Snake phobia: everything you need to know about ophiophobia

Snake phobia causes panic and uncontrollable fear at the mere mention of these reptiles. Like any phobia, it can be the cause of anxiety disorders and complicate the day-to-day life of people who suffer from it. However, she is often taken lightly by those around her., which places reactions under the sign of caprice or immaturity. How do we know if we really have it? What are the solutions to overcome it or, at least, mitigate its impact?

What is ophiophobia?

ophiophobia is one of the most common phobias, cataloged as zoophobia (phobias related to animals). from ancient greek Ophis What does “serpent” mean? phobia which means “fear”, designates snake phobia.

As mentioned above, it is characterized by an irrational, and therefore insurmountable, fear of snakes. Anxiety can be triggered just by seeing a figure, a photograph, or even reading the word. It is usually associated with herpetophobia, the panic fear of reptiles of all kinds: crocodiles, iguanas, turtles, chameleons, etc.).

Phobia of snakes: why are we afraid of these reptiles?

Specifically, ophiophobes disproportionately fear bites, but also the risk of suffocation, or being swallowed alive. they are afraid of suffering a fatal attack.

According to some historians and anthropologists, this phobia could be inscribed in the traumatic memory of men since prehistoric times. Throughout evolution, Man would have thus learned to distrust these dangerous reptiles, due to their potentially fatal bites. He would have developed a deep-seated survival instinct, which still persists today. This is called the Snake detection theory popularized in 2006 by ethnologist Lynne A. Esbell, who suggested that primate brains evolved to have the innate ability to visually detect snakes and their unique characteristics.

But this phenomenon can be explained mainly by a past traumatic experience, experienced in childhood or adulthood (a snake bite, a difficult situation in the presence of a snake, comments heard about the danger of snakes, etc.).

Not to mention that snakes, like other predators, have a pretty bad reputation. Literature, cinema and popular culture rarely praise him, one thinks for example of the tempting snake ofAdam and Eve, in Kaa in the Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling, to the snake of little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, etc. So many references that feed hostility towards these creeping animals.

Phobia to snakes: what signs should alert?

Who wants is not phobic. Must distinguish the ophiophobia suffered from the “simple” fear of snakes. Several attitudes can make a difference:

  • the fear of coming face to face with a snake and suffering a fatal attack;
  • the impossibility of going to places where you can find snakes (zoos or nurseries, for example);
  • the inability to read a book or listen to a story that mentions a snake;
  • the impossibility of looking at photos or movies starring a snake;
  • the recurring occurrence of nightmares involving these hissing reptiles;
  • etc.

True ophiophobes have no control over their feelings. When confronted with the object of their dread, they may burst into tears for fear of dying. But they can also manifest themselves through other typical symptoms of phobias:

  • nausea ;
  • heart palpitation;
  • tremors;
  • excessive sweating;
  • dizziness or even fainting.

As with arachnophobia, coulrophobia or trypophobia, the treatment of ophiophobia usually involves psychotherapeutic work (psychoanalysis or behavioral and cognitive therapy, for example). Objective: return to the origins of this irrational fear and gradually expose yourself to the object of the phobia, to regain control.

the breathing techniques, relaxation and positive projection They have also proven their worth.

Finally, if the phobia turns out to be too all-consuming, certain anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to control anxiety attacks.

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