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  1. Is fear ruining your life?
  2. Overcoming Your Fears
  3. How to overcome fear and anxiety | Mental Health Foundation
  4. 2. The fear of uncertainty

He stood there, stunned. That roach ruined my date. Psychologists report patients too terrified to get out of bed at night or to go to the kitchen for fear of encountering a cockroach. Emily Driscoll, a documentary producer in New York City, once became trapped in a hotel room in India because a roach was sitting on the door handle.

Andrew Stein, a computer programmer who grew up in New Orleans but now lives in New York, also recalls once being trapped by a roach.

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One night in his newly renovated Brooklyn apartment, he heard a familiar scratch-scratch-scratch coming from the bathroom. Investigating, he found a large American cockroach clinging to his bath towel.

Is fear ruining your life?

He spent the next two hours camped out in the hallway, trying to work up the courage to go back inside and kill the roach. Their stench, too, is indicative of an underlying purpose. Finally, their sickly slick feel derives from a lipid-based wax that their cuticle secretes to prevent water loss. None of these traits bode well for the human observer.

Overcoming Your Fears

Roaches are incredibly prolific, and hard to get rid of. But those physical and behavioural traits do not explain why roaches are so frequently the subjects of phobias. As it turns out, the root of that fear often traces back to some traumatic experience in life, such as witnessing your mother scream at the sight of a roach. Often, that fear forms early, around the age of four or five. Some do manage to evade that fear, however. Philip Koehler, a veteran entomologist with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, probably spends more time voluntarily with cockroaches than almost anyone else in the world.

At his lab at the University of Florida, he keeps around a million of those insects.

How to overcome fear and anxiety | Mental Health Foundation

His fascination with those creatures does have its limits, however. Outside, a disturbingly realistic 6-foot tall metal cockroach sculpture, lovingly crafted by one of his former students, guards his door. The trust is not broken. A hissing cockroach SPL.

How to Overcome Fear

Several years ago, a woman in her 50s approached him. Was there anything he could do to help?

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He invited her to the lab for an informal session of exposure therapy, starting small by simply talking about roaches, then progressing to photos, pinned roaches and eventually the real deal. After several visits, her hyperventilating stopped and she was even able to hold a hissing cockroach. He begins by weeding out my issue with roaches.

I relay a few of my stories, trying to make him understand, and he listens patiently until I finish. Later, I realise how I should have conveyed the problem. When a roach slinks into my bedroom at night or flies into my face, I am forced to acknowledge that all is not under my control. Just as a leering cat-caller or subway groper might not inflict physical harm on his victims, that undesirable interaction can still inspire intense distress. Unprovoked danger — whether actual or perceived — can appear without warning.

It can slink out of a dark alleyway or from beneath a closet door at any moment. To their victims, cockroaches commit a personal violation. In the words of George A. Romero, they creep up on you. Roaches are cute, I told myself, even lovable. But when a living roach would appear in the school bathroom or gym, these soothing thoughts were revealed for what they really were: lies told to comfort a scared little girl.

Over the years, I noticed my phobia intensifying. Viewing this as a weakness, I tried in my own ways to self medicate. But digitised, anthropomorphised roaches on a two-dimensional screen and real-life roaches are not at all the same beast. But even though I regularly handled those exotic species, I still performed a sort of panicked Riverdance each time one of their urban cousins crossed my path in the infested Crescent City.

I find it hard to believe that anything could ever change my feelings and reaction towards roaches. But not everyone agrees with this hopeless prognosis. Expose someone to the same thing over and over again and it will eventually become boring and commonplace. Untold numbers of phobics go untreated, however, simply because few possess the unique mix of desperation and bravery needed to willingly sign up for the chance to interact with a cockroach. Some therapists are designing workarounds for skittish patients.

A team of researchers at the James I University in Spain thinks that augmented reality could be a solution for treating cockroach phobia. Augmented reality projects computerised images into the real world, allowing a more convincing encounter. To test the system, the Spanish researchers recruited six participants, all of who suffered from debilitating, clinically verified cockroach phobias. One participant wanted to sell her apartment after spotting a roach, while another refused to visit her grandmother for fear of seeing a cockroach.

Before undergoing augmented reality therapy, none of the women would agree to enter a room that contained a live cockroach in a plastic container.

terzycefullo.gq When the treatment session concluded, they were able to approach the live cockroach and even stick a finger into its container for a few seconds. Twelve months after the original treatment, the participants maintained those improvements. Unfortunately, augmented reality is not yet available in a clinical setting. Until further research can be completed and the treatment gains approval for use in therapy, phobics wishing to rid themselves of their fear must go about it in the old fashioned way: through cognitive behaviour therapy paired with exposure therapy.

2. The fear of uncertainty

For those who can garner the courage to try it, their efforts are often rewarded in as few as one to three sessions. The German cockroach SPL. I want to wait a moment to gather my resolve, but he shoos me in. Suddenly, I am surrounded by at least a million roaches of 14 different species. They are on display no more than four feet in front of me, in dozens of glass jars fitted with deceptively festive orange and blue lids. Each contains a teeming mass of insects, from bitty babies smaller than my pinky nail to giant Brazilian cockroaches larger than a mouse.

My gaze, however, immediately seeks out and settles on that most reviled species of all: the American cockroach. There they sit, about a dozen of them: bloated, shining, and the colour of slick sewage, the glass of their enclosure stained with faeces and regurgitate. Their antennae waggle as they slowly mull about the confines of their glass enclosure. I can hear them; the gentle scratch, scratch, scratch of their spiny feet. I can feel it in the hairs on my arms, in the racy beat of my heart and slight shortness of breath.

The hissing cockroach Thinkstock. Finally, the moment to confront those monsters has arrived. Pereira pulls the American cockroaches off their place on the shelf and gently deposits them on the counter before me. Pereira, meanwhile, is all giggles. Then, she moves to remove the lid. The reek of their existence fills the small room, and I crinkle my nose while craning my neck toward the jar. Nestled within protective folds of cardboard, several large roaches wave back to me with their antennae. In one swift motion, Pereira snatches the cardboard shelter from the jar, seamlessly transferring it to another empty container and banging it against the walls.