Some people develop a strong fear of bedbugs only after learning about them. Other people develop their bedbug fears in response to the modern prevalence of bedbug infestations occurring around the world. The idea that a person can pick up bedbugs from movie theaters, airplanes or basically anywhere, strikes some people as too horrifying to be real. It seems that bedbug infestations are reported in the media everyday. Psychologist Kevin Ochsner believes that the abundance of bedbug related issues, both reported and depicted within the media has given rise to a new form of bedbug hysteria. Luckily for those who suffer from uncontrollable bedbug fears, Dr. Ochsner has extensively researched the matter, and he may know how to beat bedbug fears.
Dr. Ochsner is a professor from Columbia University and he studies emotion and how humans regulate their feelings. According to Dr. Ochsner, people’s lack of knowledge concerning bedbugs is enough to illicit fear. Additionally, just the term “bedbugs” is enough to cause some people to develop irrational fears of bedbugs. The more a person learns about their object of fear, the less fearful he/she becomes towards that object. For example, children are afraid of monsters under their beds. This fear is quite gripping for children solely because monsters do not exist. Therefore there is no chance to learn about them, which means there is no way to unlearn a fear towards them. Only after children mature and realize through experience that monsters don’t exist does the fear of monsters disappear. Also, some people are afraid of spiders, but if arachnophobes studied spiders, especially up close, then their spider fears would decrease or cease to exist entirely. This is the problem with bedbugs, as they are feared by people who are unfamiliar with their nature, which allows them to indulge their imaginations. In their minds, bedbugs are capable of anything imaginable.
The term “bedbugs” also elicits fear as we all associate comfort and safety with “beds,” but not with “bugs.” By putting these two words together to form another word some people experience anxiety, as though feeling safe and comfortable becomes impossible. People can lessen their fears by simply imagining themselves as being unafraid. But even more effective than that is having first hand experience with your object of fear.
Do you fear a particular insect or spider? Do you ever imagine yourself as being unafraid of your object of fear to help quell your fear-induced anxiety?