Fear of Snakes – Ophidiophobia

Since Adam and Eve’s encounter with a serpent in the Garden of Eden mankind has expressed a great fear of the snake. When a healthy respect for the danger of some snakes becomes an uncontrollable fear the term Ophidiophobia is used.

I bring up a subtle difference because it is important. You can have a fear of snakes with respect to their potential to inflict a venomous bite or even to crush by squeezing and it may not be classified as a phobia. However, when you demonstrate fear simply by looking at pictures or video of snakes you may be an ophidiophobe.

Fear Origins

You can almost always go back to a parent’s introduction of the fear of snakes when dealing with Ophidiophobia. Children are taught from a young age to avoid snakes. It is even possible that parents will reinforce the fear in a controlled setting where trained snake handlers attempt to demonstrate that not all snakes are dangerous. Parents can do this by involuntarily shielding their child from a controlled introduction to the snake.

The fear is further amplified when watching movies like Anaconda or Snakes on a Plane or even Raiders of the Lost Ark.

A fear of snakes can actually have a general tie to a fear of animals, amphibians or reptiles. If you don’t often encounter snakes you can also develop a strong reaction when coming in close contact with a snake. That reaction can lead to a phobia.

Signs of Fear

There may who will encounter a snake and have one of two very opposite reactions. In one case they may effectively become paralyzed by their fear and not move even if everything within them is screaming for them to move. The other extreme is to run and keep running away from the source of their fear.

Additional signssnake-2

  • Hysteria
  • Crying
  • Shaking
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty catching your breath

This will be mentioned periodically, but when you do not address an irrational fear or phobia it can actually morph into more pronounced fears of things you previously had no fear of. It seems that when a fear is allowed to grow unchecked in our minds it can become large enough to include other areas of fear. In turn this new and larger fear may be much more difficult to control.

Overcoming the Fear of Snakes

One of the more novel approaches to dealing with this fear is to find a snake expert and sit down with them to ask any question about snakes you want. Because snakes have no legs there can be questions about their movement, how they procreate or even how they go to the bathroom. Spending some time learning about snakes can help them seem less eerie and evil.

Some have suggested direct therapy involving the handling of snakes is a positive step in overcoming fear, but there is a growing body of evidence that suggests when you skip helping the individual understand the snake and get used to the idea of being in close proximity to the snake you may actually be making the fear significantly larger in their minds.

In severe cases there may be victory in simply allowing the ophidiophobe to become comfortable with having a picture of a snake in the same room.   Phobias conquering takes time, and patience will always be an important key in the recovery process.

Have you taken any steps to overcoming your fear of snakes? What steps have you taken? Which seemed most helpful? How has overcoming this (or any other fear) helped you?

The fear of snakes is also referred to as:

  • snake phobias
  • fear of snake phobia name
  • phobia of snakes
  • snake phobia fear of
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