Dogs, spiders, mice, snakes. Understanding and overcoming zoophobias (2020) by V. Adamo – Book review

Dogs, spiders, mice, snakes. Understanding and overcoming zoophobias (2020) by V. Adamo – Book review

Dogs, spiders, mice, snakes. Understanding and overcoming zoophobias offers an interesting insight into anxiety in general and zoophobias in particular, describing its characteristics and analyzing the most effective treatment techniques.


Advertising message Vincenzo Adamo (2020), cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist, forensic psychopathologist and trainer; in his essay Dogs, spiders, mice, snakes. Understanding and overcoming zoophobias (edited by in.edit Psychology), explains, using simple language, where zoophobias originate from. The book begins with the story of Marco and Laura two boys who have one thing in common: Zoophobia, or phobia for animals. Both acknowledge that their fear is excessive and consider it necessary to overcome it, as they feel hampered in their personal freedom.

The two protagonists could feel hindered because in zoophobias, two responses are put in place: avoidance of situations in which the animals whose phobia they manifested could find themselves and escape if they were in front of them (Markus, 1987).

Before identifying the type of psychotherapeutic treatment to be applied to people with zoophobias, a necessary step is to understand the origin and nature of anxiety in general. Therefore, the author in the first chapter provides several definitions of anxiety, the corresponding physical symptoms including: increased attention, blood pressure, respiratory and cardiac pressure, sweating, increased blood level, increased muscle tension, slowing down of digestion, reduction of saliva secretion, increase of sugars produced by the liver for more energy (Zinbarg et al., 1992).

In addition to the physical symptoms just mentioned, the author describes the types of anxiety and when it is physiological or pathological, the symptoms, the effects it produces in the individual.

In the second chapter the causes of anxiety were analyzed in particular the hereditary component of anxiety was analyzed, the biological processes that occur at the brain level and the processes that occur at the intrapsychic level and emphasis was placed on the cognitive model of anxiety by Clark and Beck (2010). Furthermore, anxiety was analyzed as a learned response, understood as the result of the interaction between the individual and the environment (Bandura, 1969).

Advertising message What makes studying anxiety disorders interesting are the different things humans are afraid of; in the third chapter the different types of phobias were described, from the most common to the less frequent, placing particular emphasis on zoophobias (a topic that will be described in detail in the next chapter). In addition, the symptoms, their causes and when they emerge have been described.

After understanding the origins of anxiety in general and zoophobias in particular, the most effective treatments and techniques for zoophobias were described in the last chapter. In this last chapter we have exposed the techniques that can be used in the treatment of zoophobias. In particular, Virtual Reality would seem to elicit the same reactions and emotions of the situation experienced in the real world, increase the sense of self-efficacy in the patient and significantly reduce phobias even in subjects with particular conditions (for example subjects who have brain injuries and spectrum disorder autistic). Finally, the advantages, limitations and recent research concerning exposure have been exposed;