The Spider Project (1)

I’m following wikiHow’s DIY exposure therapy plan for overcoming a fear of spiders.  Here’s step one:

Build an exposure hierarchy.

Write down a list from 1-10, 1 being the situation that would bring you the least amount of fear (such as thinking about spiders), and 10 being the situation that would bring you the most amount of fear (touching a spider). Work your way up the ladder by first becoming comfortable with number 1, . . . and then move on to number 2, and so on until you have reached your number 10 item. Make sure you have adequate support throughout each of the steps.

Here’s my list (mine goes to 11) :

  1. Write down my goal: be able to get a spider inside my house to the outside of my house. (Safe spiders only.  If it’s a dangerous spider, I reserve the right to just run, panic stricken, screaming, until someone who knows what to do comes to help.  Okay, I’ll work on refining this part of the goal.  Maybe in that case, it’s something like, research local exterminators, or get the number of the department at the university that collects spiders for venom extraction.)
  2. Draw a picture of a spider.
  3. Read about some spiders I have seen in real life (it’s okay not to look at the pictures).
  4. Read about some spiders in South Africa (can skip the pictures).
  5. Look at pictures of spiders.
  6. Watch an informational show about spiders (not a horror movie or hyped-up spiders vs. scorpions: battle of the beasts sort of thing).
  7. Touch a friendly-looking toy spider. (like a stuffed toy spider)
  8. Touch a more realistic-looking toy spider.
  9. Visit a spider exhibition at a zoo.
  10. Go outside and look for spiders. One outside and watch it at a distance.  If it’s not dangerous, see how close I can get.
  11. Watch a friend (probably Joe) capture a spider inside a house. Watch a friend (probably Joe) take the spider and release it outside the house.

Okay, did that without my heart racing, and, actually, I’m looking forward to drawing my spider picture tomorrow.

To see the wikiHow page, click here.

  1. Amy, may I propose an item 12? Assuming your leave, here goes: reread Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer. Consider her thoughtful and persuasive narrative on the complexity of the formation of a predator, such as a lion (probably reliably always dangerous to you) and a spider (also a predator, but not always dangerous to you). The gap between always dangerous and not always dangerous leaves a little space for reason and discernment. Kingsolver’s whole narrative in the novel is built around entomology — mostly moths, but she also addresses more complex social/genetic/protein structures of predators — lions and spiders. They take longer to build. They require more, and more specific, nutrients to grow and mature according to God’s plan for them.

    Kingsolver’s basic message is to be very cautious about destroying a predator because predators have a more complex structure, and position at the top of the food chain, than, say mice — the potato chips of the ecosystem that everyone eats, from mosquitoes to owls and small cats, domestic and otherwise. When you destroy a predator, there’s more potential for disruption in God’s balance than when, for example, you swat a fly.

    I know that this very difficult for a real phobia, but wonder whether the fun of the book (which also features the alluring Eddie) might give just a moment’s pause, a gap in the phobia, a beat where you might be able to think of the spider as the other, which is not so very far from the question the persistent and meticulous lawyer asks in the Parable of the Good Samaritan: Who is my neighbor?

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