Arachnophobia, that dreaded fear of the eight-legged creeps will now be a thing of the past, thanks to a new therapy developed by a team of scientists from the University of Amsterdam. Spider exposure therapy cures arachnophobia and the whole process takes, according to the doctors, less than 2 minutes.
According to epidemiological facts, arachnophobia is capable of affecting approximately 6 percent of Earth’s population. A little trivia regarding this psychological issue. People suffering from arachnophobia tend to feel very uneasy when they are in the presence of spiders, regardless if they are harmless or venomous. Seeing also signs associated with spiders such as spiders webs or any visual representation that resembles a spider could trigger this fear in a person. In most cases of arachnophobia, patients tend to keep their distance when they encounter a spider or a spider’s web.
Of course, there are some instances, where people would display some intense symptoms such as screaming, crying or even jumping from a running car. In others, the simple presence of a spider could trigger a panic attack which manifests itself through excessive sweating, breathing problems and even heart palpitations.
But the researchers from the University of Amsterdam have proved that spider exposure therapy can cure arachnophobia. The method is simple enough and it has shown remarkable results when tested out on animals. According to their statements, the founding principle of this therapy is not entirely new. The concept behind the novel therapy was discovered over 15 years ago by doctor Joseph LeDoux.
Following LeDoux’s findings, it seems that a core memory could be altered in such a way as to strengthen or weaken it. Using this technique, the researchers have seen some improvements when it came to lessening the fear of spider in some individuals. But the technique alone is not enough in order to cure an individual of his fears.
And so, the doctors have decided that the best course of treatment, in this case, is a combination of behavioral therapy, which entails the brief exposure of individual to certain spider species, and pharmacological compounds. Initial results have proved that by using propanolol, a beta blocker, mainly used for treating symptoms associated with high blood pressure, just at the right moment the doctor is actually capable of inducing a state very similar to amnesia, which literally blocks the fear associated with that memory.
Unfortunately, this approach is more or less theoretical because it has been tested only on lab animals. But it would seem that London Zoo had marvelous results in curing arachnophobia with mass hypnosis.