The word apiphobia is a derived from two Latin words, Api-bees and Phobos meaning deep fear or dread. It is a common zoophobia (collective name for the fear of animals) affecting an ample size of the population worldwide.
Individuals that fear bees are not particular to just bees, their fear stretches towards wasps (spheksophobia), yellow jackets, beetles and other swarming insects that sting.
To a rational extent, the fear of bees is absolutely healthy and normal.
Unlike in cases of non-apiphobes who feel apprehensive at the sight of bees, apiphobes get so anxious and bothered at even the images (or mere mention) of bees talk-more of a direct confrontation so much so that it triggers an anxiety response that is analogous to actually being stung.
Therefore, normal work and daily functions can be affected by this fear, as normal apprehension morphs into a full fledged phobia.
CAUSES OF APIPHOBIA:
The main logical cause of apiphobia is a previous trauma involving bees and this induces a negative reaction. Most phobias and fears are usually classical conditioned responses in the brain.
Other causes include:
* As a child or a young adult, the phobic may have accidentally hit a beehive and gotten stung severally. This might also be an indirect traumatic experience, such as onlooking while a person close-by got stung.
* The constant warning and instruction to kids by parents to keep away from beehives can amplify the fear or aversion to bees and beehives. And socially conditioned responses are likely to be instilled in the child on bees and beehives.
* Similarly, parents, elder siblings or grandparents might show intense fear and aversion to bees which might be passively inculcated to the young children, hence the fear of bees in early adulthood.
* Movies, documentaries, stories can as well aggregate the fear of bees.
Although the fear of bees might be slightly hidden in childhood, it can aggravate and build up into extreme apiphobia in adulthood.
SYPMTOMS OF FEAR OF BEES:
The mere mention, thoughts, images or sight bees can elicit these symptoms in an apiphobic individual:
* Rapid or accelerated heartbeat
* Sweating profusely
* Thoughts of death or movie stills about being stung run in the phobicâ€™s mind
* Loss of control, detachment from reality
* Full blown panic or anxiety attack where the phobic tries to run or screams or cries
Often the Apiphobic realizes that such thoughts are completely irrational. Yet, he or she is unable to control them and continues to think them which result in greater anxiety.
DIAGNOSIS, OVERCOMING OR TREATMENT OF APIPHOBIA:
The best proven approach to overcoming apiphobia is the counter conditioning method. It involves prior re-explanation and learning the real facts about bees and how they act.
* Bees only sting when provoked
* Majority of the bees cannot even sting, (this includes the male bees as well as the solitary varieties).
* Bees are amazing insects that provide us with food and medicine. They are also essential players in the ecosystem.
This method aims to correct he wrong beliefs and perceptions of phobics about bees. Here, phobic is brought closer to the fear generating stimulus until s/he gets conditioned to elicit a positive and rational rather than a negative response.
Other related approaches are the systemic desensitization and the gradual desensitisation therapy which both involve gradually exposing the phobic to bees until it’s bearable and they can control their anxiety around the stimulus.
In conclusion, deep and controlled breathing, counting numbers, diverting and distracting your attention away from bees etc are a few simple yet useful self-help techniques that can help phobics tame and in the long run overcome their fear of bees.
It also helps when you learn to focus on the feelings you experience upon encountering bees.