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Relax your mind
We update techinques every month
Blog - VRET

COPE WITH FEAR OF SPIDERS
IN VR

By Nikolas Andreev, Chief Marketing Officer at PsyTech VR
June 25, 2022

Arachnophobia

Arachnophobia

Hello everyone, today our team will introduce you to one of the ten most common phobias in the world - arachnophobia, and it is the fear of spiders. About 10% to 15% of the population has arachnophobia.

Arachnophobia is more common in females than males. Although anyone, at any age, can develop a specific phobia, such as arachnophobia, most develop in childhood and adolescence.

Object of fear

Object of fear

Spiders are perceived as poisonous predators that kill their prey. Most people with arachnophobia do not find spiders "cute". The most common definition of spiders is “nasty”, “vile”, “terrible”, etc. What causes arachnophobia isn’t fully understood. Researchers believe causes might include:
• A traumatic past experience with a spider
• Childhood exposure to a parent’s arachnophobia. You may develop arachnophobia if you felt the anxiety of one of your parent’s reactions to spiders
• Family history of anxiety disorders. This could increase your chance of developing a phobia, such as arachnophobia
Technically, scientists believe neurochemicals overstimulate an area of your brain — your amygdala — in the presence of fear. There’s also thought that a single genetic mutation can increase your risk of arachnophobia if you have that gene defect. Other reasons are the unpredictability of the actions of spiders, the risk of bites, and the ability to suddenly get into the web.

Arachnophobe not only avoids the place where insects can theoretically appear, but also strives to destroy them at the first sight, and also constantly waits for their appearance, and monitors compliance with the absolute frequency of the floor, walls and ceilings.

Case study

Case study

Daniel A. (CPO) on his arachnophobia
Hey there,

It's Daniil, and nobody knows that I was afraid of spiders before we started PsyTech VR.
The drama of this situation was so funny that once noticed a small spider under the bed before going to sleep. For 2 hours I was making a plan on how to get rid of this small tiny creature. Afterwards, I used my vacuum cleaner to make him and the web disappear, and that was totally looking like paranoia with increased respiration and heartbeat.
While working on the product in the role of Product Director, I was supposed to create Arachnophobia training with the team. It was a real challenge due to the fact that I had to choose 3D models of spiders, locations for their being, animation models of crawling, etc. In the beginning, I was living with at least shivers every single day, but the real fear was met when I decided to test the first version of the product... How awful these spiders were... but when I started facing them every day, I noticed that the following symptoms started disappearing - sweating, rapid heartbeat. Some processes in my brain naturally made me fearless of virtual spiders, and in several weeks happened the following.
While driving a car from my granny's house in the countryside I was stuck in the traffic on the freeway. And then drawing attention to the media console, I noticed that the spider was coming down right on my pants!
Immediately it made me shiver to watch this, BUT understanding that this homeboy is a bit familiar with me as I've seen plenty of them in the past, I started breathing as part of a coping strategy and visualising that this creature is not a poisonous predator.

All the symptoms went down, and my head was clear to take the magazine, grab the spider with it and through away from the window.

This day I was thinking about the occasion, and what came to my mind was that I decided to speak with Inna, our doctor and CSO of the project.


I was surprised!


In simple terms, facing our phobias no matter in VR or in real-life makes our brain accept the object of fear in several attempts, and the symptoms can really disappear which means that you'll be neutral to the fear.

Solution - VR training

Solution - VR training

To overcome arachnophobia, the PsyTech VR team has developed a unique methodology: learn self-guided courses on our platform and train phobia in the VR app using Meta Quest. We create SAFE virtual environments in which the patient can come face to face with the object of their phobia.
Also, we create a VRET solution for doctors to train with patients when specialists will guide the user (online or offline in the cabinet) by watching the stream of patients' activity in virtual phobias, this can be done using our VR telemedicine module on the platform.
By bringing the technique of the ladder of fear, we create various levels which are based on different levels of difficulty, starting from the simplest one right to those when the user can feel in virtual danger.

On the platform, you'll find all the helpful education courses that will help to understand how to practice phobia, and teach you various techniques of stress coping strategies, etc.

To make your training more effective and bring special immersion we introduce the hand-tracking function that can be used with phobia levels in PsyTech VR.
An example is the level of arachnophobia when the user can take the spider in virtual hands, because of the Meta Quest headset hand-tracking function.

Hand-tracking in Meta Quest
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Nikolas Andreev
CMO at PsyTech VR

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