I’ve received quite a few emails since starting this site. Most have been extremely positive, from people with varying degrees of arachnophobia who have been inspired by my story about beating my fear of spiders and want to know more, or want help in overcoming their own fear of spiders. Some however have been rather negative, telling me that I can’t really have been arachnophobic if I now keep tarantulas!
Well, the fact is that my arachnophobia was VERY real (and still is to a degree – I can’t say that I’m “cured” or 100% over my fear, but it’s now very controllable so I can appreciate a spider’s elegance rather than just run away screaming!) And now I’ve read that there are professional entomologists with arachnophobia, which I think validates my own story to a degree. It seems illogical at first that someone who chooses a career studying invertebrates could be afraid of spiders, but according to a blog post on esciencenews.com it’s not as rare as you might expect.
The blog post cites an article to be published in the next issue of American Entomologist which features a survey of 41 arachnophobic entomologists. While most entomologists tend to have a low score (mild disgust of fear) most indicated that they react differently to spiders than to insects and other inverts. At the same time, some who responded indicated an extreme phobia.
I wonder how many entomologists with arachnophobia manage to overcome their fear? I’m guessing a lot more than the general public!