Fear of Snakes
Fear Of Snakes
The fear of snakes is one of the most rational fears known to man
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines "fear" as: A painful emotion caused by impending danger or evil.
Being fearful of something that has the potential to harm us is quite normal. Being afraid of snakes is perfectly natural and signifies a healthy respect towards the snake.
Typically, people fear snakes for their venom, and the possibility that their lives may be in danger. Despite their fear most people are quite happy to read and learn about them.
A typical ophidiophobic however, fears the very thought of snakes, cannot watch them on television, nor even look at a picture of one. This is an "irrational" fear which can lead to panic attacks and even severe disability.
The origin of the word ophidiophobia is Greek. "ophis" refers to serpents, or snakes, and "phobia" meaning fear.
Symptoms of ophidiophobia may include heart palpitations, difficulty in breathing, and seizures.
There are two theories as to why most people fear snakes. Some scientists believe that the fear may be evolutionary, whilst others believe that fear is learned rather than innate.
We will look at both of these theories......You decide
We already know that reptiles ruled the earth long before the first mammal appeared some 100 million years ago. From that it is safe to assume that early mammals would have featured quite highly as prey species (as they are today).
Scientists believe that this signified the start of an evolutionary arms race between predator (snakes), and prey (mammals).
This predator-prey relationship would have triggered various radical changes within both camps in order to ensure the survival of the species.
To avoid being eaten, mammals would have had to develop ways to both avoid and detect snakes before they could strike.
Forward facing eyes helps with depth perception. Scientist refer to this as "orbital convergence".
The ability to see in colour would have also assisted early mammals in detecting would-be predators. The ability to detect predators would be an advantage to survive and in turn reproduce. It makes sense that the primates able to detect snakes would be more likely to pass on their genes.
Humans are descended from those primates and therefore our instinctual fear of snakes can be traced back to those early primates.
It is a known fact that unfamiliarity causes apprehension, and inadvertedly, fear. Children are taught to fear snakes from an early age. Children are exposed to this fear long before they can walk, let alone understand the rationality of the fear.
Legends, myths, cultural beliefs, religeous doctrines, and parental beliefs all contribute to a child's psychological make-up.
We are taught to fear all that is unknown to us.
Unless we make a concerted effort, as adults, to question and understand that which we were taught to fear, then those childhood fears remain with us for our entire lives.
The media, cinema, as well as literature, are all powerful tools used to shape our belief system. A fine example of this is Peter Benchleys' best selling novel "Jaws" and how that changed our perception of sharks.
Fear of snakes can also occur from a personal or traumatic experience with a snake.
Can ophidiophobia be treated?
Absolutely. The most common treatment for this is based on cognitive-behavioural therapy techniques.
How can we overcome our fear of snakes?
The answer is simple.....
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