Fear of bats, sometimes called chirocopiophobia, from the Greek χείρ – their, “hand” and πτερόν – pteron, “wing,” referring to the order of bats, and φόβος – Phobos, meaning “fear,” is a specific phobia associated with bats and common negative stereotypes and fear of bats.
We could also call it pododermophobia, which refers to the fear or aversion to bats. It is a clinical fear in which prejudice and misinformation cause people to associate bats with common negative stereotypes.
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- People with pododermophobia experience intense and passionate fear and panic when faced with bats or the possibility of being in the presence of bats.
- Such fear transcends the normal or rational fear that comes along with an undesirable creature.
- People who have this phobia very often go to extremes to avoid any possibility of entering a situation in which they are exposed to bats, but when they are forced to enter a problem, such as when a bat is trapped. They develop feelings of aversion, dislike, and fear in their home or apartment.
- They cannot cope and hyperventilate, experience heart palpitations and begin to tremble.
- They also feel an immediate danger to their lives and often scream or cry.
- A combination of genetics, environmental triggers, and learned behaviors influences phobias development and maintenance.
- A negative previous experience is very often the underlying cause of the Potophobia.
- For example, a young child surprised by the sudden and noisy appearance of a flock of bats could cause the development of this phobia.
- Some bats carry rabies, and people scratched or bitten while trying to capture a trapped or injured bat may encounter the disease and thus develop an aversion to the animal.
- Only one in 1,000 bats carry rabies, but there is no way to identify which bats are carriers; the widespread impression is that all bats are.
- Although bats are neither dangerous nor aggressive to humans, their leathery wings and bright eyes put most people off.
- However, the most common cause of pedophobia is folk tradition. A bat entering the house warned of impending death in medieval Europe.
- Medieval Europe also promoted the image of bats flying at night with the Devil, and the graphic representation of the Devil in those days included bat wings.
- This image impacted and has passed down through the centuries.
- Through no fault of their own, Bats have been associated with evil and undesirable characters such as Count Dracula, vampires, and others.
- Another popular piece of folklore that leads to fear and dislike of bats is the myth that a bat gets tangled in women’s long hair and that the only way to obtain rid of it is by cutting off their hair.
- These profoundly ingrained prejudices have found their way into modern life and society, with the most famous example being Halloween.
- Modern stories and movies often transform vampires into bats, and Batman, the famous DC Comics character, chooses to emulate bats to strike fear into the hearts of criminals.
Roots and misconceptions
Contrary to popular belief, only three bats feed on blood, and these species only live in Latin America.
- Common ignorance often leads to misidentification.
- At the same time, fear of bats can naturally be reinforced by the natural startle response experienced by an unsuspecting person, for example, when a disturbed colony of bats runs out of a cave.
- Most bats, specifically the micro-bats that make up the majority of species, are terrified of humans and view man as a potential predator.
- Bats disturbed in their roost instinctively flee as fast as possible, and maternity colonies sometimes abandon their babies because they are desperate to escape.
- Often people fear bats because of the possibility of contracting rabies, but only 0.5% of vampire bats are carriers of rabies.
- As is typical with specific phobias, an occasional fright can lead to abnormal anxiety that requires treatment.
- An abnormal fear of bats can be treated with any standard treatment for specific phobias.
- Because fear is not life-altering, it can usually only be left untreated.
- Based on this fear of bats, vampires in stories and movies are often portrayed as capable of transforming into bats for locomotion.
- A modern example associating fear with bats in fiction is DC Comics’ Batman. In many adaptations, Batman is said to have chosen to emulate bats to strike fear into the hearts of criminals.
- In the movie Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne, Batman’s secret identity, actually develops a fear of bats when he falls into a cave and is attacked by bats.
- Ra’s al Ghul makes a grown Bruce Wayne conquer his fear.
- One of Batman’s enemies, the Scarecrow, is also mentioned as fearful of bats, specifically Batman himself.
Treatment of chirophobia
What is chirophobia?
Chirophobia is not life-threatening and, as such, can be left untreated without any permanent damage.
- Most people living routine city lives never encounter a bat deters many podiatrists from seeking professional treatment.
- People with an extreme form of pododermophobia experience fear and panic and develop symptoms who take the treatment.
- Treatment for photophobia is similar to treating any other specific phobia.
- Typical forms of treatment include therapy, including counseling or graduate exposure, and hypnosis.
Graduated Exposure Therapy
- This type of therapy involves systematic desensitization using relaxation skills and helping the individual to use this ability to react to situations and thus cope with and overcome fear.
- The self-hypnosis approach holds that the leading cause of photophobia is prejudice against bats anchored in the unconscious mind.
- So the best way to free yourself from a phobia is by reprogramming the mind through hypnosis.
- The conscious part of the brain has only ten percent memory, and as such, any attempt to effect change purely on a conscious level remains ineffective.
- Hypnosis that targets the subconscious mind helps to overcome negative impressions established in mind and accepts new positive conditioning in its place.
- Bats are harmless and benefit humans.
- They have an echo locator, a built-in sonar system that detects large objects so they can stay away from them.
- A bat that appears to fall on a person’s head is likely chasing insects that were attracted to the carbon dioxide emitted on the person’s breath.
- The average adult bat eats 600 to 1,000 bugs per night, and in tropical climates, bats are critical pollinators, helping with the growth of bananas, mangoes, balsa wood, figs, peppers, and hemp.
- Counseling usually involves a personal commitment to a trained counselor.
- The counselor will try to dispel negative stereotypes associated with bats and bring about positive change.
- For example, unlike a generalized association between bats and vampires, only three bats feed on blood, and all three species live only in Latin America.
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