The fear of sharks is known as galeophobia. When a person fears sharks, they will shun waters where sharks swim, and they will be terrified by media reports of shark attacks. People with this phobia will avoid documentaries and films that feature the shark.
Why Do People Fear Sharks?
It’s not hard to ascertain why some men, women and children dread sharks and shark attacks. The appearance of a shark can be frightening to almost anyone. The long, tubular body and rows of razor sharp teeth that allow a shark to move silently through deep waters and attack prey can be terrifying. Sharks have existed since prehistoric times. Their sleek shape and large jaws make them streamlined, efficient predators.
A shark is all instinct. It seems to kill with eyes that are cold and devoid of emotion. This primitive element of cold-blooded hunting behavior is one of the primary reasons why people develop galeophobia.
Sharks In Film and Modern Culture
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The film Jaws was a real trigger for many phobic people. The huge, terrifying shark they used in the film was really animatronic (a robotic model), but it seemed very realistic for the time period. Jaws was released in 1975, and it was based on a novel written by Peter Benchley. In the film and novel, a great white shark wreaks havoc on a peaceful tourist resort. The posters used in ads showed a beautiful young woman, swimming in deep azure waters. She seemed oblivious to the doom that lurked just below the surface. A shark is underneath her as she swims, poised to attack. This frightening image triggered fear of sharks in many people.
This stunning documentary put a different face on society’s preconceived notions about sharks and they danger they present. Filmmaker Rob Stewart has always been fascinated by sharks, and he sought to show the world they way human beings prey on the creatures, in order to harvest their fins for profit. He showed that we are a bigger danger to sharks than they are to us. His documentary received critical acclaim, and it may have eased galephobia in some people.
Shark Attacks In The Media
We often hear about unlucky surfers or swimmers who suffer death or gruesome injuries from sharks. On March 20th of this year, a fatal shark attack occured at Second Beach in Transkei, South Africa. A tiger shark attacked a teenager swimming in the water, causing loss of blood that led to his death.
These accounts are tragic and scary. It’s impossible to ignore the specter of shark attacks when swimming in infested waters. Some people will not swim anywhere that sharks are known to travel. Who is to say that their phobia is not justified?
Although shark attacks are rare, they occur frequently enough to cause real alarm. Some areas suffer from more attacks than others. For example, South Africa, Australia, and Florida are common areas where the fear of sharks is intensified, due to the local shark population. Higher numbers of sharks means more encounters with human beings.
Symptoms Of Fear Of Sharks
In the person who fears sharks, panic is an involuntary response. The sight of a shark, even on television or in a theatre, will evoke great consternation and terror. People with this phobia will suffer from racing heartbeat, nervousness, mental anguish, and even dizziness as they struggle with their fears.
They will take pains to stay away from any locales where sharks are present, including some beaches, and even aquariums where sharks are displayed. Some popular attractions for viewing sharks, such as the Shark Encounter at Sea World in Orlando, Florida, will be carefully avoided. At the Shark Encounter, patrons can experience a shark encounter close up, within an acrylic cage. They are accompanied by a qualified instructor, and clad in Scuba gear. People who want to face their fear of sharks, or simply be close to the notorious creatures, pay 150 dollars for the privilege of being in the water with them.
Treatment Of Fear Of Sharks – Overcoming the Phobia
Avoidance is one method of treating this phobia. It’s fairly easy to avoid images of sharks in film and television, and beaches were sharks congregate can be researched so the phobic person knows what to stay away from. But this will not cure the phobia itself.
Only psychotherapy and hypnotherapy will really ease the galeophobia some people experience. There must be cognitive therapy that gets at the heart of a person’s responses and the real reasons why sharks trigger terror in their psyche.
The fear of sharks is also referred to as:
- shark phobias
- fear of shark phobia name
- phobia of sharks
- how to overcome fear of sharks