SPIDERS! We clearly have an issue with the scurriers..here's some advice!

Story by Gavan Becton

Friday, 28th September, 2018 5:54pm

SPIDERS! We clearly have an issue with the scurriers..here's some advice!

Spiders are a real bug bear for many of us

Dr Eddie Murphy on our fascination and phobia of all things arachnid and how we can conquer that fear.


My own boy Oisin (10) hops out of the shower, soap suds in the hair shouting Daddy I can’t go back in there? Why? Because there is a big spider up in the corner! It was a Daddy Long legs. So I thought I would use Google and we could all learn that Daddy Long legs are called; Pholcus phalangioides.

Regardless, many people scared of spiders and I will have to do some little treatment for Oisin so he can do a ‘Catch and Release’ This time of year female spiders come into homes on the hunt for a mate as they normally house spiders usually seek shelter in September, but it seems the arachnids have arrived slightly earlier this year. In fact female spiders can stay in your home for the whole of their seven year life span! Run and get the hoover!


Teasing sir legsalot #bigspider #uglyhure

A post shared by David Kelly (@thesofamaster) on

David Kelly captured this brilliant tug of war with a territorial menace

Why Fears develop?

Arachnophobia is the name given to a fear of spiders. The understanding of spiders as bad and scary is not common for all cultures, but is rather usual for us in Irelands, US & UK. The spider gets a bad rap in the media often portrayed as villains in children's books and then as monsters in horror movies. When you look at countries like Cambodia, where spiders are commonly eaten, none of the fear or cultural dislike of spiders exist. So really, you would not be afraid of spiders, if you never had the opportunity to fear them!

Another possible reason relates to evolutionary psychology where we developed a fear of spiders as a survival mechanism (after all there were no antidotes) built into our minds and that people with spider phobia simply have a greater connection to their survival instincts.

Potty Training was put on hold here (pic; David Kelly)

Handling Spiders...(yes, handling them)

For most people, the thought of handling a spider isn’t a pleasant one — but for those with arachnophobia, it’s downright terrifying. So it takes a particularly motivated individual suffering from such an intense fear to willingly put themselves into spiders way.

You know if you want you could get rid of this fear in a few hours. I think It would make a good documentary! In such a workshop with tools you would get over your fear of spiders! Instead of the fear avoidance response you would need to learn self-calming techniques so that you can use these to build courage to take back control of your fear based emotions.

Best place for them..outdoors (PIC: Lisa Cross)


Exposure therapy is a psychological treatment that was developed to help people confront their fears. When people are fearful of something, they tend to avoid the feared objects, activities, or situations, in this case spiders. Although you can replace spiders with dogs, flying, thunder etc. Although this avoidance might help reduce feelings of fear in the short term, over the long term it can make the fear become even worse. In such situations, as a psychologist I would recommend program of exposure therapy in order to help break the pattern of avoidance and fear.

Linda Smith had this one run into the corner

Safety - you are always in control

We start off by creating a safe environment. The task at the end is to catch and release a spider or even hold a spider, a little one! This safe environment in which to "expose" individuals to the things allows then to confront fear and avoidance. Exposure therapy has been scientifically demonstrated to be a helpful treatment or treatment component for a range of problems, including: Phobias, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, OCD, PTSD, & Generalized Anxiety.

There are several variations of exposure therapy.

1. In vivo exposure: Directly facing a feared object, situation, or activity in real life. For example, someone with a fear of spiders would be guided to handle the spider.

2. Imaginal exposure: Vividly imagining the feared object, situation, or activity.

3. Virtual reality exposure: Virtual reality technology can be used

Exposure therapy can also be paced in different ways.

1. Graded exposure: The psychologist helps the client construct an exposure fear hierarchy, in which feared objects, activities, or situations are ranked according to difficulty. They begin with mildly or moderately difficult exposures, then progress to harder ones.

2. Flooding: Using the exposure fear hierarchy to begin exposure with the most difficult tasks.

3. Systematic Desensitization: Exposure is combined with relaxation exercises to make you feel more manageable and to associate the feared objects with relaxation.

They're just adorable really!

Why Exposure Therapy Works

1. Habituation: Over time, people find that their reactions to feared objects or situations decrease.

2. Extinction: Exposure can help weaken previously-learned associations between feared objects, activities,

3. Self-efficacy: Exposure can help show you that you are capable of confronting you fears and can manage your feelings of anxiety.

4. Emotional processing: During exposure, you learn to attach new, more realistic beliefs about feared objects i.e spiders, become more comfortable with the experience of fear.

The key takeaway message; is that phobia’s are very treatable and psychological science gives us the tools to feel the fear and do it anyway.

And finally we leave you with Marian Carolan's lodger.

Dr Eddie Murphy