WASHINGTON — Phobias may soon become a thing of the past.
Phobia Free, a new app developed by British psychiatrists aims to help people conquer fears through an interactive game. The first thing developers are tackling — the fear of spiders, according to ABC News.
News stories about poisonous spiders found on grapes in Wisconsin or bananas in the United Kingdom, have limited many people’s fruit consumption. Just the sight of a spider sends many people running into the streets.
The app works to combat the phobia through a method called systematic desensitization, ABC News reports. Systematic desensitization is a gradual exposure to the thing one fears.
In other words, to beat the fear of spiders, one must be exposed to spiders.
London psychiatrist, Dr. Andres Fonseca and his colleagues told ABC News that he thought Arachnophobes should not be forced to confront the creatures that terrified them. So they developed an app that is actually a game.
The game uses animated cartoon-like images to start then gradually the images get more realistic and scarier.
The game begins with Itsy, a cartoon spider who is pink with big eyes. The game has participants interacting with her in different situations and places until they are ready to progress up to the second spider. There are nine spiders in all, with a tarantula look-alike as the last in the series.
Experts say four hours is all participants need to rid themselves of their spider phobia, but the game must be played consistently.
After spiders, Fonseca told ABC News he hopes to help people overcome their fear of crowds and of flying.