A highlight from 740: There. I Fixed It.

This American Life
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

He was a child. Sam was scared of spiders. That's scared normal way where you know. lots of. Don't feel great when we see a big spider steak or big bug or whatever it invaded all aspects of my life at all points. In the year i was thinking about spiders all the time any room i walked into i looked in the corners. I looked under the table. Crouch down Every night before. I went to bed. I fully unmade my bed walking down the street. I wouldn't walk under anything that i would try to avoid right angles to the best of my good because that's where spiders going to make its web. But but you scared that one would find you just because that's where they are whether or not it would fall on me was really relevant. Just seeing spider not moving moving large small it just created a feeling in my body. That was just i would shake i would throw up. I would faint and of course if you're costly going through your life looking for spiders you'll find one as a kid. He didn't do sleepovers. Didn't this summer camp. Other kids made fun of him. People did not understand people pitied him. I'm going to grow up. It did not go away. His fear ruin dates. He wants found a spider the size of your thumbnail and his car. And so the guy that day i went to psychiatrist for exposure therapy. I went to psychiatrist to talk about it. i couldn't watch an image of a spider on tv screen Let me ask you. Does this name anything to you. Peter parker now. Oh spiderman yeah. Could you watch those films. No absolutely not. I don't even know if spiderman has anything to do with spiders to be honest then you seeing hypnotherapist was going nowhere when you read in the new york times about this new treatment for phobias. They can get full results in just one day and reached out to the doctor behind it a psychologist. Dr merrill kin can amsterdam. And if i don't have to be part of a study and get the treatment victory. Nothing new is food to the netherlands. A film crew captured what happened during his treatment for documentary series called a cure for fear. Doing fine nervous yeah. It's okay stand outside the door grooms. She opens it. He looks in an aquarium with brown. Furry tarantula maybe four or five inches in size yes. There's a spider in the tank. Let's not wait too long so it would be very good if you can already walk in a room and then i close the door mortgage breaks. We're doing very well. I think you can hear that. I was breathing hard. And i'm feeling that there's adrenaline. I crouch down my arms crossed. Dr kent then opens the door of the tank. Oh god no no no. You're not gonna make me look in there. Yes i'm going to ask you. Please come with me in here in that notion and then can you also carry terry. Yeah come and get the spider to move around This tank she she sprays it with water and everytime she's the spider kind of waves its legs or moves around a little okay. Our high ensure distress. Right firming port nook to one and sprayed admit so yeah sam wondering when you scream like this. I'm wondering what goes through your head that i feel like i can feel it on me that i'm going to be attacked by it. None of this is rational right. I know it's not that. I know that the thing isn't going to jump out of the tank and move like four feet in the air and jump on me. I get that. But it doesn't matter. Because i feel that the absolute worst things that can happen are going to happen and are in fact happening. The reason not to can't wants to max out on anxiety like this is that she wants to trigger the memories and feelings of fear of spiders that are stored in his brain and then when his brain goes to store. This big new terrible experience with the old ones has to re save the old memories. She gives them a drug. A beta bacher caught propranolol that disrupts that process. And i know this sounds so simple. How can this be real but by disrupting the way that the brain re saves those memories. She neutralizes them very next day. Sam returns to the same room he walks right in. Breathing is normal. There's fear in that. I don't know that there's i don't understand my feeling because i've never been like this before. Nothing physically internally was happening that used to you didn't feel the fear. I didn't feel the fear now adrenaline and all i felt. I guess excitement that this was new. We think you are able to touch it and she says. Do you want a deal. And i said look if you hold my hand. I'll pet the spider. And i did a thing started to move and then she's like. Do you wanna pet it again. And i said yes. It does just run talaa those over three years ago and sam says the effect of the treatment has only deepened as he's had more calm interactions with spiders is around for spiders anymore everywhere he goes and remember. He wants soda car when he found spider in it. He told me that the day before. I interviewed him. Here's driving in the suv. That he owns today flipped down. The mirror spider dropped into his lap. Going sixty said if that had happened back in the day for the treatment he really made crashed his car but now roll down. The window picked up spider through it outside. Can you talk about just like how extreme the treatment was. I thought at one point i was going to have a heart attack in that room. Does it seem bright. Somehow that you'd have to go through something so extreme to get over something so extreme. It's what had to be done. You know fighting. Fire with fire radiation therapy. you know. it's your last resort option that you have to deal with a problem that can't be solved in any other way. This is the nuclear option program. The nuclear option the stories with his problem. Somebody decides to throw the book at it. Go big do everything they can think of. Let me see what happens. As a result to the people that defying book is aimed at but also people. It is not aimed at you get hit with it anyway. Wbz chicago is this american life. I'm your friendly neighborhood. Radio

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