Kim Kardashian Forced to Confront Flying Spider

What is it about spiders that terrifies some people?

The hairy legs? The potentially poisonous fangs?

Those of you who feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck at the thought of a spider can readily identify with reality star Kim Kardashian’s intense fear of spiders:

On this week’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians, stepfather Bruce Jenner tries to help poor Kim overcome her arachnophobia. How?  He throws a spider at her!

Did it work? Kinda.

Kim eventually calms down and even goes so far as to “adopt” two pet spiders, which she names Charlotte and Wilbur, in honor of the characters in Charlotte’s Web.

Be thankful that spiders can’t fly

1.  Arachnophobia is an intense fear of spiders and other arachnids, which include spiders, scorpions and even ticks.

2.  It is considered a “specific phobia”  which is defined as an intense, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger.

3.  Some of the more common specific phobias include the fear of closed-in places (claustrophobia), heights (acrophobia),  water (hydrophobia), flying (pteromerhanophobia),  and dogs (cynophobia).

4.  While adults with phobias realize that these fears are irrational, they often find that facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.

5.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, specific phobias affect an estimated 19.2 million adult Americans and are twice as common in women as men.

6.  They usually appear in childhood or adolescence and tend to persist into adulthood.

7.  The causes of specific phobias are not well understood, but there is some evidence that the tendency to develop them may run in families.

8.  Symptoms associated with phobias are similar to those of a panic attack:

  • pounding heart
  • sweatiness
  • weakness
  • faintness or dizziness.
  • chills
  • numbness and tingling of the hands
  • nausea
  • chest pain, or smothering sensations

9.  A study at Ohio State University showed that the more frighted a person was by spiders, the more they overestimated how big the spider actually was.

10. A Swedish study showed that people aren’t born afraid of spiders and snakes, but fear is quickly learned during infancy.

11. Like many phobias, arachnophobia is most commonly treated with cognitive-behavioral techniques. Sometimes antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications may be added.

12. Another study,   this one at Northwestern University, showed that therapy need not be a long process. One brief session could treat those with arachnophobia, and the effects could last at least 6 months.

Are you afraid of spiders? Or do you have another phobia? Share your experiences with us…

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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