Arachnophobia Sliced Out of a Man's Brain
How would you like your worst fear physically removed from your brain, never to bother you again? That's exactly what seems to have happened to one man who had an irrational fear of spiders. Interestingly, the phobia was eliminated on accident - a happy consequence of a very serious procedure.
A study of this remarkable medical phenomenon was recently published in the journal Neurocase: The Neural Basis of Cognition, and details how a 44-year-old business man utterly forgot his fear of spiders following the removal of part of his brain.
According to the study, the patient had been suffering from a rare condition called sarcoidosis, which can cause damage to the skin, lungs, and even the brain. Damage to his amygdala - the brain region associated with emotional reaction - in particular was somehow leading to severe and sudden seizures.
To combat this life-threatening condition, doctors felt it prudent to remove the damaged portion of his brain in a painstaking procedure. Happily, the procedure went well, but soon after the operation the patient noticed two things.
He had suddenly developed a remarkably unusual stomach-lurching reaction to music, and his irrational fear of spiders - a phobia he had lived with all his life - was no longer a problem. According to the study, the reaction to music eventually abated, but his intense fear of spiders, called arachnophobia, never returned.