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Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are Fearful Of Snakes

Discussion in 'The Library' started by Rich, Mar 4, 2008.

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  1. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Some of the oldest tales and wisest mythology allude to the snake as a mischievous seducer, dangerous foe or powerful iconoclast; however, the legend surrounding this proverbial predator may not be based solely on fantasy. As scientists have recently discovered, the common fear of snakes may well be intrinsic.

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    Use this thread to discuss the article above. What are your thoughts about Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are Fearful Of Snakes?
     
  2. titus

    titus Elite Member Premium Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    Good article but the tile is a bit misleading when they themselves state within

    "LoBue and DeLoache explain that their study does not prove an innate fear of snakes, only that humans, including young children, seem to have an innate ability to quickly identify a snake from among other things."

    Though other studys have been conducted that fear of things is perceived by youg children and passed on to them from their parents. I believe the study was of spiders and our fear of them.
     
  3. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    I also believe that fear is inherited by what we see. Angie, my fiance, is afraid of snakes. She has no reason to be and currently lives with 5. (Three Ball Pythons, a Snow Corn, and a Boa Constrictor.) When asked why she is afraid of them, she truly doesn't know.

    I believe I do. She inherited her fear from her mother. Without reason, and yes I asked, her mother is deathly afraid of snakes. She will run if one is within 10 feet of her. Having seen this behavior as a child, I believe it was ingrained in her brain like children who watch abuse transpire in front of them and grow up to be abusers themselves.

    It has taken almost 10 years for me to slowly recondition Angies way of thinking. She will now hold the snakes so long as I am controlling where their heads are. She has been attempting to overcome this fear to help ensure our children don't succumb to the same mindset she was subjected too.

    So far it has worked. lol My son asked me if he could "pet" our Boa today. (Which means I have to be holding her and controlling her head so no accidental bites occur.) When asked why he wanted to pet her, I got this response:

    "Because I love her." (He is 3)
     
  4. barnkat

    barnkat Elite Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    Rich, that is so sweet. My 2 year old granddaughter is totally in love with Zena the Tegu.
    I feel a lot of it has to do with how you were raised. The fear is usually instilled by situations or other people. My foster son was horribly afraid of thunderstorms when he was small, but his mother was extremely afraid of them. She was always able to hear sounds even no one else could (ex: a chainsaw in the woods across the lake from where we lived when we were small children) and so it was louder for her. He now enjoys a good thunderstorm, although understands the need for safety precautions. I feel people are the same way about snakes and lizards. I am careful when encountering snakes in the wild until I can identify them, but as a kid would pick up any snake I saw. My dad was raised in South Dakota, and every year when we went to visit my Grandma as kids, he would have to play with a rattler or two. His brothers and sisters are totally afraid of any snake and do not like to even see the pictures of our snakes. When they were young they were taught that snakes meant a horrible death of agony and pain. I have a friend who is extemely afraid of snakes and won't come in the house unless mine are in a travel cage upstairs with the door shut. Her brother used to throw snakes at her when she was little and a racer wrapped around her neck and started to constrict. Some things like survival are inherent, others are learned.
     
  5. Og_

    Og_ Elite Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    I believe the fear of snakes is only natural to those who are uneducated about them. If you know nothing about snakes, you don't know the difference between poisonous and nonpoisonous. Certainly our Grandparents and Great Grandparents knew nothing of what we know today.
    I believe the fear is instinctual. Our species has been around for a very long time without the knowledge we have today.
    I heard an interesting theory about the legend of the "Dragon"
    It represents an fusion of the three most feared predators of early hominids: The large prehistoric cats, Large raptors, and Large snakes.
    It's only through education that we overcome our fears.
     
  6. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    I see society as a whole has been ingraining into people generation after generation that snakes are evil. Goes back all the way to the serpent in the garden of Eden thing from the bible.
    Yet it was also seen a sign of health in some cultures. It's still on the symbol of medicine.
    Ever since my daughter was born I have always taught her that reptiles were not to be feared, but respected. When I tell her not to be careful or they might bite, I tell her why. Explaining that they don't really want to bite us.
    She is not fearful of any animal or insect.
    I don't permit anyone to say things to her about insects or anything being icky.
    When she was old enough I let her hold my Kingsnake which she had no fear whatsoever.
    I must say though for some reason I fear the bite of a snake over the bite of a lizard. Maybe because with snakes you don't see them coming as they strike so fast.
     
  7. Lucysfriend

    Lucysfriend Elite Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    When I was a young child I had an aunt (that I never really cared for) lol that had a HUGE fear of snakes! She couldnt even look at a picture or see one on the tv w/o a total complete histerical screaming breakdown! I havent seen her since I was about 10 years old. Now when I was around 20 yrs.old I had a great friend that had some snakes...it took me months to get curious about them and I would freak out a little bit esp. when she was teaching me to handle them, ect. I wanted to, but was afraid and I had no idea why.
    Until I remembered that darn aunt lol. Once I realized why I was afraid, it completely vanished!
    My daughter has no fear what so ever. She loves watching them. She even wants a corn snake. lol
    And she absolutley loves our lizards...but I taught her how to respect them and never let her handle them on her own...she just loves to talk to them and observe them while I handle them she has whole conversations about her day ect LOL
     
  8. Typhanie

    Typhanie Elite Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    The interesting thing is that most people don't discern with a snake fear. Like arachnophobia, it's one of the strangest things I've seen. They could be 30 ft Retics, or 3" baby corns, poisonous or not. Doesn't matter. They are afraid of everything.
     
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    I beleive it is more a learned response. We may recognize a snake but to react with fear is a conditioned response. I remember reading a study where they presented very young children with a variety of snakes. The youngsters were interested and some were cautious but there was no outright fear. The experiment was repeated with older children and many of those children reacted with fear.
    Personally I grew up with a mother who was terrified of snakes. For some reason that fear just never "took" with me.
     
  10. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    As I mentioned earlier, I also believe this is inherited. I was fortunant and grew up with parents that loved all animals. (My mother owned 2 iguanas while I was a child.) My father built me my first custom enclosure when I was 6 in which he allowed me to house, and keep in the house, a wild caught Garter Snake. My exposure to reptiles at such a young age (since my birth) is likely where my interest was developed. Again, this too could be considered an inherited trait. If it is, I can assume my kids will also want reptiles of their own as they mature.
     
  11. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    Ah I see the confusion.
    To me, inherited implys something that is passed down, without control, such as hair color, shape of the face etc. It is just automatic due to the genetics of the family.
    I have heard often that humans fear of snakes is an inherited trait passed on genetically by way of some sort of an "ancestral memory".
    To that I disagree.
     
  12. Typhanie

    Typhanie Elite Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    Actually, come to think of it, I should be afraid of snakes. My mother has a deathly aversion to them, and most of my family thinks I'm truly strange for keeping one. I wonder why I'm not afraid of them.
     
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    Typh, just like me you are a MUTANT!;)
     
  14. Typhanie

    Typhanie Elite Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    Well, actually, a lot of things now make sense...

    ;)
     
  15. Og_

    Og_ Elite Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    Why is that so out of the ordinary to beleive?
    I have to respectfully disagree with your disagreement.
    I wonder why all animals have fears. And they rightly do!
    There is allways something that is going to either eat you or kill you out of protection. Humans didn't come to being in a vacuum. If we had to wait to learn to be afraid, Our species would be extinct long ago. How is it a bird is born knowing how to make a nest in a tree to avoid predators? As a bird instinctivly knows to peck for worms, Our anscestors knew to avoid snakes.
     
  16. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    No problem there buddy!;) I have had this conversation with people before.

    If there was such an ancestral, instinctive, fear of snakes, then would we not all be born with it? Would our instincts not all be genetically coded with "the only good snake is a dead snake" mentality and none of us would be here talking about keeping pet snakes.

    It has been my experience that children who have not been taught to fear snakes, do not. They may be cautious or unsure of them at first but the blind unreasoning fear that many people exhibit is apparently not present until its been cultivated. Every one of my numerous grandchildren, as well as children of friends, when introduced to my snakes had varying aspects of curiosity but never outright terror!
    Which by the way many of the PARENTS exhibited!
    Fortunately they knew me well enough to trust that I would never put a child in harms way.
    I have worked with several people to overcome snake phobias. In talking with people regarding the fear that they have, many can pinpoint exactly how and when they came to have this fear. Usually due to a traumatic occurance when they were young. It is not something that just automatically IS. There is a source and a reason for it.
     
  17. MadDog

    MadDog Elite Member

    Re: Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are F

    I have to agree with Merlin, Out of three cousins I have, all brothers and sister, two of them are terrified of dogs and anyother strange animal at that because my aunt is. My aunt had a bad experience with a neighbor hood dog and now sees all dogs as mean creatures. Had she not have had this experience she wouldn't be affraid and neither would two of her kids, but at the same time I see where you're comming from Og_. I just think Merlins fits the mold better, but both are possible.
     
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