Tuesday, November 17, 2015

All creatures great and small

A few years ago, my awesome neighbor--"Archie"--saw me clearing the cobwebs out on the porch.  The first thing he did was to take a photograph; he thought it was a rare, rare sight for me to be engaging in physical labor.  It is one of the many jokes that he has about me.  I remind him that when he has such jokes about me, it is his old-fashioned way of telling me how much he loves me.  We men are strange, I suppose ;)

And then he said, "if you let me, I will come spray some chemicals and you won't have to worry about them spiders."  He said that because my aversion to unnecessarily killing creatures is all too familiar to him.  If the creatures are in their own habitat, and do not come into my home, I am down with that, as the young folks say.

I have never cared for spiders.  If I see one inside my home, well, the critter doesn't live after that sighting.  While I am not paralysed with fear as arachnophobics might, I am not at ease either. What's up with this human fear and aversion towards a creature that is so insignificant in size compared to us?
[London Zoo's Head of Invertebrate Conservation Dave Clarke] rejects the idea that arachnophobia is based on an inherent human fear. "That's rubbish," he says. "People put all their negative assumptions on spiders,” regarding them as dangerous even though, in the UK, no species is capable of killing a human. Arachnophobics often develop their fear during childhood, after observing spider aversion in someone close to them—like a parent, sibling or school friend.
Clarke says even he had a fear of spiders at one stage, but his desire to become a zookeeper forced him to confront the issue. He chose the "flooding" method—a type of exposure therapy in which he forced himself to hold spiders despite wanting to do the exact opposite.
What the what?  Hold spiders as in plural?  He even has a "Friendly Spider Programme"
The four-hour program, run by Clarke and hypnotist John Clifford, has been operating for the last 20 years. Over an afternoon, up to 40 participants engage in discussions on arachnids and phobias before being guided through a group hypnosis. During the day, they are encouraged to find a "spider buddy": a fellow arachnophobic with whom they can swap stories and talk through their fears. This helps them feel supported during the afternoon's many physical and psychological challenges, and normalizes feelings of dread. Following a tea break, they face the ultimate challenge: a look-and-touch encounter with real, live spiders—including a big, furry Mexican red-kneed spider—at the London Zoo. 
“Spiders are quite cuddly, too, once you get to know them,” Clarke says.
Caption at the source:
Agatha, a Mexican red-kneed spider.
The craziest thing is that he is not the only one who thinks so.  Lauren Esposito, Curator of Arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences, says, “Spiders and scorpions and other arachnids are cuddly creatures."  What's wrong with these people!!!

Maybe I should stop reading all these creepy crawly things in my newsfeed and, instead, I should return to my favorite topic ;)

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