Crippling fear of anything isn’t healthy. Usually, there’s always a cause that develops the phobia called ophidiophobia.
I remember like it was yesterday the day I started fearing snakes. It got so intense that even the mention of one would freeze my blood.
It was a normal summer night. I stepped foot in one of our washrooms (it had one entrance towards the backyard), and the next thing I see is a long rope-like thing crawling under the washbasin.
A bulky frog was lying half-dead near the backyard’s entrance door. Fast-forwarding the chain of events that took place after that, I will tell you the end scene. My dad killed that monster and showed me another dead body of a frog lying in its intestine.
How to Overcome Fear of Snakes?
While I felt normal knowing that 2% – 3% of people have ophidiophobia, the idea of snake anxiety controlling me all my life didn’t sit well with me. So, I started my homework. The things shared below have helped around 90% of the people overcome their fear of the reptile, stated in the medical review of an expert named Dan Brennan, MD.
Causes of Snake-Phobia
Ophidiophobia is just like any other disorder or illness, having a couple of main factors that cause it. Some of these include:
- A real-life traumatic experience – (either personal or witnessed), especially one in childhood – just like the one I had.
- Learned through adults.
- Negative portrayal through popular media.
Some of the common treatment techniques that are known to have positive outcomes are:
Exposure Therapy: You can call it “systematic desensitization.” It’s a type of talk therapy where your therapist exposes you to the creature in a non-threatening environment – through pictures and videos. You might also be exposed to real snakes in a controlled environment like a zoo.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): In this form of talk therapy, a therapist usually uses a hands-on problem-solving method to slowly and gradually change your perception of the problem. A lecture or two from herpetologists will help you learn more about the reptile so that you can overcome your fear.
Medication: There are drugs/sedatives that help therapists prescribe to help you relax. The medicine will calm you down when you’re in the throes of a panic attack. However, a great majority of medical experts prefer counselling instead of drugs as they lead to dependence.
Other Ways to Cope with Your Fear of Snakes:
According to experts and online therapies for phobias, there are several other simple steps that you can take to cope with this irrational fear of snakes.
Writing: Jot down things about the creature that arouse fear. Describe why they give you heebie-jeebies. You might realise that most of them are misconceptions spread through rumours, words of adults or frightening stories.
Identify Cause of Your Fear: Ask yourself why you’re afraid of them? If it happened because you were once bitten by a snake or witnessed someone else get attacked, seek professional counselling.
Mostly, people learn to fear snakes. Myths and tales about snakes, movies and portrayal through other media sources present them as fearful creatures. If you research in detail or listen to herpetologists, you will find out that most of what you learned from the media and by word of mouth had little truth in it. Learn all there’s to know about snakes – every hard fact that you can find. Now decide whether your fear is justified or not?
Familiarise Yourself: Familiarise yourself with the terror-inducing enemy by observing it. Watch snake videos and documentaries. Examine and micro-examine pictures of snakes. See how they move and act – both normally and under specific circumstances. Heck, observe how do they even breathe and blink.
Optimistic Mindset: Most of the snakes are non-venomous and harmless. The poor creatures are maligned. Keeping these facts in mind, keep telling yourself that your fears are unwarranted. You know, fake it till you make it!
Challenge Yourself: You can start with a toy snake. Handle a cute stuffed toy snake in the beginning. Afterward, up the challenge by tackling a rubber dummy.
Intensify the game a little more once you get accustomed to the replica. Run your fingers over an item made of snakeskin or the actual snakeskin shed by the animal to see how the texture feels.
All good? It means you’re qualified to move to the hardest levels. Deal with the real thing. Visit a local zoo or nearby pet store to get a close look at the actual living and moving creature. When you realize you’re ready enough, try holding a real snake in your hands.
Wow, look at that, you didn’t faint! Congratulations! You’ve now officially overcome your fear of snakes.
It is okay to admit that snakes give you heebie-jeebies; it’s a common fear. What is not okay is to let that fear control your life. A little research will tell you that majority of the things that scare the living daylights out of you have little to no veracity. I jotted down everything that helped me conquer the fear. You can also break the shackles of this fear; all you need is a little help (both from family members and professional therapists), bravery and perseverance.