Harry's Dream:

A Study in Arachnophobia (pt.1)

by: Dr. K.D. Eastmann


A week long study of a patient who will be known as "Harry" yielded surprising results in the field of phobic disorders. Afflicted by chronic arachnophobia to the extent that living in his own country estate was made impossible, Harry agreed to participate in a revolutionary new phobia-control procedure which bears great promise for the development of this institute.

Controlled exposure to the trigger stimulus (arachnids) resulted in expected responses from the patient. Surprisingly, it was found that the most violent reactions came not from the direct exposure to the stimuli themselves, but rather from contact with the very surroundings associated with the spiders. Nurse N. experience outbursts of paranoia from the patient even during mundane activities such as administering food, medication etc. Statements like, "You forgot some spiders in my room, yesterday. Oh I might die! Overnight some of your spiders must have bit me! They were all over me!" show that rather than actual fear of the stimuli themselves, Harry's reactions were triggered by a form of hallucinatory complex. Most notable would be the patient screaming in the night about horribly realistic dreams, showing at least a partial recognition of his own condition.

Strangely, these hallucinations seemed real enough to produce actual physiological reactions in the body itself. The patient was found a few hours later ridden with symptoms of actual spider poisoning, spreading abnormally fast and to a curiously advanced degree throughout the body. Postmortem tests show no evidence of actual spider bites or toxins of any sort in the patient's bloodstream. An in-depth analysis will be conducted in part 2 of this paper.


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