It is estimated that there are more than 300 different types of phobias and almost 10% of the world’s population suffers from these. Spheksophobia is one of the more common phobias belonging to this list. Explained simply, Spheksophobia is the persistent fear of wasps. The word is derived from Greek spheco meaning wasps and Phobos the ‘Greek God of fear’ or dread.
In Spheksophobia, the sufferer experiences an extreme panic attack at the sight or even thought of wasps. As a result, s/he goes into a “flight or fight” mode which is nothing but nature’s way of preparing the body for danger, in this case, wasps. Like in case of the fear of bees (Melissophobia or Apiphobia), fear of wasps can be greatly self-limiting in that; the phobic simply refuses to step outdoors owing to his phobia.
Causes of Spheksophobia
Wasps, like bees, are known for their deadly stings. They tend to dwell in swarms and can sting their victims repeatedly. What makes these creatures even more vicious and deadlier than bees is the fact that they do not leave their stinger in the human skin; rather they can withdraw and reuse it on their victims over and over. The sting of a wasp leaves behind extremely painful and burning sensations. Those with sensitive skin also experience swelling, redness and severe inflammation in the bitten area which often lasts for days.
Naturally, a person who has experienced a wasp’s sting or even seen a loved one getting stung could develop a lifelong fear of wasps. Adults (parents and caregivers) could also unknowingly instill the fear in young minds. Even simple statements like, “do not go out in the garden as there is a wasps’ nest there” can trigger Spheksophobia. An adult screaming at the sight of wasps ends up teaching the child to have a similar reaction.
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News reports or media, TV shows about wasp stings can also sometimes trigger Spheksophobia. There are a couple of rather famous cases reported recently in the papers/Internet. One is that of a famous tourist spot in South Asia- it had to be closed down (and the tourists evacuated by helicopters) after a swarm of angry wasps attacked and stung some of them. Another well known and rather tragic case is that of a wasp stinging a businessman inside his mouth. This caused his tongue to swell up leading to instant asphyxiation which caused his death even before paramedics could come on the scene.
Symptoms of fear of wasps phobia
Panic attacks are the most common symptoms of Spheksophobia. The body goes into flight or fight mode and there is an adrenalin rush. This gives rise to following symptoms:
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- The person feels like running away, though, most phobics remain frozen, sit down or stand still. The excess adrenalin then leads to shivering, shaking or excessive sweating.
- The phobic might experience elevated heart rate, accelerated and rapid breathing, and higher blood pressure.
- Some feel overwhelmed from constant thoughts of wasps stinging them leading to death. This can cause the phobic to feel totally out of control or detached from reality.
- Some people tend to feel dizzy from the adrenalin rush or might faint.
- Others might feel nauseated, vomit or experience gastric distress.
Most Spheksophobics show avoidance behavior, i.e. they refuse to step outdoors especially on sunny days when wasps are prevalent. They tend to avoid gardens, parks, florists’ shops, or places with trees, flowers and bushes where wasps are more likely to be present.
Treating and overcoming your fear of wasps
If you suffer from extreme or irrational fear of wasps, there is help available. Hypnosis is one such tried and proven method of treating this phobia. It helps induce deep state of relaxation and helps you re-evaluate the stress that is causing the phobia.
Another form of psychotherapy, Neuro Lingusitic programming can also help detect the faulty-pattern-matching ability of the brain which leads to the flight/fight response. This can help you successfully ward off the symptoms of Spheksophobia.
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Other self help techniques like deep breathing, meditation and positive visualization can help you ground yourself to the present moment in order to relieve the anxiety experienced due to Spheksophobia.