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Animal Phobia Psychology Essay Example

This study examines the causes, effects, symptoms, and exposure treatment of animal phobia. 21 college students with animal phobias voluntarily participated in the research. They were interviewed to establish the causes of zoophobia. During the exposure, various symptoms were discovered, and then the treatment method resembling the famous saying regarding facing your fears was tested. This research also helps demystify and expand the understanding of animal phobia, and explore how serious this condition can be and how to get the treatment. Exploration of the phobia has demonstrated that people have a hereditary inclination to fear of certain sorts of creatures.

Does this animal pose an imminent danger?

Is exposure therapy an effective treatment of animal phobia? Have you ever had chills rolling down your spine when you approach or think of a certain animal? Does this mean you are suffering from the animal phobia? Is animal phobia a mental disorder? How should animal phobia be handled? It is said that the only way to fight the fears is by facing them. This has been regarded as an effective method for a long time; however, it should be investigated if this approach deserves to be considered a useful treatment for animal phobia.

People are all afraid of something. It is easy to take animal phobia for granted and make fun of the victims, but this is a serious condition. “I remember a woman who could not leave her house because she was afraid that she might encounter a snake. She had never seen a snake where she lived, which was suburban Connecticut. She was not just afraid of poisonous snakes. She was afraid of all snakes,” Newman recalls (2015).

Animal phobia is portrayed as an astonishing and outlandish fear of any sort or all animals. While it is normal for anyone to have an anxiety regarding particular sorts of animals, this trepidation does not, for the most part, square the commonplace operation of their lives. For the animal phobic, simply understanding that an encounter with a kind of animal is certain can lead the sufferer to change his or her courses of action, remembering the objective to avoid all animals or specific sorts of animals. This as well as the desire to understand and find a remedy for animal phobia is what prompted this research.

Participants

Participants included 21 college student volunteers (12 females and 9 males) who were keen to understand better and overcome their fears. Potential participants were excluded if they were under special medication or diagnosed with a mental disorder or high blood pressure. Those who were struggling with or had overcome nicotine or caffeine addiction were also excluded.

Material

Various animals were booked in a zoo. Background information on every participant was provided by the volunteers, detailing when and how they came to realize that they were animal phobic. A psychologist was present to make sure that the exposure was controlled, and better observe the participants’ responses. The participants were expected to give feedback on what they felt and memories that were triggered at the sight of specific animals. Some were later asked to interact further with the animals and even touch them. The participants’ reactions were keenly observed and recorded throughout this process.

The animals used in this research were a lizard, snake, turtle, owl, rabbit, lion, dog, monkey, rat, kangaroo, and cat among others. The interaction was conducted in the place where the participant felt most comfortable.

Procedure

At the initial meeting, participants submitted the informed consent. Every consent form contained a relegated identification number and asked for members’ dreaded creatures. The students were then informed that they would be notified by email and phone about their assignment to the experimental group. Members were then given a guidelines sheet. These included directions, which they were acquainted with during the meeting; moreover, they clarified the experimental conditions, elucidated the rules for the animal exposure period, and indicated the date, time, and location of testing.

Every participant was allocated two hours of exposure and study. A break was taken every time it was deemed necessary to make sure that the participants were comfortable with the process and were willing to continue. Some instances of extreme anxiety arose, and two participants had to be withdrawn from the research upon their request. The first 15 minutes were allocated for the participant to talk about the animal in order to get the understanding of his or her perception of the animal. The next 30 minutes, the animal was introduced to the scene as the participant was watching someone else interact with it. Afterward, the participant was allowed to interact with the animal as he or she was being helped overcome the fear. This produced mixed results with some overcoming their fear in less than 30 minutes, while others did not overcome their fear at all.

Results

When the research was initiated, the percentage of animal phobic respondents acquired by means of the conducted oral interviews constituted 98%. The other 2% were not sure if there were animals that they would dread encountering after having assured that they were harmless. 60% of the respondents who were animal phobic said that their phobia started after some past unpleasant encounter. 23% claimed that it started after an encounter that they witnessed. 15% said that their phobia started the first time when they laid eyes on the animal. 1% claimed it was hereditary, and another 1% were not sure how it started.

The participants reacted differently to these animals immediately after they came to sight. Some froze; others went short of breath, trembling, heart racing; and a few ones ran to the other direction screaming. However, one thing was common even with those who composed themselves and remained calm, fear in their eyes.
Two of the participants asked to be withdrawn from the experiment when they were asked to touch the animal. They simply could entertain the thought of it. Therefore, they were recommended to have more hours of professional help and were subsequently withdrawn from the study. The power of touch later happed to be highly appreciated. This was the hardest part for the participants: 40% of the participants who touched the animals managed to overcome their fear. They were comfortable holding and, in some cases, walking the animals. The improvement was evident in every participant as they all had some myths demystified and had positive things to say about the animals.

Cause

The participants gave various perceived and real causes of their conditions. The study demonstrates a connection between a guardian’s fears and that of their child. The child may subconsciously copy the fear of the creature by watching the guardian’s response. Different components that may trigger the fear of a creature are injury, hereditary qualities, and mind chemicals. The fear of animals may emerge amid youth or may happen abruptly during pre-adulthood or adulthood, once in a while happening suddenly when the individual contacts a creature that already did not evoke nervousness (What causes animal phobias?, 2015)

Like all fears, there is no particular all-around explanation for animal phobia. It may be different and extraordinary encounters of every person that prompt the advancement of such an issue. A few cases of encounters that can provoke animal phobia incorporate early life traumatic occasions that involved animals, seeing such occasions, or childhood upbringing by parents or parental figures that focused on an apprehension or abhorrence toward creatures. Notwithstanding, if left untreated, this fear can become worse and further impede the social and enthusiastic existence of the sufferer.

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Symptoms

Modifying the way in which a person leads his or her life would be the primary concern. Evasion is a type of an impulse that appears when people attempt to manage uneasiness.

In order to identify a person that may have an animal phobia, there is a set of characteristics that may help determine the impairment:

  • Sentiments of fear or frenzy when presented to or considering animals
  • Programmed or wild responses when presented to or contemplating animals
  • Fast pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling
  • Compelling evasion of all or particular creatures ( Elsevier B.V., 1971)

In serious cases, individuals may feel sure that they are going to lose their temper, go frantic, lose control of themselves, harm somebody, or do something sickening and embarrassing. Above all else, they feel an overwhelming inclination to escape from the circumstance that they are in. They add to an intense apprehension of rehashing these exceptionally offensive encounters, and this is the thing that begins the fear: the response is facilitated by evading the circumstance, which thus demonstrates that the portion of the brain that controls nervousness, which has minimal genuine ‘sense.’ compels the fundamental and serious reaction. Obviously, these are sentiments, not reality. Practically speaking, even the most exceedingly bad fits of anxiety do not exert any long-term impacts (Nurnberger & Berrettini, 2012).

Treatment

The accompanying cases exhibit the typical strides in treatment. Each step is intended to raise the anxiety levels and uneasiness at first, after which it drops with the repeated exposure:

  • All animal phobic should begin with reading about the dreaded animal. A book with pictures is superior to a simple content. Those apprehensive of snakes, lizards, and insects should master the fear and relax as much as possible. The woman specified above gathered various books on snakes. To begin with, simply holding the book made her on edge. At that point, she continued to peruse about snakes, and watching the pictures with them.
  • Her associate from the Fear Center gave her a toy snake on a string. She understood how to make it crawl.
  • She acquired snake skins from somewhere and kept them in the house. Eventually, she put them on a night table near her bed in her boarding house when she was dozing.
  • She went with her helper to a pet store and watched a snake in an aquarium from distance, and after that closer and closer (Watching snakes, which are typically snoozing, is characteristically exhausting.).
  • She watched her assistant handle a snake. She touched the snake.
  • She reached a natural point where she learnt how to handle snakes. She learned that when you drop a snake on the ground, it goes far from you (Neuman, 2015).

Keeping in mind the end goal to treat trepidation of creatures, a person has numerous alternatives.

Here are a couple of things that people should do to acquire some assistance with overcoming the trepidation of animals:

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What is the source of your animal phobia?

Do you realize that a few kids dread animals not on account that an animal hurt them but rather on the grounds that they saw the reaction of their frightened guardian when he or she saw a certain animal? A vital piece of treatment of the animal phobia is to understand that occasionally your reasons for alarm are the aftereffect of watching another person reacting with apprehension toward a certain animal.

Fix your negative thinking: If you managed to understand how to dispose of negative intuition, for example, over speculation, you will find that treating your apprehension of creatures has become simpler. Moreover, if you realize that the creature that hurt you one day was an awful one and that not all creatures are the same, you will have the capacity to dispose of zoophobia.
Gradual Exposure: There is no need to do this all alone. You should better have somebody help you with it. Progressively, open yourself to that creature and at whatever point you feel in control, expand the force of the introduction. For example, if you have the fear of felines, then take a stab at strolling close to one. Continue doing so until you feel great and after that proceed onward to the following level, which is to touch a feline. Again, once you regain control, you can move to the following level which is to convey the feline, etc. By a wide margin, this is one of the best treatment systems for animal phobia (Craske, Antony, & Barlow, 2006).

In the same way as other fears, treatment for the issue is normally best left to a mental health practitioner. The objective of any such master is first to focus on the introductory actuating variable that created the individual’s irrational and great fear. The patient and therapist discuss why the fear is unwarranted, how they can grapple with any traumatic encounters that induced the fear, and additionally approaches to manage the indications of the condition. This sort of treatment is normally exceptionally viable with a dominant part of patients totally overcoming or effectively adapting to creature; fear indication are absent for a considerable length of time, even for the rest of their lives.

A few therapists opt for the cognitive behavioral therapy. With this kind of treatment, the patient meets with the specialist and in an orderly and continuous therapy realizes the source of apprehension while learning how to control the physical and mental responses to it. By confronting the fear head on, the patient gets to be accustomed to it and in this way eventually understands that his or her initial apprehension bore no genuine or impending risk.

A person looking for help with the animal phobia will have no problem finding some assistance. There are a lot of therapists and peer groups willing to assist with the issue as well as the psychological troubles adherent to it. If self-help does not work, do not falter to contact such groups or specialists to help you (Animal phobia, 2015).

The research presented some insight into the matter of animal phobia, which can be used for further studies of the issue. The improvement of the participants’ perception of various animals was groundbreaking. Fear is present in everyone of us; what makes the difference is what we do with it. If you let it control you, it will rule your life. From this research, it has become obvious that animal phobia is a mental disorder caused by an advanced fear of the animals. The symptoms are merely induced by the brain telling you what you already have programmed it to know as dangerous. The treatment is to simply make a decisive move: be determined, reprogram the brain, and make sure that the fear does not get to control your life.

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