Across the world there are varied opinions about frogs and toads: some people find them cute, others find them ugly and disgusting. Then there are others who have developed an outright fear or phobia of frogs.
The term used to describe this phobia/fear of frogs is called Ranidaphobia. This word originates from Latin source ‘Rani/ranidae’ meaning the family of amphibians including frogs, toads, newts etc and phobos which is Greek for fear. Another term for this phobia is Batrachophobia. (The fear of toads is specifically called Bufonophobia.)
Causes of Ranidaphobia
- There are many associations and stories related to frogs in folklore and fairy tales. Frogs have been deemed ugly, but princesses still need to kiss them for ‘regaining’ their handsome princes.
- Frog urine (or skin contact with the creature) supposedly causes warts on the skin (similar to those on a witch’s face). In some cultures, it is believed that sighting a frog is bad omen.
- Then, modern TV shows on science have shown that many species of frogs are poisonous/allergy inducing. Hence, children develop a phobia of frogs after reading about them or watching such shows.
- A negative experience with frogs in childhood is the most common trigger of Ranidaphobia. One phobic describes an incident from his childhood in a makeshift shower stall at the beach where he accidentally picked up a bullfrog while bathing in the dark. His fear at the sight and croaking sound made by the frog made him run out screaming in the buff. This negative humiliating experience comes back to haunt him each time he encounters frogs.
- Another phobic, a woman, accidentally killed a frog by running her lawnmower over it. The violent manner in which the frog was killed caused her to have a lifetime of anxiety about these creatures.
- Some students asked to dissect frogs in Biology experience twitching legs of dead frogs and have developed deep dread of these creatures ever since.
- Frogs are usually associated with wet, damp or rainy places. They come out croaking at nighttime to feed and mate and to a person already suffering from nervous anxiety disorders or adrenal insufficiencies, it is possible that the mind associates evil, death or dying with these supposedly ‘ominous’ sounds made by the frog.
- Frogs are also found in toilets or dirty cramped spaces. People who are afraid of dirt or un-cleanliness are likely to develop this fear of frogs.
- These creatures are good at camouflage and blending with their natural environment. They tend to make a sudden appearance scaring people who then associate them with the panic felt at their presence.
Symptoms of fear of frogs phobia
The symptoms of fear of frogs vary from person to person.
- In some individuals, even the sight, sound or thought of presence of frogs can trigger a host of anxiety symptoms like screaming, shaking, crying, increased heartbeat, sweating, trembling and so on.
- Some people cannot bear to even look at pictures of frog or TV/nature shows about them.
- Many refuse to walk in tall grass in spring/summer months and especially at night, or swim in ponds or pools where frogs generally lurk.
- In extreme cases, the phobic tends to think that a frog will jump on his head or crawl under the skin and this can make one hysterical or paralyzed with fear.
Knowing the root cause of Ranidaphobia is the first step for its treatment. Cognitive behavior therapy and Psychotherapy are both highly effective in achieving this goal. Both can help the phobic rationalize his fear of frogs.
Ranidaphobic individuals should try to gradually expose themselves to the object of fear, in this case, frogs. Listening to sounds of frogs, seeing frog photos on the Internet, or talking and discussing it with loved ones (or with others in online/offline support groups) can also help one overcome Ranidaphobia.
Anxiety or allergy medication may be prescribed by the healthcare provider but these are used as a last resort as they are not often free from side effects.
Finally, one should educate oneself about frogs as learning and understanding can also help overcome fear. Frogs are essential part of the ecosystem and play a role in many food chains. Efforts are also being made worldwide to save frogs to save rainforests. Knowing these facts can help one rationalize their fear of frogs.