8.5: Specific Phobia
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Name: Ronald “Ron” Billius Weasley
Source: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (books, 1997-2007)
Ron Weasley is first presented to the public audience as a young, goofy 11-year-old wizard boy. Throughout the series he transitions into a mature young adult. He attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Overall he is an average student never going above in expectations and never going under. He is the youngest boy in the Weasley family out of Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, and George. He also has a younger sister Ginny, who he is very protective of. His mother, Molly, is an incredibly loving woman, taking care of her children and running a very crazy household. Her husband’s name is Arthur Weasley and he works a modest job at the Ministry of Magic. The Weasley family is very rare in the wizardry world because they come from what is known as pureblood. This means that the Weasley family only have witch and wizard blood in their biological line. It is rare and often used by other Wizardry family has a way to declare dominance among their kind. The Weasleys, however, do not mistreat others and do not consider themselves to be above the rest of the wizardry population. Their good nature is one of the few things they are rich with, as there are very poor with only a modest income. They have been known to pass on handed down clothing among the children and make them handmade gifts because they cannot afford much else. They struggle finically with getting their children everything they need for school and they live in a small house that is referred to as the Burrow. Ron has a particularly difficult time dealing with the teasing that is brought on to his family because of their financial standing. He often has to defend his family to other people, especially towards Draco Malfoy, who is not afraid to bring up the handed down clothing whenever he wants to insult Ron.
Ron has two best friends at his school. They are the beautiful and very smart Hermione Granger and the ever popular boy-who-lived, Harry Potter. They have all been close since their first year in Hogwarts, when they all started battling against the evil wizard Voldemort. The relationship among these best friends, however, has often been rocky. Hermione and Ron fight constantly and as the books progress you can start to see a romantic relationship form. It is not until the final book that the audience completely knows the true feelings between these two characters. Ron and Harry instantly became best friends, but it was often hard for Ron to stand in the background of Harry’s ever growing shadow. This caused a lot of tension between the two, but in the end the relationship stayed strong. The biggest problem Ron faced in his life was the financial well-being of his family. He was very lucky to have both of his parents still alive and not have to face the torment that was given to Hermione from being muggle-born. Once he completes his seven years of training at Hogwarts, Ron wants to become an Auror, who are known for catching evil wizards. He is very good at chess and likes to use strategies to help him in difficult situations. During his years in school Ron saw himself as the Head Boy and the Gryffindor Quidditch captain. Ron has difficultly dealing with certain situations and often lets his anger get the best of him. He tends to explode and lash out against others when things become too difficult to bear. The biggest weakness he faces is jealousy of those around him. He is not completely satisfied with what he has been given and normally wants what others have. This makes his relationships sometimes difficult, but over time Ron began to get over his jealousy issues.
Description of the Problem
In the second book of the Harry Potter series, The Chamber of Secrets, the audience becomes aware of the fact Ron is incredibly afraid of spiders. The being around them scares him immensely and the mere idea of spiders turns him into the world’s biggest baby. When he is around them he begins to shake and he starts screaming at a high pitch. If he is able to form words at all, they are difficult to understand. His fear stops him in his tracks. Physiologically, his eyes get big, he has difficulty breathing, and his face sometimes turns white. His anxiety is so high in fact that he thinks the end of the world is happening and he must escape from the situation.
It is very clear to see that Ron is suffering from a Specific Phobia, in particular Arachnophobia. This falls under the DSM-IV five general types of specific phobias in the animal type category.
As mentioned earlier, Ron does not even need to be in the around spiders to be afraid of them. Only mentioning them is enough to scare him and make him want the conversation shifted to a different topic.
B. Exposure to the phobic stimulus almost invariably provokes an immediate anxiety response, which may take the form of a situationally bound or situationally predisposed panic attack. Children can show affects and characteristics when it comes to specific phobias. Children can show anxiety by crying, throwing tantrums, experiencing freezing or clinging to the parent that they have the most connection to.
His level of anxiety definitely rises, as evidenced by how his voice changes, he begins sweating profusely, he starts shaking, and he does everything he can to avoid the situation.
C. The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable.
In Ron’s case his fear of spiders started long before his traumatic experience with them in The Chamber of the Secrets. This even may have enhanced his fear, but he knows that is fear is often the point of joke and he understands that he sometimes takes it to an extreme level of anxiety. However, the amount of teasing he gets from others does not stop his fear from being expressed.
D.The phobic situation(s) is(are) avoided, or else endured with intense anxiety or distress.
It is clear that Ron will do anything to avoid being around spiders, including using his wizardry skills on them.
E. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared situation(s) interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational (or academic) functioning, social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.
This does not seem like the case for Ron. He is able to conquer his fear after he builds up some esteem to do so. It is rare for him to walk away from a situation just because spiders are present, but it does require him to build up a lot of motivation in order to follow through. His normal routine is often just delayed when a spider is present or mentioned.
F. In individuals under age 18 years, the duration is at least 6 months.
Throughout the majority of the series, Ron is under the age of 18. He has had this fear of spiders in the second book when he and Harry had to go into the Forbidden Forest in order to find out if Hagrid was really opening the Chamber of Secrets. In the third book, The Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron and his fellow students at Hogwarts were learning how to battle of Boggarts, which turn into their biggest fear. For Ron’s case it would turn into a spider since that is his biggest fear. In the seventh book, The Deathly Hallows, Ron is trying to destroy an evil force and it uses his fear against him by making spiders appear. In the other books, Ron’s fear does not have a huge part, but it is mentioned in small sections of the book with comments explaining that his fear has been around for quite a long time. It is quite clear that every time spiders are mention that Ron’s fear comes up as well. This definitely exceeds six months.
G. The phobic avoidance associated with the specific object or situation are not better accounted for by another mental disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (e.g., fear of dirt on someone with an obsession about contamination), post-traumatic stress disorder (e.g., avoidance of stimuli associated with a severe stressor), separation anxiety disorder (e.g., avoidance of school), social phobia (e.g., avoidance of social situations because of fear of embarrassment), panic disorder with agoraphobia, or panic disorder without agoraphobia.
Ron has no other signs of a mental disorder with his fear of spiders. It seems like the phobia is the only thing that is causing problems to come about in his life. He is actually quite open about his fear of spiders and it is often mentioned in the books to release tension during difficult and dramatic times.
It is very obvious that Ron is afraid of spiders. The difference between him and other individuals is that he faces his phobias despite how bad is anxiety responds. He fits the criteria and allows for a very clear and diagnosable explanation about his disorder. It is not unrealistic to place him in this category of anxiety disorders.
Accuracy of Portrayal
The portrayal of Ron does a very good job of explaining what it would feel like to live with specific phobia and for the audience presents many realistic ideas about Arachnophobia. The books give good examples about what is going on with Ron’s anxiety about the spiders and why he reacts to them in the way he does. The main problem with the portrayal is that it is often used for humor in the majority of the books. There are points when the phobia is quite obvious and understood in its full meaning, but the majority of the time is spent on Ron’s phobia being mentioned as a joke. For the readers, it is used as a nice little sigh of relief during the dramatic parts of this intense book series. It is important to remember that the Harry Potter series is mostly used for entertainment purposes and that sometimes it can over dramatic about humorous moments and complex storylines that allow for a more enjoyable read. This causes some of Ron’s phobia tactics to be displayed humorously and causes it to be funny and less like a mental disorder.
The most recommended treatment for Ron would be Behavioral Therapy. In this process exposure techniques would be used to allow Ron’s anxiety levels to lower during different stages of exposure. The exposure to the spiders over a long period of time would eventually causes his anxiety levels to lower greatly. This would also cause less intensity with his fear. Ron’s sessions would start with a small amount of exposure to spiders by first talking about them, showing him pictures, and being in the same room as one. The steps would increase only after Ron became comfortable with the spiders and his anxiety levels would level out. The steps would increase with exposure until Ron was able to hold a spider and not attack it or be afraid. It would also be beneficial for Ron to go through some cognitive therapy as well. This would help him identify with the truth about spiders and help him to stop thinking that they are terrible creatures. This would be important because Ron is in the magical world and his interactions are different from those in the muggle world. Ron would be able to show great improvements with his mental disorder, but he is however a stubborn red head. This might be the only thing to stop him from being successful with his treatment.