Local News

Raleigh Woman Comes Face to Face With Greatest Fear

Posted February 16, 2001

— Most people do not like great heights, but some will not even climb a flight of steps. People with phobias often take common fears to an extreme, but an Orange County woman decided it was time to fight her fear.

Judy Bosnia's overpowering fear of snakes began with a childhood prank.

"I rode my bike over, and they threw a snake on me," she said. "The snake, the bike and I rolled down the hill."

Her fear of snakes took over and now interferes with her life.

"I sell real estate, and I am limited for people who want to buy lots or walk lots," she said. "I can't do it, because I'm always afraid that a snake will be there."

Bosnia went to clinical psychologist Dr. Reid Wilson, who uses a variety of techniques to treat phobias.

"Sometimes we use imagery and relaxation," he said. "Sometimes we use hypnosis and self hypnosis. Sometimes we use breathing skills to help bring themselves into control."

Control begins one step at a time. First, Bosnia faced images of snakes on video and paper. She then took the next step -- going to the N.C. Museum of Life and Science in Durham to face the real thing.

She kept her anxiety in check with deep, cleansing breaths as she saw the snakes, creating a mental image of a plexiglass barrier of protection.

Bosnia then went into the museum's reptile room, touching and feeling a huge boa constrictor. Without preparation, Wilson says the exposure could have triggered a panic attack.

"It's highly threatening to have a panic attack," he said. "You feel like you are dying."

For Bosnia, the barriers were gone. She rubbed the boa constrictor.

"I feel like I've conquered a fear, so that's very empowering," she said. "It's definitely a very big life improvement." What did you think about this story?Send us feedback.

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