Derived from the Greek words Ophis (serpent) and Phobos (fear), Ophidiophobia is one of the most commonly reported phobias. Indeed, reports claim that as many as one third of adult humans suffer from an intense fear of snakes.
While most of us have a healthy respect for snakes, and fear contact with potentially venomous species, an Ophidiophobe shudders at the mere suggestion of snakes. In extreme cases, even cartoon pictures depicting the slithering reptile can bring on intense panic attacks, dizziness and nausea.
So, why is the fear of snakes such a common phobia? What is it about the sleek reptile that is so revolting to so many people? Are you an Ophidiophobe and you don’t know it, and if so, can you be treated?
Let’s get to the bottom of this snake pit.
CAUSES OF OPHIDIOPHOBIA
As with several other specific phobias, psychologists look back to our evolution when trying to determine what makes us so scared of snakes. It’s a well-known fact that certain species are venomous, and some can kill within minutes.
Many years ago, when medicine and basic living standards left a lot to be desired, snakes could very well have posed a huge threat to a tribe’s survival. It is believed that humans, along with many other mammals, soon developed a sensible fear of snakes. Those who feared the slippery serpents were far more likely to survive.
This fear has been passed on, and has become one of many survival instincts. While this explains why a fear of snakes is so prevalent, there are other theories as to how this fear can develop into Ophidiophobia.
Culture and Conditioning
Snakes are symbolic creatures, found in various forms throughout different myths from cultures across the globe. While the stories may differ, one fact remains almost 100% consistent. The snake represents darkness and evil.
We learn from a young age that snakes are deadly creatures, and are constantly told to be careful of them. From story books to news reports, almost everything we hear about snakes is negative. This conditioning is believed to play a major role in the development of Ophiophobia.
Of course, traumatic experiences can be directly linked to the phobia. From witnessing a snake hissing at a loved one, to being bitten as a child, there are many ways early snake experiences can lead to developing an intense fear of them.
SYMPTOMS OF OPHIDIOPHOBIA
While many of us might stop in our tracks and feel a slight panic when confronted by a snake, we’ll normally move on and carry on about our business. An Ophidiophobe on the other hand is likely to suffer far more severe symptoms.
- Anxiety attacks
- Hot or cold flushes
- Sweating and clammy hands
- Even images fill you with fear; You don’t have to see a real snake for panic attacks to strike. You might just see a picture in a book or on TV.
- Your fear prevents you from doing things; You avoid zoos, walking in the woods or picnics with friends, because you might encounter a snake.
The good news is that treating your fear of snakes is entirely possible, and there are numerous different methods you can adopt.
- Exposure therapy involves slowly exposing yourself to snakes in a positive environment. It starts by looking at pictures while a professional provides positive affirmations. Gradually, you will work up to handling a real snake.
- Hypnotherapy is a great choice for Ophidiophobes who struggle to even think about snakes without panicking.
- NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming views the brain as a computer, made up of various codes and programs. Ophidiophobia is a fault that simply needs to be reprogrammed. This is a fairly quick method, without the mental strain of being exposed to your fear. Many sufferers report strong results within 5 days of 10-minute exercises, which can completed from the comfort of your own home.
- Relaxation training enables you to not only overcome your fear of snakes, but to also stand in the face of any danger and keep your cool. The training typically involves breathing exercises and meditation.
- In today’s digital world, there are even apps or audio therapy sessions such as subliminals you can download to help rid you of your phobia.
BENEFITS OF OVERCOMING FEAR OF SNAKES
By treating your Ophidiophobia, a world of opportunities become open to you. You can suddenly enjoy the things and places that you previously avoided. Trips to the zoo, hikes in the forest and visits to exciting countries no longer need to be put off.
But more than that, to be free from extreme fear allows you to relax in any environment. No more will you need to fear standing too close to someone with a newspaper, in case a picture of a snake is on the next page. Plus, you will prove to yourself that you are able to conquer your fears and move forward in life.