• Liam Tracey

Bugs? No thanks!

Updated: Aug 24

How often do you find yourself worrying about the presence of flies or insects roaming around your home? Have you ever noticed yourself obsessing over the possibility that there will be all kinds of strange bugs in your hotel room or resort when you are travelling? Do you find yourself breaking out in a cold sweat as soon as you hear the buzzing of some flying insect? Does the mere mention of bugs summon images of creepy crawlies and make you shudder? You could have entomophobia.


Bug phobias are no joke


Friends and family might tease you, and some might even call you a wimp, but sadly embarrassment only compounds the problem. Their thinking is very simple - why should something so insignificant creep you out? After all, most bugs are relatively harmless and you can be rid of them easily. What’s more, many bugs are actually good for us and the environments that we live in. Who can imagine a garden without ladybirds, butterflies and bees?


But that’s just it, however reassuring these viewpoints may be, logical arguments don’t help much when you find yourself paralysed in the presence of something which you fear. If your symptoms drastically affect your ability to live what you would consider a normal existence, your anxiety is no laughing matter.


You may actually be suffering from entomophobia, which is the persistent fear of insects. Like all phobias, a fear of bugs is a condition that is to be taken seriously. Just as we wouldn’t mock individuals who suffer crippling panic attacks in confined spaces (claustrophobia) or whose social anxiety is so severe that they can’t leave their homes (agoraphobia), we need to respect the distress associated with a phobia of insects.


Understanding your entomophobia


Individuals suffering from phobias unconsciously or instinctively exaggerate the perceived threat of a particular stimulus, be it heights, blood or bugs. The reason for this? All phobias are similar in that they are a persistent and unreasonable fear of a certain object, which poses little to no actual danger. So understanding why you might have a phobia of insects is a similar process to how someone might unpack their fear of heights.


Some individuals recognise that formative experiences have formed the basis for their fears. It can take just one negative experience as a child with all kinds of things to form a negative frame of mind, which will descend into a full phobia over time.


There is scientific research that suggests that phobias could be hereditary, or passed from parent to child through a combination of genes and learned behaviours. This also rings true when we consider the fight or flight response which is ingrained in all of us. As a response, it is rooted in our being from evolution as neanderthals, where we learned what posed a threat and how to react accordingly.


Considering such factors, reflecting on our lived experiences of insects and how it might be informing our phobia will unlock a pathway to proactively managing it.


There is a way to overcome it


There are a number of ways which have proven to be successful in helping individuals overcome their phobias, and entomophobia is no different. Known as exposure therapy, the process involves introducing the patient to the actual source of their phobia. This is administered carefully, gradually and under close supervision of a psychologist, who also supports individuals to explore possible root causes for their fear. Central to this approach is also about developing proactive actions to manage themselves and their physical, mental and emotional response to the stimulus. What is more, this approach is undergoing a 21st century revamp, where virtual reality experiences are used to deliver the exposure to triggers. So, without ever coming close to an actual insect, you can be supported in how to manage your response as if it was right there beside you.


 

Do you have a fear of insects? Take the free fear of insects test to check your severity and to receive a free custom report with actionable insights on how to overcome it.


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