Arachnophobia: Fear and Professor Martin Antony

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A phobia is an irrational, persistent fear of things or situations. The source of the fear can create a strong anxiety reaction such as sweating, heart palpitations, or trouble breathing. After a while, just thinking or seeing the cause of the fear can provoke anxiety. Many people have mild phobias that do not need treatment, but some people's phobias interfere with their lives and require treatment. "Arachnophobia" comes from the Greek words, "arachne", meaning "spider", and "phobos", meaning "a fear". Arachnophobia is defined as an inordinate fear of spiders. This phobia can often be triggered by the thought of or sometimes even a picture of a spider. A serious case of arachnophobia is much different than someone who doesn't like spiders. Many people who are afraid of spiders have feelings of panic entering into a situation where spiders may be present. Professor Martin Antony of the University of Toronto Psychiatry Department classifies arachnophobics in two categories: "monitors" and "blunters". When a "monitor" enters a room, he searches the entire room for a spider. When he finds one, he not only makes sure he knows where it is but he continues to follow or monitor it. A "blunter" does the exact opposite: he does everything in his power to keep from seeing a spider in a room. He will distract himself, even talking to himself to avoid seeing the spider. This fear of spiders can dictate where someone chooses to live, go on vacation, work or what sports or hobbies are enjoyed. Symptoms may include excessive sweating or clamminess, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, nausea and dizziness. Often this fear is caused by an incident earlier in life which was frightening. People sometimes have the misconception that such a frightening event would have to be a long-lasting or memorable ordeal. Many people don't even remember the events, which led to their phobia. The mind can create a phobia based on an instant of panic.
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