Like Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, and Apiphobia, the fear of bees, Ophidiophobia is a rational fear gone mad.
A few snakes are deadly poisonous. And all snakes will bite if you try to pick them up. But that’s no reason to stutter and shake at the sight of these awesome reptiles. (Unless you’re a mouse, in which case a slow and agonizing death awaits if you don’t flee in terror.)
Years of fame as Satan’s familiar and the cause of man’s fall have not helped the snake’s PR. Slithering and hissing haven’t done much good either. And squeezing herbivores to death or swallowing them live, and taking half an hour to slide them down that very long throat, is none too charismatic. (But whipping around without legs is pretty cool.) So yeah, not a lot of people like snakes. I get it.
Ophidiophobics don’t just dislike snakes. They are terrified of them. They don’t just jump when they surprise a snake on a footpath. They freak out when they see a picture of a snake, or a rubber snake, or a discarded sock that looks like a snake.
If your phobia is interfering with a normal life (hint: you won’t go outside or watch Animal Planet), you might want to face this fear. It’s a 2-step process:
Second, get some exposure therapy. (Yes, that means eventually handling snakes. Try it. You won’t like it, but it’ll help.)
Whatever you do, don’t go on a rampage against snakes. It’s not their fault you’re scared of them. Let the poor beasts be. (Except in those places where foolish humans have introduced pythons into new habitats, where they totally take over. Stop doing that, people! It ends badly for everyone. Read about it in this National Geographic article.)
If you have any phobias, current or conquered, leave a comment on this blog this month and maybe you’ll win a copy of 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6, the comedic tales of a 6th grade fear-slayer, coming out with Lorimer this spring.