Arachnophobia: Why are we afraid of spiders

The fear of dangerous animals is as old as humanity itself. Why exactly spiders in many people cause a much greater fear than the disgusting worms or dangerous wasp? And is there any connection with the plague?

One in three women and one in five men obsessed with a fear of spiders. In this case the scientific zoophobia called arachnophobia (OE from the Greek words "Arachne" - spider and "Phobos" - fear), and is one of the most common phobias. No wonder our ancestors experienced the fear of large predators, and some people are still experiencing, even fear of dogs, not to mention the inhabitants of the enclosures in zoos.

The ancient man had no claws, no fangs, which could compete with the natural weapons of fauna. A common place in science is the fact that instinct causes us to fear not only predators, but bees or wasps. But fear of spiders poses a difficult question scientists and remains largely a mystery. Scientists still can not say when this phobia appeared.

Biologists say spiders - this is a very old animals. The oldest fossilized spiders, there are a few million years. About them we know that they have not changed over the centuries, but they were neither larger nor more dangerous than it is today. Therefore we can not speak of the existence of a giant ancestor of spiders, possess a deadly bite.

Amazingly, the rhesus monkeys in the laboratory were not afraid of snakes (their relatives remaining at large, on the contrary, their panic fear). However, watching his cousins ​​in the wild, quickly adopt this fear. But this fear is not comparable with a phobia fear of spiders, as snakes are really dangerous. Most spider venom is toxic to their prey, but has no effect on a person.

So, never existed a terrible spider-mutant, and spiders are not among poisonous animals. However, the fear of them remains a fact. According to statistics, women are twice as likely as men to suffer from arachnophobia. Even phobias are not subject to the average women timidly than men.

Psychologists put the following experiment. The subjects were given pictures with images of moths, bees, wasps, beetles and spiders, so that they describe the extent of their fear, disgust and a sense of danger. Curiously, spiders cause more fear and loathing the strongest. Although the bees, for example, is much more poisonous. Danger spiders too exaggerated.

What is the reason? Where does this irrational irrational fear of spiders? After all, some people had a cult of worship of spiders. They erected shrines and shrine, which was worshiped as deities. A psychiatrist from London expressed a rather original point of view, that the fear of spiders appeared in times of plague, when the sea had cut a large part of the population of medieval Europe. They were considered carriers of the disease. Here are just arachnophobia suffer not only the descendants of Europeans and not only in the old Europe.

However, according to recent studies, arachnophobia is more characteristic of the people of Western Europe and North America. In other words, the heirs of the Western European culture. But in Asia, some types of spiders even considered edible. Although once again recall that fear of spiders in all countries and regions, particularly in Africa. Patients with this kind of phobia are afraid of all spiders. Of course, large size causes greater fear. Some do not even dare to touch the book, in which there are illustrations of spiders, let alone her reading.

According to the modern German psychologist George W. Alpers (Georg W. Alpers), fear of spiders becomes pathological when the person is afraid to go down to the basement, the garage or go sit in the garden gazebo, because they were waiting for him there. "From this moment we psychologists talk about phobias," - says Dr. Alpers online magazine "Welt».

Alex Zotov


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