Doctors Cured Arachnophobia by Cutting out a Part of the Brain
A British man lost his fear of spiders alongside a piece of his brain. In the case study, the doctors detailed how they cut out a male patient's amygdala, which cured his arachnophobia.
According to the case, the patient, a 44-year-old businessman, was experiencing sudden seizures tied to sarcoidosis, which is a disease that is caused by inflammation in the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, eyes, skin or other tissues. Sarcoidosis can lead to brain damage, and for this patient, the disease was affecting the left side of his amygdala. The amygdala consists of a set of nerve cells that are linked to fear responses and pleasure.
After the surgery, patient's arachnophobia was cured. He reported wanting to touch spiders and study them up close. However, he also experienced a "stomach-lurching" dislike to music, according to the New York Daily News. The report noted that removing the amygdala did not get rid of all of his fears. He was still very much afraid of public speaking.
"The phenomenon of abolition of specific phobia after amygdala removal has not, to our knowledge, been previously reported," the report detailed.
Despite this outcome, the procedure was extremely invasive and therefore, the doctors do not plan on testing this option for curing phobias.
The study, "Abolition of lifelong specific phobia: a novel therapeutic consequence of left mesial temporal lobectomy," was presented in Neurocase.