Crippling phobias and character development:

Total posts: [10]
Space hobo
My main character is afraid of spiders and at some point of the story, this phobia becomes a glaring weakness that he needs to get over with. What kind fo situation would force him to face his fears head-on? And how could I write this phobia without making him overeact evrytime he sees a spider?

You can also talk about your character's phobias and how do they affect the story.

edited 21st Oct '10 11:29:48 AM by heartlessmushroom

Just a personal observation that seemed relevant:

Some fears only reach disabling levels when the element that produces them is excessive from the point of the person with the fear. In my case being on a third - floor ledge is tolerable, but being on a 20th floor balcony is not. Similarly, I am perfectly uneffected when there is one spider on my compuer screen, but when there's a big one on my keyboard or in the bathtub it begins to bother me, and if I have to crawl through a tunnel that is literally completely coated with cobwebs, it begins to become crippling.

edited 21st Oct '10 11:43:36 AM by FrodoGoofballCoTV

Space hobo
Would a spider the size of an elephant be too crippling for my character to even run away from?
Just a moment. OK I'm good.

Quite possibly. It'd depend on the character... and maybe the spider. He almost certainly couldn't approach such a creature to rescue a friend, and he might hide and then be paralized with fear.

He also might be the first person to suggest More Dakka or a Disproportionate Retribution to get rid of it. When there's something that you have an irrational fear of, you don't just wan't to not be near it, you want it GONE. Especially if he's someone who has a high tendancy to empathize with others.
Research phobias.

Also, try to think of something you really, really fear, and imagine putting that in the spider's place. How would you react?
If I'm asking for advice on a story idea, don't tell me it can't be done.
6 Madrugada21st Oct 2010 02:42:23 PM , Relationship Status: In season
Think about the question you just asked, in terms of the definitions of the words you used: a phobia is "an irrational and severe fear of some situation, thing or activity, characterized by the excessive and unreasonable desire to avoid the feared stimulus." "Crippling" means "to deprive of capability for service or of strength, efficiency, or wholeness". You don't just get over a crippling phobia.
...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
In my story it's a major plot point that a character is "cured" from his phobia. Is it realistic for someone to partially get over a phobia within a few years (5-10) without any modern proffesional help?

Also, how would someone react if he knew he would probably have to face his phobia well in advance? Using the arachnophobia as an example, how would someone react if he had to travel through a forest where there are known to live giant spiders?
Is it realistic for someone to partially get over a phobia within a few years (5-10) without any modern proffesional help?
Based only on personal experience, I'd say it is possible to partially recover. I have never had any professional help, and I went from a mildly crippling fear of spiders to not having a problem with mild incidents (i.e., one spider on my hand). However, I thought I had gotten over my fear of heights but when I was in Las Vegas, I had a relapse. I literally had to crawl on my hands and knes and did not recover until I was out of the elevator on the ground floor. sad

how would someone react if he knew he would probably have to face his phobia well in advance?
That would probably help. It would also help if he had time to try to build up immunity, exposing himself to spiders to get used to it... but there's still a high risk of a relapse, as in my case above, I would think. I was OK on the 6th floor, but when we got to about the 20th floor I was extremely uncomfortable. Later I was on the 26th floor of a building in Hawaii that had smaller windows and no balconies and I was OK. just bugs me

edited 31st Oct '10 1:58:37 PM by FrodoGoofballCoTV

Polite smartass.
Some therapists treat particularly nasty phobias, including arachnophobia, through 'exposure therapy,' or making them come face-to-face with their fears to desensitize them. Of course, it's a gradual process, starting with a rubber spider or pictures of spiders, then moving to more and more realistic representations with the help of virtual reality and culminating with the patient being comfortable enough to hold a tarantula without fear.

...But since this is a sudden encounter with a giant spider we're talking about here, I doubt it would go near as smoothly. My expectation would be a Heroic BSOD that would only be broken by absolute demand. If the spider's trying to eat him, he'll probably find enough courage to run. If it threatens someone he loves and there's no other options, there's a chance he might just kick that spider's ass.
I've returned from the depths to continue politely irritating the good people of TV Tropes.(◕‿◕✿)
I freak out at normal spider but I don't think I'd freak at a giant one (Small size is a major part of the feat. A giant spider is big enough to shoot).
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Total posts: 10