Recently, I have had a number of patients tell me that the Cicada thing is freaking them out. The look of those bugs, the weird sound that greets us every day, the feasting on their dead bodies by birds…these and more circumstances surrounding these creatures are producing a great deal of fear. This fear is to the point where the affected people are not going outside for walks, not eating out on their decks and other outdoor activities are being curtailed. Inherently, we all know that these bugs do not bite us, carry diseases to us or In any other form or fashion, present a danger to us. The fear factor is not really based in reality at all.
Having these discussions with these patients caused me to take a step back and think more about “fear”, how reality based is the fear and how fear changes our behavioral patterns. Personally, I have a fear of snakes. I avoid walking in certain outdoor areas and will not swim in lakes for fear of being bitten by a snake. Is this based in reality? Heck no. Walking in the woods or swimming in a lake carries a very, very low chance of encountering a snake that will not slither away as opposed to coming after a person.
I have a number of patients that have a fear of flying (actually the fear is of crashing). Despite the statistics that prove that driving in a car carries a higher chance of a crash and death than flying in an airplane, many people have this fear of flying and therefore will only go to places they can reach by auto.
So, there are clearly “fears” that people have that will: 1-alter their behavioral patterns and 2- the fears are not based on reality. Let’s move the discussion to the weight control arena (no surprise, huh?). Being overweight/obese can lead to many serious and life-altering/life-threatening issues including cancer, strokes, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain and serious disease due to a lower immune system.
Why does the “fear” of these dreaded diseases/complications not alter behavioral patterns of affected people propelling them to remain steadfast and focused on their weight control efforts? These are very realistic fears that have been proven over and over to occur to people that cannot control weight.
I am not certain anyone has an answer to this question. Unrealistic fears (such as mine of snakes) may be developed during childhood by hearing stories, watching movies and other impactful events as our brains were developing. Fear of flying? This may be more a fear of not having control of a situation.
Here is a video from one of our patients, who overcame her fear and made this video to show how harmless cicadas are. A behavioral change! Picking up an insect that she feared!