normally he will experience paralysis, the inability to speak, the inability to move, and he does have a tendency to hold his breath, which leads to dizziness, lightheaded, and even passing out…if the situation is not rectified. My slave has a fear of being caught in a situation and unable to escape, it is not exactly claustrophobia since she can be in small places as long as she knows how to get out, it isn’t exactly agoraphobia since she can be in a crowd as long as she is aware of where exits are and where a safe place is. She finds it very difficult to drive in an area where there is construction and there are concrete pylons on both sides of the road, if she cannot see over the pylons then she will begin to have a panic attack. If she is in the store and there is a big crowd, she is ok if no one is touching her, but if someone starts pushing her she begins to feel helpless and out of control so she has to leave the situation. While I was writing this article she informed me that her brother has agoraphobia, and is restricted on the distance he can “safely” travel from his home, currently he is on medication to help with his phobia. I found this very interesting especially since while doing research for this article I found out that phobias may run in families, something that I had never known.

One question I have learned to ask anyone I work with is “Do you have any fears, or phobias, and if so how do you react?” If someone is going to have a phobic reaction I want to know what will trigger the reaction and what behaviors I can expect.

Common behaviors associated with phobias:

Feelings of panic, dread, horror, or terror

Recognition that the fears are irrational and that there is no real threat of danger.

Reactions are automatic and uncontrollable

Rapid heartbeat

Shortness of breath

Trembling, shaking

An overwhelming desire to flee

Inability to move

Inability to speak

Screaming

Sobbing, crying

Inability to focus or comprehend logically

Profuse sweating

Avoidance of situations, associated with phobias

There are many types of treatments currently being experimented with, I use the word experimented with due to the fact that it is not certain what causes phobias and therefore how to cure or treat them is also a mystery in truth.

Desensitization is one form of treatment that is currently being used. This is where an individual is slowly exposed to his or her fear, in baby steps. For example if they have a fear of spiders, they may be shown drawings of spiders, then photographs of spiders, then fake spiders, then a real spider behind at a safe distance, then a closer exposure but still in a contained situation like in an aquarium, and finally physical contact with a spider.

Hypnosis is also being explored, this works to some degree. If the phobia is based on emotional of psychological triggers then this is very effective, however if the phobia is triggered by a chemical imbalance or other medical cause this type of treatment has little effect.

Drug therapy has been explored for quite some time, in the 1960’s it was found that certain antidepressants could prevent panic attacks, characteristic of agoraphobia. There has been exploration with some forms of benzodiazepines (such as Valium and Librium) these worked well on the anxiety but did little towards the actual attack. MAO inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants have also been used in these treatments, however they do produce some unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness. One of the most promising drugs on the market currently is Xanax (alprozolam), the quick response of the drug and its ability to block panic attack within days after starting the medication makes this drug very promising, although it has not yet been approved by the AMA for treating panic, or phobias. The side effects of Xanax are generally drowsiness, dependence and in some cases seizures. Another class of drug being explored is adrenergic blockers, these drugs seem to be most effective on social phobias, these drugs are normally prescribed to treat high blood pressure, these medications may be tried when a patient does not respond well to other medications.

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way, don’t be caught unaware, ask questions, do research, and strive to understand. Fear is the mind killer, it can destroy you from within.

If you have any questions or comments, my email address is Norisch1@mchsi.com.

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