Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rabbit Phobia

Charges were dropped against a German student who had terrified a teacher with a chalkboard drawing of a rabbit. The 60 year old female teacher has a case of “leporiphobia,” i.e., rabbit phobia. I have a few phobias myself, but rabbits no way. However, I am very respectful when I handle them and I have experienced my share of bites from new rescues.
Bites or not, I love rabbits, and animal phobias are not rare. Most Americans (almost 80%) have a fear of some animals and it usually becomes apparent around age 11 years old. Many of these fears are associated with a traumatic or emotionally disturbing event which is sometimes long forgotten by adulthood. Even a picture of the animal can send the phobic into a panic. The most effective way to overcome a phobia is by facing it gradually until a desensitizing effect takes place. Most animal phobias can be overcome in a short session in less than a day. For instance, confine a cute little Holland Lop several feet away and the leporiphobic comes closer in small steps while talking through the fear with a therapist. It seems pretty silly until I replace the little bunny with a big old snake in my mind’s eye. I cannot fault this poor teacher for her fears. She deserves our sympathy. Afterall, she will never experience a nudge from a bunny nose or bunny kisses. Now that’s a scary thought.