Zoophobia

What is zoophobia?

Zoophobia refers to a fear of animals. Most of the time, this fear is directed at a specific type of animal. However, it’s also possible for a person with zoophobia to fear all or many types of animals.

Zoophobia is one of the many types of specific phobias. A specific phobia is an anxiety disorder in which you have an intense, exaggerated fear of something like an animal, object, or situation.

Animal phobias are one of the most common types of specific phobia. A small 2018 research assessed phobias across three large surveys. It found that zoophobia was consistently one of the most reported types of phobia

The exact cause of zoophobia isn’t known. It’s possible that several factors could contribute to the development of the condition, including:

Negative experiences. Having a negative experience with an animal may cause you to fear it. For example, someone who’s been attacked by a dog may become afraid of dogs. Learned behaviors. We may also learn to fear animals from someone who is close to us, such as a parent or sibling. For example, if your parent is terrified of spiders, you may learn to fear them as well.

There’s a possibility that Genetics. genetics may also play a role in specific phobias. Fear processing. We process fear and anxiety in different ways. Some people may just be more anxious than others, making them more likely to develop a specific phobia

Virtual Reality Therapy for Zoophobia

Direct exposure to work on the fear of animals can be difficult to carry out. It becomes difficult to control the environment that needs to be reproduced, particularly the animal’s reactions, specific situations, the need for certain species, etc. Also, can generate enormous anxiety levels which in consequence can make the individual refuse or even abandon the treatment. VR environments help to ease the patient’s anxiety about the intervention of fear of insects and other animals, having total control over the different variables during the exposure, allowing the therapist to control the environment, which gives the freedom to customize the session to the individual's needs.

VR Environments that help

Room with spiders

Exposure to work on the fear of spiders (arachnophobia), with scenes inside a terrarium or walking on a table. The size of the spiders and the distance between them and the individual can be adjusted.

Room with cockroaches

Exposure to cockroaches inside a terrarium or walking on a table. The size of the cockroaches and the distance between them and the idnvidual can be adjusted. Useful to work on fear of bugs (Entomophobia).

Fear of dogs

Exposure to work on fear of dogs. The variables can be adjusted for the dog to bark, to pet the dog, among others.

Close-up of pigeons

Exposure to several pigeons in a square. Useful to work on fear of birds (Ornithophobia).

Cat

Exposure to work on fear of cats. With scenes on a house, and petting the animal.

VR Therapy involves gradually introducing a person to the situation causing their fear and helping them adapt to it. It may involve just a few sessions of therapy, after which the end goal is the person confronting their fear.

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