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Arachnophobia or arachnephobia (from the Greek: ἀράχνη, aráchnē, "spider" and φόβος, phóbos, "fear") is a specific phobia, the fear of spiders and other arachnids such as scorpions. It is a manifestation of zoophobia, among the most common of all phobias.[1] The reactions of arachnophobics often seem irrational to others (and sometimes to the sufferers themselves). People with arachnophobia tend to feel uneasy in any area they believe could harbor spiders or that has visible signs of their presence, such as webs. If arachnophobics see a spider they may not enter the general vicinity until they have overcome the panic attack that is often associated with their phobia. In some extreme cases, even a picture or a realistic drawing of a spider can also trigger fear. Arachnophobics may feel humiliated if such episodes happen in the presence of peers or family members.

The fear of spiders can be treated by any of the general techniques suggested for specific phobias. As with all phobias, the strength of the associations means the individual must actively pursue the techniques, and outsiders should in no way undermine or "play" with the phobia in the meantime.

An evolutionary reason for the phobias, such as arachnophobia, claustrophobia, fear of snakes or mice, etc. remains unresolved. One view, especially held in evolutionary psychology, is that the presence of venomous spiders led to the evolution of a fear of spiders or made acquisition of a fear of spiders especially easy. Like all traits, there is variability in the intensity of fears of spiders, and those with more intense fears are classified as phobic. Spiders, for instance, being relatively small, don’t fit the usual criterion for a threat in the animal kingdom where size is a factor, but nearly all species are venomous, and although rarely dangerous to humans, some species are dangerous. Arachnophobes will spare no effort to make sure that their whereabouts are spider-free, hence they would have had a reduced risk of being bitten in ancestral environments. Therefore, arachnophobes may possess a slight advantage over non-arachnophobes in terms of survival. However, this theory is undermined by the disproportional fear of spiders in comparison to other, far more deadly creatures[citation needed] that were present during Homo Sapiens environment of evolutionary adaptiveness. Studies with crickets have shown that a fear of spiders can develop before birth.[2]

The alternative view is that the dangers, such as from spiders, are overrated and not sufficient to influence evolution. Instead, inheriting phobias would have restrictive and debilitating effects upon survival, rather than being an aid. For some communities such as in Papua New Guinea and South America (except Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina), spiders are included in traditional foods. This suggests arachnophobia may be a cultural, rather than genetic trait.

In Western societies as many as 55% of females and 18% of males are estimated to experience arachnophobia [3]


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