Why am I afraid of mice?
We’ve all seen those scenes in the blockbuster movies - mice crawling along the pipes in Home Alone to instil a sense of abandonment. Or a Disney animation where an elephant jumps 10 feet in the air and shrieks over the appearance of a tiny mouse. Or even the Friends episode where Phoebe has pet rodents living in her apartment. These little creatures have been painted in such a way that the negative association has rubbed off on us somewhat. So those scenes will give you some idea of what musophobia actually is. Musophobia, the intense fear of mice, rats and other rodents (mus being Latin for mice) is not entirely unreasonable. While there are studies which confirm that elephants do appear to have a disproportionate reaction when surprised by a mouse, humans have plenty of reasons to fear mice, therefore, true musophobia is no laughing matter.
Firstly, understanding if you are in fact afraid of mice is empowering. Knowing what you are responding to with regards to phobias is the first step in taking control of how you feel and respond. So, does the thought of mice in your home make your stomach sink? If there's a mouse in the room, is your first instinct to get out? These are pretty clear indicators of your feelings towards the little creatures, and your musophobia, a fear of rodents. It comes as no surprise that people with musophobia are not keen on rodents within their house; it makes sense! Rodents can be bad news, and these fears come with an interesting, but very logical history.
Did someone mention the Plague?
There are a number of reputable sources which will tell you everything you need to know, to develop a healthy fear of mice. The overarching theme? Disease. The list of common diseases that they carry numbers more than a dozen. From the Hantavirus, to Lassa Fever, to Salmonellosis, to Leptospirosis (that one mentioned in Friends), each disease poses a significant threat to our health. Not to mention the Plague. The so-called Black Death, or bubonic plague, that decimated a third of the European population in the 14th century was caused by a bacteria, which was carried on the backs of rodents by fleas. All things considered, this is enough to instil a sense of fear in mice, irrespective of their size.
Damage or even destruction
If the risk rodents pose to your health isn't the underlying reason why you fear mice, perhaps the damage they can do to your home is the driving force behind why you have a phobia of them. Mice are well known to chew on just about anything they can get their sharp little teeth on, such wood, paper, cloth, books, furniture, insulation and, most significantly, electrical wiring. The potential damage, including fire risk with the electrics, and the related cost, would drive up any homeowners anxiety. Mice will also go after any food in your home that isn’t sealed, which not only destroys your food store but also circles right back to disease, as contaminated food can be a health risk.
Are there other reasons to fear mice?
Musophobia is just like other phobias in that some of the reasons people fear mice are more of a learned response. Those who have had a traumatic experience in their childhood, for example, may fear rodents as adults. Alternatively, exposure to an adult who demonstrated fearful behaviour towards a mouse, like screaming or climbing up on a chair to get away, will create a similar, negative association with those creatures. Essentially, a personal experience can absolutely dictate the intensity of a phobia towards mice.
Now that you might have a greater sense of why you are afraid of mice, and similar rodents, it’s perhaps time to start addressing your phobia. That’s where oVRcome step in - supporting individuals with phobias and social anxiety through a carefully curated approach twinning psychological support and exposure therapy. As the team continues to create programmes, such as for a fear of mice, why not have a read of some of our earlier articles which give you a sense of the ways in which exposure therapy through virtual reality can support you in your fears?