Monday, September 24, 2007


It's that time of year when those creatures come into the house, or out of their summer hiding places, to lie in wait for unwary, unshod feet. I have tried every recommended approach to try to overcome my phobia, all to no avail. Dr Pamela Stephenson Connolly, appeared on television a few days ago to promote her latest book about how to deal with all kinds of emotional and mental health problems, including phobias. She recommended making a list of situations containing the phobia, in order of severity; then visualise the least threatening image until it stops being scary and move on down the list until the phobia disappears. Sounds easy. Here goes:
  1. Walking in the garden after a summer shower, noticing how the sun shining through rain droplets on a web highlight its intricacy. Yes, I can deal with that and even acknowledge it as a work of art.
  2. Walking in the garden or countryside, noticing large webs among the plants. Okay, not so pretty but maybe admirable feats of endeavour.
  3. Walking in the garden - deep breath - seeing a web with captive creature/s. Very uncomfortable lurching of stomach at thought of web as larder.
  4. Reaching up to pick an apple from the tree and unexpectedly touching a web. Distinct shudders.
  5. Stepping out into the yard through a web woven across the doorway. Not good - rush in to wash face. Dr Pamela, this is getting difficult and I haven't seen a you-know-what yet, or visualised indoor situations!

This is obviously not going to work. Maybe over the next few weeks, months or years I will get through the next five stages and defeat the phobia. For now, I'll just rush through what happened this morning, feel horribly sick and then get on with life. I woke at 4 a.m. feeling thirsty. I went to the bathroom for a glass of water and there, in the basin was the biggest one of these you could imagine. AAAGH!!!


  1. Update: 6.30 a.m. husband got up and disposed of arachnid.

  2. Now I understand why you honeymooned in Northern Wales. Also, why you keep an eye out for nice strange boys to build your garden for you.

    She Who is Perfect is also a card-carrying arachnophobe. No offence, monix, but aren't you a little old to be under the sway of the self-improvement gurus? With all due respect to the good doctor, she sounds like bit of a sadist, the sort of modern shaman that whips you up an Alp to deal with your fear of heights. Unless you plan to open a mission in Central Africa, why is this a condition to worry about? Just avoid the little beasties and celebrate the profound wisdom of traditional marriage based on a division of labour. After all, he gets the apple crunble.

  3. I thought the psycho-babble would get to you, Peter! Pamela Stephenson used to be a rather outrageous comedian until she married the even more outrageous Billy Connolly and turned to psychology for salvation. If you know anything about Billy Connolly, you probably chose your words 'whips you up an Alp' very carefully!

    Fear not, I haven't gone over to the dark side; I was just amusing myself while sitting in the study at 4.30, waiting until it was a reasonable time to wake the spider-catcher!

  4. Dear fellow-arachnophobe

    I have decided that the simplest solution is not to wear one's glasses in the house at this time of year. At best, and with a bit of luck, one doesn't see the blighters at all; at worst, they are just a blur. Of course, there is a price to be paid, mainly in the form of bruised shins where one has walked into the furniture.

    Otherwise, those gadget catalogues (the ones that fall out of the Sunday supplements) always seem to have micro bug-buster thingies that work like a vaccuum cleaner, enabling the phobic to hoover up the eight-legged foe and then, using a sort of reverse hoovering action, deposit it outside. No cruelty involved. I've got one but have yet to buy some batteries for it . . .

  5. monix, It's inspiring how you upheld the honor of our sex. Instead of screaming or swooning, you calmly and in a mature fashion, vacated the premises and allowed the manly sex to deal with the vile intruder.

  6. Actually monix/erp, among the traditional secret pearls of wisdom responsible men have handed down to their sons since time immemorial is: "Beware of marrying an arachnophobe with a love of gardens. She may well be worth it, but do go in with your eyes open."

    Sadly, I was a neglected child and missed the message.

  7. Diane and e: do you think arachnophobia only affects women? I know lots of women who suffer but I don't think I've ever heard of a man admitting to it.
    There must be some evolutionary theory about this.

    I'm not sure about the gadget. I can manage to ignore (studiously) the smaller varieties of spider but the longest gadget would still bring me too close to the huge creature I saw this morning. I wonder if modern houses are spider-proof? That would be a strong selling point for me, after all there isn't always a man on hand to deal with the 8-legged intruders.

  8. Peter, one of the traditional secret pearls of wisdom mothers pass on to their daughters is: "Be sure to marry a man who can read a map and can deal with spiders."

    I was not a neglected child. My mother remembered to tell me this!

  9. Arachnophobia must require two X-chromosomes, as nearly every woman I have ever known has it, and not one guy gives them even a passing thought.

    My 14-yr old daughter will run screaming from any spider, no matter how small, or dead.

    My 13-yr old son watches them closely, with great curiosity. He will make an effort or two to escort them out of the house. But, if they become difficult, he just "whams" them.

    Which reminds me of a semi-related story.

    11 years ago, my then 2-yr old son and I were walking across a parking lot in West Texas. Just as we approached the car, he spied a prodigious black beetle making his way across the baking asphalt.

    My son bent down, and with the greatest care picked up and peered closely at it from every angle.

    After a good minute and a half of meticulous observation, he just as carefully placed it back on the ground.

    And then, with his right foot whamwhamwhamwhammed it into the pavement.

  10. Skipper: Your son sounds like the kind of little boy I just loved to teach!

    I do think there is some gender bias towards this phobia but I haven't thought of an evolutionary reason for it. My daughter, who could handle rats and snakes with impunity and even enthusiasm, couldn't enter the spider house in the wildlife park.

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  12. hahahaha Ive just got to this one. I appear to have inherited the spider phobia too.
    I remember when I moved into the farmhouse in 2006, I was so swept up in the whole romantic ideal of living in a 500 year old house that I failed to take into account that there were also the decendants of 500 years of spiders living under the same roof. I almost moved out in my first week. They were everywhere - one tarantula was in my bed (Murphy ate that one when he saw it scuttling across the duvet), they were on every ceiling, in the bath, the sinks.... I actually feel sick just thinking about them. And HUGE!!!!! Dale used to catch them and carry them outside and let them go in the bushes - until one actually bit him. After that (God forgive me as I try to respect all living things just incase there is anything in Bhuddism and I come back as a spider) I started sucking them up the Dyson :-)

  13. Jaki, the Dyson solution has its drawbacks - you can see the horrors inside!

  14. ...not if you carry on hoovering up dust and dog hairs. They disappear in a mini cyclone. What the eye cannot see, the heart cannot grieve for hehehe

    (one way ticket to hell for me please) !!!


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