Seventy-five Days of Phobias Day 8: The Eight Legs of Death

In my upcoming release, Driving in Neutral (the book that spawned this EPIC 75 days of phobia series) Emerson and Olivia watch a cheesy 50s monster movie titled The Eight Hands of Death, which features a “terrifying” giant octopus. But here today Rachael Johns, a woman who never irons and author of Outback Blaze, discusses her Octo-creature-phobia — and then some.

Author pic couch Rachael JohnsI’m a pretty brave lady—I quite like mice, I can deal with most insects and run in summer with the knowledge I might quite possibly come across a snake. But put me in a room with a spider, however minute, and I become a total wuss. Yes, my name is Rachael Johns and I have arachnophobia, the irrational (apparently) fear of spiders.

To be quite frank I’m scared of anything that has eight-legs! It just doesn’t seem kosher. Most animals have four legs, insects six and us humans manage quite fine to get about on two, so I just can’t trust or get behind a creature that needs eight. It’s downright freaky and so yes, I’m scared of octopi as well. But when I looked for a name for this fear, I couldn’t find one, so we’re gonna focus on the spider fear for the moment.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t petrified of arachnids and my mum has a theory it goes right back to my grandfather. The whole family moved to Australia, Sydney to be precise, from England when I was only eight months old and grandpa was terrified I might get bitten by a Funnel Web or a Red Back. He did such a good job of instilling their danger into me that just the sight of any spider – even the perfectly harmless garden variety – has always sent me into a cold sweat.

Friends who have known me for years, will vouch for my fear – it’s not your run of the mill aversion. If there’s a spider within a few feet of me and I have no escape route or no big bad person to kill it for me, I go into a mad panic. I get the shakes, go sweaty, scream a lot and will even cry. I’m certain that if that spider bites me I will DIE!

Some said I’d get better when I had my kids and if I’m honest, I have finally started to panic less in the case of SMALL spiders but give me a huntsman and I’ll still lose the plot.

Speaking of huntsmen… when my second son was 14 months old we were doing swimming lessons in a friend’s pool out on a farm. There were about six babies, six mums and the teacher. One of the other babies had a MASSIVE huntsman spider on her head and her mum calmly walked them to the edge of the pool and then flicked the spider off with her OWN BARE HANDS. I said that if it’d been my child I would have dropped him! No one believed me, but sadly, I fear it might have been the case.

People have mentioned that there are programs to cure arachnophobia – I think the theory is they show you hundreds of spider pics and make you actually HOLD spiders, but I’m not that desperate to be cured. Although maybe there is something in this theory because a few years ago, I was bitten by a redback spider THREE TIMES in ONE DAY. I’d just finished breastfeeding my baby and suddenly felt a weird, painful itch spreading through my body. I gave the baby to granny and went to get changed. When I took off my pajama top a redback spider crawled out and onto my bed. We went to hospital, I was injected with anti-venom and spent a few hours under observation, but…


And since then I have been better. I still don’t LIKE spiders and if one happens to come upon my person I’ll shriek and carry on and feel genuine terror, but the fear has definitely lessened. Still, I cannot and will NEVER understand those mentally unstable people who DECIDE to have spiders as pets. Absolute insanity if you ask me!

Rachael’s latest release is Outback BlazeOutBackBlaze FC

Find out all about Rachael Johns


Follow on twitter @RachaelJohns 

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5 thoughts on “Seventy-five Days of Phobias Day 8: The Eight Legs of Death

  1. Rach, those spider stories just fed my own fear of the nasty crawly eight-legged horrors. Being bitten by a redback sounds just as nasty as I’d feared.


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