There are around 1 million identified species of insects on earth, with an estimated 8 million undocumented species. That’s a lot of bugs and few places on earth devoid of them. This can be a real problem for sufferers of Entomophobia.
The fear of insects and bugs gets its name from the Ancient Greek word entomos, meaning insect. You may also know this phobia by its Latin name, Acarophobia, Acaro meaning mite. It is estimated that 5 – 10% of the population suffers this phobia, with higher numbers in the West. While anyone of any age or gender may be affected, there is a trend to young males and older females.
Entomophobes can find their lives utterly disrupted in extreme cases, with sufferers reluctant to leave their home and avoiding any potential contact. Thankfully, there are proven treatments, allowing people to move on and enjoy life. The first step to freedom is understanding.
CAUSES OF ENTOMOPHOBIA
Many studies show that a great many cases of Entomophobia are caused during childhood, either as a result of a traumatic experience or through conditioning. A wasp sting or being covered in creepy crawlies as a child can lead to a phobia over time. Likewise, a witnessed event, such as seeing a someone reacting badly to a sting, can also evolve into a deep fear.
If no such personal experience ever occurred, it’s possible the sufferer learnt to fear insects. Living with family members who are terrified of bugs may lead you to grow up with the same fear. However, causes of Entomophobia are not exclusively linked to childhood, and can occur at any time.
Stress, depression and isolation, possibly as a result of a life shattering event, such as divorce or the loss of a loved one, have also been shown to lead to Entomophobia. In this case, it’s not uncommon for the fear to start off as an unrelated illness, commonly a skin disease, brought about by a weakened mental and physical state. The itching may be linked to insects, and soon an intense fear develops, especially in isolated individuals.
SYMPTOMS OF ENTOMOPHOBIA
The symptoms vary among sufferers, with some exhibiting extreme reactions that are damaging to their health.
- Intense fear of insects resulting in screaming, crying, panic attacks, fleeing, fainting, sweating, hot flushes, lashing out and nausea when confronted by a bug. In more serious cases, even the thought of bugs, can set off anxiety.
- Avoiding situations for fear of encountering bugs. In mild cases you may forgo social events whereas more extreme sufferers may avoid leaving their safe zone altogether.
- OCD levels of cleanliness. Sufferers may constantly be cleaning in order to reduce the threat of bugs.
- Itchy skin and the feeling that there are bugs crawling on you. This is known as Delusory Parasitosis and can lead to self-mutilation as sufferers scratch incessantly.
- Depression and social isolation which can lead to further issues such as obesity.
- Reading about and studying insects in order to validate your fear.
- 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.
Entomophobia can quickly escalate into more serious mental and physical issues. As such it’s essential that help is sought out.
As with many other phobias, one of the most common treatments is a form of
behavioural therapy, known as Systematic Desensitization. The treatment works by replacing your fear response to bugs, with a relaxed, controlled response. Relaxation and breathing exercises are practiced as the patient becomes increasingly exposed to insects.
There are a number of home treatments you can practice, which are ideal for extreme cases. Audio Therapies such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy courses can be downloaded or bought on CD. Using advanced subliminal messaging and brain exercises, your mind will be trained to unlearn your fear of insects, putting you in control.
These treatments can also be carried out in a controlled environment with a professional, who can adapt the course to your specific needs. Often, this type of therapy will not only remove your fear of bugs, but also put you in control of many aspects in your life.
BENEFITS OF OVERCOMING FEAR OF BUGS AND INSECTS
Entomophobia is potentially one of the most debilitating phobias, and can lead to far more severe conditions. From a young age it can lead to a life of social isolation. By overcoming your fear, you’re more likely to avoid such issues, and can begin to enjoy a stress-free life.
Even less severe cases are well worth treating, especially for parents. It’s very easy to inadvertently pass a phobia onto children, who are likely to suffer more extremely. By ridding yourself of your fear, you reduce the risk of your child having to suffer.
When you’re free from fear, you’re free to enjoy the world.