I used to be terrified of spiders (arachnophobia). Lots of people are afraid of spiders; not only are they really creepy-looking, but some of them are so poisonous that they can kill us. In today's world, with our Emergency Rooms, anti-venom shots, and antibiotics, people now can survive a bite from something like a Brown Recluse with the proper medical attention.

But even just 150 years ago, these wonderful services were not available. So this made me think about what it must have been like for people who lived perhaps 25,000 years ago. If a child was bitten by a spider (or a snake, or a bat, or a shark, or whatever...), that child would get sick, then die. Then that child never grew up to pass on his (or her) genes to any children.

So if you consider the whole population of humans at that time in the past (as perhaps our 25,000 years ago), those people who were not afraid of spiders from birth onwards were more likely to get bitten and die before reproducing. But perhaps, over time, those people who were afraid stood a better chance of living and passing on their genes. New traits in our DNA happen when our DNA gets mutated by things like the natural radiation of the sun. So suppose that a genetic mutation occurred in a person that made that person genetically afraid of spiders. That person then stayed away from spiders, and lived, passing on this new gene to his or her children. This would make anyone who inherited the new gene more likely to live and have children, and so on. If you are into Biology, please realize that I am not talking about a Lamarkian fluke, but a real, genetic change.

To make a long story short, wouldn't it be interesting if we are actually afraid of snakes and spiders and even heights because of genetics, and not because we are neurotic?

Here is a real-life example of this: I was bitten by a Cottonmouth Snake three years ago. I was never afraid of snakes before, and never thought about the possibility that I could be bitten because I was not afraid. I dropped my car keys under the steps of my porch in Mississippi. I reached down through the steps, and the snake was laying there, was startled by my arm, and latched onto my left forearm, and bit me! I spent a long, long day in the Emergency Room, watching with horror as my bite area swelled enormously, and the actual bite area turned white and died. People can get anti-venom only once in a lifetime, so they were trying not to end up having to give me the anti-venom. After about ten hours, the swelling began to go down, and I did not have to get that icky shot, thank goodness. But think about this: If this had happened 25,000 years ago, my arm would have gotten gangrenous, which would have killed me. But since I was in the Emergency Room, I was given antibiotics, an IV for fluids, medicine to calm down the reaction- even pain medicine. If I had gone into shock, or needed the venom, I would have gotten it. I was in good hands. I have had to have plastic surgery on my arm, but at least I have an arm!

Anyway, here's the point: If I did have the gene for "fear of snakes", I would have never have stuck my arm down into a bunch of weeds without being really careful to check for a snake! And if I was a younger woman, any children I would have had would also never been afraid of snakes, either...

I apologize for the length of this question. I just wanted everyone to be sure to understand what I am asking...which is: Are our phobias, at their roots, inherited genetic responses, rather than neuroses? (I know that one can conquer the fears- what I am referring to is that initial, root fear.)

Love to you all,

Jaianniah alt text This is a picture of a Brown Recluse...from http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTBk3_yixD5JmqRY8lkFrvbqV8dmWx3PWzN7r95F7BgvngEg3G8

asked 26 Jul '11, 23:17

Jaianniah's gravatar image


edited 26 Jul '11, 23:26

If I did have the gene for "fear of snakes", I would have never have stuck my arm down into a bunch of weeds without being really careful to check for a snake!

That's not how your mind works. Fear is a reaction to a real or imagined imminent threat. You don't feel fear of snakes by putting your hand down into a bunch of weeds, unless you though of the possibility before, or experienced it (as you did).

The true inbred fear (if you have one) would be evoked about by sighting the actual snake in the weeds, or by hearing hissing or rattling sounds. In the absense of that trigger, there could be all sorts of unknowns about that patch of weeds, but fear of such a patch would most likely come from experience (as yours has), and not from an inbred fear of weed patches. Do you see what I mean?

The reason you might fear snakes because of your genetic history, and not weed patches, is because weed patches, in and of themselves, are not dangerous, and snakes can be anywhere. You are now fearful of putting your hand into a weed patch because you had a really bad experience with one, not necessarily because your genes told you that weed patches are dangerous.

Some fears are easier to learn; this phenomena is called "preparedness." Fear of spiders and snakes fall into this category. Fear of falling and fear of loud noises are the only two fears that we are born with. All of our remaining fears we learn.


answered 27 Jul '11, 01:57

Vesuvius's gravatar image


edited 27 Jul '11, 02:07

past life experiences vs. genetics,
which contains more truth,
or is it a vivid imagination


answered 27 Jul '11, 10:03

fred's gravatar image


Fears can be healthy if they protect us. Phobias are when the fears keep us from doing normal activities, and they are unreasonable. While we are in the womb and the first six years of life, our brain is at a lower frequency which allows us to download information including fears and phobias as well as other perceptions of our parents and other care givers. If one's parent/s has/have fears and phobias, these can be passed on to the child without even saying anything, though I am sure they would voice those fears many times in that 6+ year period.

That feeling of being afraid doesn't feel good and can be scary in it's self, perpetuating the phobia. EFT can help amazingly for fears and phobias. I used to be so afraid of escalators (I think we got yelled at for playing on one as a kid, threatened by security at the mall) so I could take five minutes to step on, letting others go ahead of me as they approached. I did EFT on "This fear of escalators," and now I can step on as soon as I approach it. I used to be afraid of spiders and now I can squash them less squeemishly. I don't think I did EFT for that though, it must have resolved from the EFT I did for other stuff. I pinched a couple tiny spiders with my fingers even.

Most fears and phobias can be eliminated safely with EFT.


answered 27 Jul '11, 12:30

Fairy%20Princess's gravatar image

Fairy Princess

FP + EFT + http://sitesell.com/ = something good. See what I mean?

(27 Jul '11, 12:39) Asklepios

Asklepios, what is it? Thanks.

(27 Jul '11, 12:45) Fairy Princess

Yes it is not only genetic but a past life memory of being bitten causes many a phobia in this lifetime. For instance a person being bitten by a snake has an irational fear of snakes and a person being bitten by a spider has an irational fear of spiders.

People that fell from hights and got badly hurt or killed are terefied of hights in this lifetime and people that drowend many lifetimes ago carry the fear with them to the present lifetime.

Yes there is genetic memory and soul memory and both can cause our phobias.

You could maby try hipnotherapy to find out what happened to you and get help for your problem

Of course not all fears are from past lifetimes but from this one as well.


answered 29 Jul '11, 11:16

Paulina%201's gravatar image

Paulina 1

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