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Overcoming phobias and traumas

/ 12:01 AM August 31, 2016

Our constant search for unusual TV shows now takes us to Animal Planet’s “My Extreme Animal Phobia,” the title of which says it all: The program helps people with traumatic experiences involving icky or terrifying creatures get over their lifelong terrors, and live more normal lives.

The telecast we caught fielded three traumatized individuals: A young woman was terrified of crickets and grasshoppers, which she felt were out to bite her to itchy bits and pieces.

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To help her get over her fantasy fear, the show’s resident “detraumatizers” made her understand that it wasn’t going to happen to her in real life.

But, that realization was only half of the battle to be won. The bigger hump to jump over was a more psychological one, and this had to be done by slowly but surely exposing the suffering patient to actual contact with the icky, itchy critters she feared the most.

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The patient was “game,” because she hated being afraid of anything, let alone such tiny creatures. She knew it was irrational, and being an intelligent and otherwise grounded person, she needed to get over the admittedly senseless fear—and get on with her life.

Well, it finally happened. After initially begging off, jerking and twitching, and feeling like she’d been ordered to do the utterly impossible, she finally endured the ordeal of putting her hand into a container full of grasshoppers and crickets—and thus mastering her lifelong fear!

What finally did it for her was a letter written by a loved one, which she was made to read aloud before her “detox” ordeal.

The letter writer hoped and prayed that their family’s love would inspire and embolden her to overcome her psychological terrors and thus finally achieve the true peace and happiness she most richly deserved!

Another patient was afraid of snakes, and he too was cured of his more “understandable” phobia (since snakes and other slithering creatures have had such “bad press” for centuries).

His rehabilitation was so effective that, in no time at all, he wasn’t just tolerating contact with snakes, but even holding them in his hands and allowing them to “embrace” him!

Finally, another woman was deathly scared of pigeons and other birds (perhaps she’d seen Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” when she was a child?), so she had to be “forced” to enter a pigeon fancier’s big cage, which contained scores of birds.

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At first, she flatly refused to be surrounded by the creatures she loathed and feared. But, she was reminded that nothing less than her psychological normalcy was at stake, so she finally did as “ordered”—and was greatly relieved to see that the “angry birds” didn’t want to peck her to perdition!

These happy outcomes make “My Extreme Animal Phobia” a should-see program for viewers who have their own phobias and traumas to overcome.

With experts’ help and their own loved ones’ support, it can be done!

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TAGS: “My Extreme Animal Phobia”, Animal Planet, Phobias, Television, trauma
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