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Coupe

Well-Known Member
I developed pretty serious arachnophobia when I was a young kid....I recall not being fond of them when I was much younger, and I think I was even scared of the illustrations of an evil spider from one of the Miss Spider books - I think it was Miss Spider's Wedding - at one point in the book, Miss Spider's jealous suitor, Spiderus Reeves, becomes angered with her to the point of apparently breathing fire, and is later shown seeking out and attempting to strangle her smaller, weaker betrothed. What really pushed things over the edge, however, was reading a really frightening "true" story in a Highlights magazine (of all places) about someone having a near-catastrophic reaction to a black widow spider bite. For my 8-ish-year-old self, this, I think, is what cemented my conviction that all spiders were "bad."

This phobia followed me all through adolescence and early adulthood....every night, I would do what I called "perimeter checks" around the walls and ceilings of my bedroom, or any room I was going to be spending extended amounts of time in. This was to check for spiders crawling around or building webs in the corners. I would become very distressed/angry when I was prevented from doing this, or if my reasons for doing so were invalidated. I also tend to avoid specific movies due to this phobia, such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry and Ron being attacked by Aragog's hungry offspring in the Dark Forest), Jumanji (tarantulas in the attic) and the Hobbit/LOTR movies that involve kidnappings by gigantic arachnids.

Very recently, however, I happened to see Ralph Bakshi's movie "Cool World," which has (I think) an incredibly endearing anthropomorphic spider character named "Nails." Contrary to my stark dichotomy of spiders being "bad," or "evil," Nails is extremely friendly, talkative, anxious to please, and is just CUTE.



Isn't he adorable? :) I think he is, anyway. There's this part where he and the human detective he works with in Cool World are having to scale the side of a building, and Nails' job is to do most of the climbing (spiders are far better at that than humans, after all). His partner asks him how much further they have to climb, and Nails replies that he thinks they must be halfway up. One of the gargoyles Nails is face-to-face with comes to life and then chimes in with, "...Or halfway down." Nails' response to this somewhat gloating input is a cheerful "Thanks!" and he gives the gargoyle a hug. I've seen several Ralph Bakshi fans comment that while they feel that "Cool World" wasn't Bakshi's best, Nails was quite the scene stealer. :) He's also allergic to clouds and eats a desk at one point. XD

I just never really conceptualized spiders as having the capacity to be cute, endearing, and lovable. I mean, I know there's Charlotte from Charlotte's Web, Miss Spider (as I mentioned above) and Rosie from A Bug's Life, but none of them ever really grabbed my attention or "spoke" to me the way Nails does. I have a bunch of pics of him on my phone, which I like looking at. Not only that, but I found a really cute little spider plushie at a Hallmark that was super marked-down since he'd been there so long, so of course he came home with me:



.....Three guesses as to what I named him. ;)

I also found a cute tarantula plushie at the mall one day and named her "Hammer." XD Hammer is actually very unique b/c she's missing a leg...they just forgot to attach an eighth leg to her when she was being manufactured, I guess. She's very fuzzy and soft, and I'm okay with the fact that she's a realistic plush depiction of a tarantula. I wasn't sure if I would be ok with a realistic plush spider before. I've also found other cute spider plushies on Ebay...one is a Beanie Baby that is a realistic plush tarantula like Hammer (his name is going to be "Fuzzbutt") a Miss Spider plush, and a cute Littlest Pet Shop spider plush who is going to be named "Drillbit." XD What I want to do is sort of acclimate myself to harmless, cute versions of the creatures that formerly terrified me, in order to desensitize myself.

I think I'm making progress already - for instance, I'm now able to look at pictures of spiders online w/out having my heart beat rapidly or my breath quicken. My favorites are the pictures of the fuzzy little jumping spiders. :) Wish someone made plushies of them, too. I'm nowhere CLOSE to arachnophobia no longer being an issue, however....I still have issues with the thought of having to share my room with a spider spinning a web in the corner, and I'm CERTAINLY not ready to go to the zoo, march into the Vertebrate House, and ask to pet the biggest, hairiest, most bad-tempered tarantula they have.

...Which brings me to the most important part of this somewhat aimless post....

This type of approach may not work for everyone, but if you are trying to work through any phobia this way, it is imperative that you feel safe and comfortable with what is happening at all times. Go as slowly as you need to and take all the time with each "phase" that you need to, as well. No one should be pressuring/rushing you into anything you aren't 100% ready for yet, and anyone who does (and continues to do so even after you ask them not to) no longer needs to be involved with the process. I have heard that it is often the case that rushing a desensitization process past what a person feels ready for can actually set the person back in terms of progress.

...So, this is how I've been trying to conquer my phobia of spiders. Since so many of their species are harmless, and are actually quite fascinating, I would like to get to a point where I can feel safe around them.
 
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Great job! While I don't have arachnophobia, a Black Widow or Brown Recluse's presence will guarantee a VIOLENT attack on it! Samem with wasps, bees, or venomous snakes. I will pursue them aggressively with the sole intent of bringing about as brutal and painful an end as possible. Note that it's only venomous animals the produce that reaction, though I did beat a rabid possum until it was flat for snarling at me. I don't tolerate aggressive/venomous animals AT ALL!
 
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