Our fears are constantly lurking in the back of our minds, and maybe even lurking around every corner. Well for me, my fears are lurking in the depths of the oceans that surround our continents, sporadically terrorizing people who wander into their territory. There is a never-ending list
of phobias in this world, many in which keep our minds hostage, causing us to live in a conscious nightmare every time we come face to face with them. Fortunately, researchers may have found a way to help us reduce our phobias and help us cope with them. A computer program has been discovered which swiftly flashes images of what freaks you out. Will this finally be the breakthrough that will allow us to face our fears?
I have had Galeophobia since I was 4 years old. Galeophobia or Selachophobia is the abnormally large fear of sharks. It started when my father had scared me with a Jaws movie cover. We were at Blockbuster when he had the thrusted the the dvd into my face, causing me to scream at the top of my lungs and run out of the store with tears running down my face. Now, I’m afraid to go to the beach, thinking that if I go into the water, a scene from Jaws will come to life before my eyes. I can’t go into the shark exhibit at Seaworld without crying, nor can I watch Finding Nemo without freaking out either. I’m constantly teased by family members and friends about my fear, but that doesn’t make me ashamed of it. Now I want to stand up to my galeophobia, look these sharks in their beady eyes and tell them that i am no longer afraid of them. This is what this program is trying to help us achieve.
Evidently, this computer program is supposed to help people who have severe phobias, face their fears, lowering their anxiety. Here’s how it works: a patient is placed in a MRI scanner, which flashes a series of images of what they are afraid of in about 0.03 seconds. It does so so quickly that your mind is unable to recognize the photos, allowing the brain to process what it saw and reducing your fear. Then in the second part, the patient sees the images again, but this time the they are shown for a longer period of time. The reaction of the patient is the same as when the saw the pictures the first time around. It shows that they are able to control their emotions and confront their fears. They have experimented with twenty-one girls who suffer from arachnophobia, and the results show that none of them showed any fear during and after the experiment. Success!
However, I do wonder if this will be successful with any other person who suffers from their phobia severely. Knowing myself, it would be an absolute challenge to get me to lie in that MRI scanner, knowing that I will be flashed with images of my worst
nightmare. This experiment reminds me of a horror movie when the protagonist is creeping around the corner of their house and the demon jumps right in front of them, scaring the bejeezus out of whoever is watching the movie. That is how I would imagine my experience, which makes the chances of me actually trying this experiment slimmer than it already is. Yet, I have tried so many other forms of therapy that would help me deal with my fear, and although they have eased the anxiety, it was not enough to help me confront my phobia and or help rid my mind of the living nightmare. So can this will be the first successful program that will help me and so many other people?
I hope that this program gains recognition as it can truly help many suffering people. It can help diminish the incessant list of phobias that take over our minds everyday. People can go about their days without having to think about the chances coming face to face with what freaks us out the most. Children can live free of their nyctophobia (fear of the dark) when going to bed at night, Claustrophobic (fear of small spaces) people can settle in small spaces without being bothered, Patients with trypanophobia (fear of needles) can receive vaccines without panicking, and people who suffer from Galeophobia, like myself, can finally have a piece of mind when going to the beach or even watch Finding Nemo without freaking out about an animated shark. These phobias will, unfortunately still be there, but will be locked up tight in the back of our brains. Eventually, we will learn to exist amongst our fears and learn how to kill them before they take us prisoner again. Let’s just hope that this program will be successful in the road leading to the destruction of our fears. Let’s not let our fears win.