Scared of Spiders? Pick Up a Tarantula and Feel Less Scared in Minutes

Anybody with a phobia knows all about exposure therapy: the best way to deal with your fears really is to confront them. But apparently, exposure therapy was way more effective than anybody thought.

Researchers at Northwestern University scanned the brains of people scared of spiders both before and after a two hour exposure therapy session, where the phobics handled tarantulas.

By the way, this isn’t “I hate spider” kind of phobia: this is straight-up, blood-chilling, life-damaging fear we’re talking about. Some subjects wouldn’t walk on grass because they were afraid a spider might hitch a ride.

But after, their brains showed less of a fear response, and six months later? The scans were essentially unchanged. Even better, the therapy seemed to be effective in just minutes.

Next, claustrophobics, because you can put ’em in an MRI and kill two birds with one stone.

image via Tom Raftery on Flickr