Honing our Fears
By Pam Henderson
I made a quick exit from my twilight gardening last Sunday when a bat invited himself to dinner in my backyard. I’m deathly afraid of bats – chiroptophobia at its worse. It’s not the bats’ blood-sucking that scares me – because I believe that vampire bats are only in South America. Rather, I’m afraid that they’ll get stuck in my hair. As an impressionable 5-year old, the teenage girls in our neighborhood told me it was so. That event set my bat phobia into motion.
To overcome something like a peanut allergy, there is a belief that one should be exposed in small doses of peanuts. This exposure gradually increases until the immunity is built. It would seem that limited exposures to a phobia would be therapeutic in overcoming the fear, meaning that if I walked through the Australia Exhibit at Brookfield Zoo, where the bats are flying freely without any overhead netting to distance them from guests, I would become desensitized to bats. Not gonna happen in a million years. I cannot even touch the glass display where the bats hang upside while feasting on orange slices at Potawatomie Zoo. I would be more likely to arm wrestle a hungry alligator or pet a rabid coyote. Just seeing bats in a nature show on television makes my skin crawl. If a bat ever made his way into my home, I think I might have to move.