Arachnophobia (from Greek arachne (αράχνη), "spider" and phobia (φοβία), "fear" ) is a specific phobia, an abnormal fear of spiders. It is among the most common of all phobias. The reactions of arachnophobics often seem irrational to others (and sometimes to the sufferers themselves). People with arachnophobia tend to feel uneasy in any area they believe could harbor spiders or that has visible signs of their presence, such as webs. If arachnophobics see a spider they may not enter the general vicinity until they have overcome the panic attack that is often associated with their phobia. In some cases, even a picture or a realistic drawing of a spider can also evoke fear. They may feel humiliated if such episodes happen in the presence of peers or family members.

The fear of spiders can be treated by any of the general techniques suggested for specific phobias.

An evolutionary reason for the phobias, such as arachnophobia, claustrophobia, fear of snakes or mice, etc. remains unresolved. One view, especially held in evolutionary psychology, is that the presence of venomous spiders led to the evolution of a fear of spiders or made acquisition of a fear of spiders especially easy. Like all traits, there is variability in the intensity of fears of spiders, and those with more intense fears are classified as phobic. Spiders, for instance, being relatively small, don’t fit the usual criterion for a threat in the animal kingdom where size is a factor, but most species are venomous (although many of the poisons produced by these species having no effect on humans), and some are lethal. Arachnophobes will spare no effort to make sure that their whereabouts are spider-free, hence they would have had a reduced risk of being bitten in ancestral environments. Therefore, arachnophobes may possess a slight advantage over non-arachnophobes in terms of survival. However, this theory is undermined by the disproportional fear of spiders in comparison to other, far more deadly creatures that were present during "Homo sapiens"' environment of evolutionary adaptiveness.

The alternative view is that the dangers, such as from spiders, are overrated and not sufficient to influence evolution. Instead, inheriting phobias would have restrictive and debilitating effects upon survival, rather than being an aid. For example, there are no deadly spiders native to central and northern Europe that could exert an evolutionary pressure, yet that is where the strongest fear for spiders beganFact|date=May 2008, suggesting cultural learning. In contrast, many non-European cultures generally do not fear spiders, and for some communities such as in Papua New Guinea and South America (except Chile), spiders are included in traditional foodsFact|date=January 2008.

Around 50% of women and 10% of men have mild arachnophobia or worseFact|date=October 2008.

In Popular Culture

*Arachnophobia is a 1990 film about a small Californian town being invaded by deadly spiders from Venezuela.
*In the manga and anime Soul Eater Arachnophobia is the name of the villainous organization led by the witch Arachne.
*In the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, characters explain how the word Arachnophobia comes from the Greek.


*Stiemerling D. "Analysis of a spider and monster phobia", Z. Psychosom Med Psychoanal. 1973 Oct-Dec;19(4):327-45. (in German)
* [ National Geographic: Fear of Spiders rooted in Evolution]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • arachnophobia — (n.) 1925, from comb. form of ARACHNID (Cf. arachnid) + phobia fear (see PHOBIA (Cf. phobia)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • arachnophobia — ► NOUN ▪ extreme fear of spiders. DERIVATIVES arachnophobe noun arachnophobic adjective. ORIGIN from Greek arakhn spider …   English terms dictionary

  • Arachnophobia — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel: Arachnophobia Originaltitel: Arachnophobia Produktionsland: USA Erscheinungsjahr: 1990 Länge: 105 Minuten Originalsprache: Englisch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Arachnophobia — Arachnophobie (film)  Cet article concerne le film. Pour la phobie psychologique, voir Arachnophobie. Arachnophobie Titre original Arachnophobia Réalisation Frank Marshall Acteurs principaux Jeff Daniels …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Arachnophobia — An abnormal and persistent fear of spiders. Sufferers from arachnophobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize the risk of encountering a spider and being harmed by it is small or nonexistent. They may avoid going barefoot and may be… …   Medical dictionary

  • arachnophobia — noun Date: 1925 pathological fear or loathing of spiders • arachnophobe noun • arachnophobic adjective or noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • arachnophobia — a·rach·no·pho·bi·a (ə răk nə fōʹbē ə, nō ) n. An abnormal fear of spiders.   [arachnid + phobia.]   a·rachʹno·phobe n. a·rach no·phoʹbic adj. * * * …   Universalium

  • arachnophobia — noun /æˌɻæknəˈfəʊbɪə/ An abnormal or irrational fear of spiders …   Wiktionary

  • arachnophobia — fear of spiders Phobias …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • arachnophobia — [əˌraknə fəʊbɪə] noun extreme or irrational fear of spiders. Derivatives arachnophobe noun arachnophobic adjective Origin 1920s: mod. L., from Gk arakhnē spider + phobia …   English new terms dictionary

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