Friday, July 28, 2006

Ophidiophobic or only occasional Ophidiophobia?...

deadly snake in the grassThe word ophidiophobia comes from the Greek words "ophis" which refers to snakes and [of course] "phobia" meaning fear. Fear of snakes is much more prevalent than most animal phobias, partially due to the fact that snakes [are f***ing scary and] have been able to survive in almost all climates and terrain be it jungle, forest, farm land, or sea.

Although this post was inspired by SNAKES ON A PLANE, Samuel L Jackson's latest action thriller, I have had many personal experiences that promote my own ophidiophobia -more below. Back to the film: it is already a cult hit - "weeks before it is due to be shown in cinemas. During production it was decided that some scenes should be re-shot and others added to give the movie a harder edge. The impetus for the re-edit came from fans' comments on the internet. The studio heard them and they let it happen," said Jackson. It is a curious and perhaps unique example of internet buzz shaping the final look of a movie - one that no one, not even film critics, has yet seen."

As Borys Kit, from The Hollywood Reporter, told us "In this case, it wasn't the usual reshoot, hastily assembled to fix a nagging story problem. Instead, the studio decided to create new scenes that would take the movie from PG-13 into R-rated territory.The second round of filming also came about because of intense and growing fan interest in the movie, which was directed by David R. Ellis and is not scheduled to be released until Aug. 18.

"Snakes" stars Samuel L. Jackson as an FBI agent who has to fight a planeload of snakes unleashed by an assassin bent on killing a witness in protective custody. Sight unseen, the movie has grown from something of a joke into a phenomenon slithering untamed throughout the Internet.

This is clearly one of those films you'll either be dying to see or won't even dare read about; the fear is almost tangible and has been studied in depth: here Ker Than, a Staff Writer of LiveScience , tells us "An evolutionary arms race between early snakes and mammals triggered the development of improved vision and large brains in primates, a radical new theory suggests. The idea, proposed by Lynne Isbell, an anthropologist at the University of California, Davis, suggests that snakes and primates share a long and intimate history, one that forced both groups to evolve new strategies as each attempted to gain the upper hand. Abstract and access to the article by L.A. Isbell here.

"If snake and primate history are as intimately connected as Isbell suggests, then it might account for other things as well. "Snakes and people have had a long history; it goes back to long before we were people in fact," he said. "That might sort of explain why we have such extreme attitudes towards snakes, varying from deification to "ophidiphobia,"...

Other recent research is connected to this, for instance: Ottmar Lipp from The School of Psychology, The University of Queensland: "Of snakes and flowers: does preferential detection of pictures of fear-relevant animals in visual search reflect on fear-relevance?" and "The role of the amygdala in human fear: automatic detection of threat" by Arne Ohman of The Psychology Section, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute and Hospital in Sweden.

All the above could of course stem from previous work published in National Geographic several years ago: "This time difference, according to the researchers, suggests that the feared objects 'popped out' from the display and were detected more automatically. In a related experiment, the researchers found that people who had indicated on a questionnaire that they were afraid of snakes or spiders identified the fear-inducing images even faster than they identified the objects that did not evoke fear. This quicker response by people with a phobia about snakes and spiders is an emotional reaction that enables them to better avoid the objects they fear, the researchers said.

snake in the grassEven 'harmless' snakes like the grass snake pictured here can cause problems if you've a weak heart! Back to my own experiences, which you presume to be more like this, [...warning: please don't follow the links if you are a bit sacred and likely to have nightmares! Also, please don't read on if you don't like rude language :-)...] (although I'm no Mark O'Shea seen here with a 12ft green anaconda in the Venezuelan Llanos) almost on a daily-ish basis they would involve rattlers and anacondas. ...motherfucker! That's one big motherfucking snake, as Samuel L.J. would say.



The Great Gildersleeve said...

Now Span,
I think you have hit on the one thing that I dislike that I can think it a phobia, I can't say but I think it may be...I dislike snakes.

Which as I am unlikely to ever come into contact with one seems a bit bizarre.

Then again I can remember perhaps over twenty years ago being in Darlington and looking in a shop window and the person next to me turned around and had a snake wrapped around his wrist/arm.

And I did feel the heart pounding but I suppose it was so unexpected, you don't expect someone walking around a shopping centre with such a pet.

I can manage with spiders in general and do not always feel that I need to kill them. I'd rather put them back outdoors.

Though certain types I do dislike the way they move across carpet sometimes when you see a certain movement out of the corner of the eye.

I'm going to go back and read your post more fully though.

I've mentioned on Six's blog, your tip about the counter has worked...thanks...and seeing as you have had your's for so long I feel reasonably safe to pay on pay pal.

Span Ows said...

Thanks Gildy. The Mark O'Shea picture is from where I used to live. The 'Llanos' are the flood plains of the Orinoco and are largely under water from around June/July until November. This of course concentrates the snakes on the dry areas that remain. We had a company policy of a kilo of sugar/pasta for every rattle that was presented by the llaneros (plainsmen/cowboys). In fact the rattlers were the least scary and a guy with a stick would win 'the battle' every time; you hit on the main element of fear: the 'surprise' when you first see a snake - the reaction is physical as the mind is so quick you are reacting before you think you've reacted! I was chased by snakes twice but that was because THEY were scared and on both occasions they were non-venemous. I have a mate who was bitten and another who had one of his workers die from a rattlesnake bite and another 'mentor' who was lame from an anaconda bite (yes, I know) many years before....must have thought his foot was a duck or something. Biggest one I saw alive up close and personal was a bit longer than the one in O'shea's photo and the biggest one I saw dead was somewhat smaller than the one in the other photo (still took 4 men to lift it' though!)

flyingfinn said...

I don't particulary like or dislike snakes. I don't like spiders though. I don't mean the harmless house spiders we get in northern Europe, but those big ones you find in the tropics. Anything with that many eyes just ain't natural. They're devilish things, and you don't know what they're thinking - they could strike at any moment. At least with snakes, you can tell if they're agitated or not.

Span Ows said...

Hi Finny! Haven't seen you about lately but then I haven't been about either!

Very true - your last sentence, very true. I'm always nice to spiders just in case their parents or alien kindered come along and take over the planet :-/

Curmy said...

Don't mind snakes. Can't stand spiders.

The Great Gildersleeve said...

I don't think I'd like spiders if I was surrounded by them like in that film such cases its commensense more than a phobia.

Span Ows said...

Eight legged freaks was naother 'good' spider movie Gildy, and surprisingly good effects i.e they spiders were real so the movements etc were perfect but they were superimposed on the set/action in a way that was undetectable...shudder...

curmy...hmmm, I'd like to hear you say that if snakes are a daily occurence, or in the agrden...or tucked in behind the kitchen sink...or in the car etc...the cat couldn't manage you know!

Span Ows said...

P.S. Just like to add that all the 'snake films' I've seen have been crap: good suspense but unrealistic when you actually get to see the snakes...hopefully this "Snakes on a Plane" will be diffferent.

Curmy said...

That's true, Span, I'll modify that to English snakes.
I wouldn't live in any country where my Little Darlings might be attacked by a snake !

Six Years Late said...

How come I haven't heard of this? Oh God I feel old now. Same happened with Lily Allen the other day.

Span Ows said...

At last a comment about the film! :-)

Six, I know I'm a few (lots) years older than you and I got used to being 'out of the loop' long ago.

Re lily allen, you're not reading enough blogs ;-)


IsobelMagsBuchan said...

I don't like spiders and snakes
And that ain't what it takes to love me
Like I wanna be loved by you

Show me your age and tell me you remember that song!

No swollen ankles here!

Span Ows said...

I need to hear you sing it Mags...

...and I thought you were coming-on to me! (note to self - must try harder)

That Mary Lou sounds like my kinda gal...;-)

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Can't sing at present Span. Voice is even huskier than usual and my nose looks like Rudolph's.

Knew you were old enough to remember that awful song!