A group of scientists claim you can cure your fear of spiders in 2 minutes through a very simple method that might only be frightening at the beginning. There’s a popular saying that most swear by it, or just mention it because it sounds good: face your fears. Most believe that taking on what you’re afraid of will effectively cause you to fear it less.
That seems to be the first step in this situation. It’s probably easier said than done, but researchers from the University of Amsterdam claim just 2 minutes of exposure could provide long-lasting results. The basis of their study is that combining that terrifying spider encounter with just one single drug could cure arachnophobia.
Revisit your fears
The researchers rooted their experiment on a previous study on “reconsolidation” conducted by Joseph LeDoux around 15 years ago. He found that memories or fears can be strengthened or weakened if they’re caught at a proper time. After triggering them, they can be erased with the aid of a particular drug. Essentially, they would activate your fear, and then apply the medication for the purpose of curing it.
However, the idea had only been proven to work on animals or healthy participants.
The researchers from the University of Amsterdam took a step forward, and gathered 45 arachnophobes to test out their own combination. Each participant who was severely afraid of spiders were exposed to a tarantula for 2 minutes. After, half of them were randomly assigned to receive propranolol, a beta blocker that treats high blood pressure. The rest of the subjects were given a placebo.
Their results showed that those who were treated with the beta blocker changed their behavior toward the creepy crawlies from “avoidance” to “approaching”. According to a co-author of the study, Merel Kindt, they proved that using an amnesic drug mixed with memory reactivation helped people with their fear of spiders. The results stood even one year after the study.
2 minutes, one drug, long-lasting effects
It’s “more like surgery than therapy”, as it involves one single session. Usually, curing such a fear would imply multiple therapy sessions, and daily drug administrations. However, the researchers claim it can be fixed much quicker. It’s brief and provides a long-lasting effect, which essentially means loss of fear.
The goal is to use similar methods to treat even more serious fears, anxiety disorders, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, first they require a bigger sample of the population with more severe conditions. If it proves successful, if might mean that life-crippling fears could be eliminated forever.
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