Fear of Reptiles or Creepy, Crawly Things – Herpetophobia

Most people don’t automatically equate reptiles with the term “warm and fuzzy”, yet many of those same individuals are not prone to fearing the reptilian skinned creatures. These creatures often eat small mammals, fish or even insects. They do not make humans a target in order to fulfill their food needs. Those who fear reptiles or other creepy, crawly things are said to have Herpetophobia.

The vast majority of reptiles work to stay out of your way, yet for the most part they are avoided and feared. It is right to have a healthy respect for reptiles, but generally speaking a phobic response is not necessary.

What Causes Herpetophobia?

Sometimes the greatest fear an individual can experience comes from a close encounter with the creature. Almost stepping on a reptile can leave a lasting impression. Having one run across your foot can leave you with phantom reenactments of the encounter. Personal experience can be a powerful enticement to fear.

If you have ever had a relative or close friend talk negatively about reptiles then you are likely to be more prone to fearing the creatures. Cori was deathly afraid of snakes, Her son Dennis was not. He relates the story of a time when he and his mom were on a walk and a harmless snake crawled over his mother’s shoe when they had stopped to rest. He was certain that if he said anything his mom would experience a panic attack that could result in personal harm. This story may not be typical because in many cases the child has as much if not more fear than the parent when they learn to fear by observing that fear in others.

Beyond personal encounters and learned behaviors there is also a sense of obsession that can lead to fear. When you obsess about reptiles by watching movies or television shows that feature them the very thing that fascinates you about the reptile can lead to fear because the object of the fear becomes magnified and result can leave you overwhelmed.

Symptoms of Herpetophobia

An individual with this fear will not be interested in visiting a zoo or perhaps even an aquarium IF reptiles have a spot in the facility. They may be less likely to go outdoors and will likely resist nature shows on television.

Other symptoms may also include:

  • Air hunger
  • Nausea
  • Trembling
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Screaming
  • Crying
  • A sense of control loss

This fear can leave individuals feeling as if their skin is crawling if they even suspect a reptile is nearby.

How to Overcome Herpetophobia

Visiting with a therapist can be an important way to discover that a battle against fear is winnable. You will learn that the fear you experience is only as fearful as you allow it to be. You will learn that you have a choice in how you respond and you will learn the best way to engage the fear response for better management with future occurrences.

The fear of reptiles or creepy, crawly things is also referred to as:

  • Reptile fear
  • Creepy, crawly things fear
  • Herpetophobia
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