The Fear of Spiders

As amusing as it may sound to many people, Arachnophobia–the fear of spiders, is a traumatizing reality for millions of Americans and people worldwide.

If you or someone you know personally has this phobia, then it should be brewing in your mind to find the answers that bring freedom from this evil web of fear.

Even though to the phobic it may seem impossible at first, the fear of spiders, like most fears, can most certainly be overcome.

There are a variety of treatments, exercises, and therapies that can help and the World Wide Web…oops…sorry…offers a vast array of resources and material that can be of assistance.

Most phobias are established to have developed from a traumatizing childhood experience that grew with the phobic so that it eventually becomes a part of him. At times when traumatizing childhood experiences cannot be established, psychologists were known to venture into the realm of reincarnation and past life regression.

Phobia is not the same as “fear”. A “fear” is a sense of impending danger or evil established by inherent logics and reasoning or by gut instinct. A “phobia” on the other hand is an inflated and disproportionate perception of reality.

Some researchers theorized that spiders were once a threat to the human race somewhere in evolutionary history and that panic attacks resulting from phobias were a defense mechanism that could save the life of persons. Such theories, however, have no solid foundations.

Is the fear of spiders rational? Almost everyone would agree that the answer to that question is a resounding “no”. It is in fact, somewhat “mystical”. An arachnophobe would be dreadfully afraid of a spider that is really harmless, and poisonous spiders are not really a threat if seen.

Experts agree that knowing more about your phobia helps you overcome it since most phobias grow out of fear of the unknown. Following are some “fun” facts about spiders.

The fear of spiders actually has its roots deep in Greek mythology. “Arachnophobia” comes from the Greek words, “arachne”, meaning “spider”, and “phobos”, meaning “a fear”. Arachne was a beautiful Greek maiden. She studied weaving under Athena, and had extraordinary skill. When her skills were later recognized, she denied any training given by Athena. Athena turned herself into a bitter, old lady. She approached Arachne, and tricked her into a weaving contest. Arachne wove portraits of the gods performing evil deeds. Athena and Arachne finished their weaving in an extremely short amount of time, but Arachne’s work was much finer than Athena’s. Athena was furious that a mere mortal had beaten her in a weaving contest and had portrayed the gods in a disrespectful way. Overcome with rage, she beat Arachne to the ground. Arachne was so upset, she hanged herself. Athena realized what she had done, regretted her actions, and sprinkled a magic liquid onto Arachne, turning her into a spider, so she could keep her weaving skills.

The feared tarantula isn’t poisonous. A tarantula’s bite can be painful, but it isn’t any more dangerous than a bee sting.

Under a spider’s abdomen, near the rear, are tiny stubs called spinnerets. The spider uses its legs to pull liquid silk made in its abdomen from the spinnerets. The silk hardens as it stretches. Since silk is made out of protein, a spider eats the used silk of an old web before spinning a new one.

On an American one-dollar bill, there is an owl in the upper left-hand corner of the “1” encased in the “shield” and a spider hidden in the front upper right-hand corner.

Most spiders belong to the orb weaver spider family, Family Aranidae. This is pronounced “A Rainy Day.”

In the 1960s, animal behavior researchers studied the effects of various substances on spiders. When spiders were fed flies that had been injected with caffeine, they spun very “nervous” webs. When spiders ate flies injected with LSD, they spun webs with wild, abstract patterns. Spiders that were given sedatives fell asleep before completing their webs.

Horseshoe crabs and spiders are actually close relatives. The horseshoe crab belongs to the large group of invertebrates (animals without backbones) called Arthropods. This group also includes lobsters, crabs, insects, spiders, and scorpions. Even though it looks crab-like, with a hard shell and claws, the horseshoe crab is more closely related to scorpions and spiders than to crabs.

Many cultures believe that spiders bring good luck. The spider was popular with the Romans, who had a favorite mascot in the shape of a precious stone upon which a spider was engraved. Also they were fond of carrying little spiders of gold or silver, or any of the fortunate metals, to bring good luck in anything to do with trade.

Spider silk can stretch up to 50 percent of its original length. A strand of spider silk the width of a pencil could stop a Boeing 747 in flight.

On average, people fear spiders more than they fear dying. However, statistically, you are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by the bite of a poisonous spider.

We’d probably all be dead without spiders. Their sheer number makes spiders vital in maintaining the balance of nature. Because they structure insect communities wherever they occur, spiders play a vital role in the terrestrial food chain. Without all those hungry spiders, insect populations would explode, food crops would be decimated, and ecological balances ravaged. Humans would probably starve within a matter of months–if they hadn’t already succumbed to various insect-borne diseases. No spider, incidentally, has been found to transmit disease.

Spider venom can be used to treat certain neurological and mental disorders. A research group in Utah has isolated components from the venom of many species of North American spiders, which may help reduce brain damage following strokes.