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How Shaq Used Exposure Therapy to Successfully Defeat His Phobia of Sharks

S haquille O'Neal is 7 "tall and weighs 326 pounds." He's a tall guy – much taller than a reef shark or a nurse shark, but even before he attended this year's Shark Week O Neal knew he could not stop a shark attack by sitting on one, and he was too worried about finishing as a buddy.

"I'm nervous because I'm being eaten by a shark "Neal said in [ShaqDoesSharkWeek where the former NBA star took small steps toward a goal to swim with sharks." I will not lie to you. Because I'm not a strong swimmer and I always suspected that I would be delicious. "

On the show, O'Neal went through a gradual process that eventually led him to confidently enter warm Bahamian waters surrounded by simple-going reef sharks Mitchell Schare, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Director of the Phobia & Trauma Clinic at Hofstra University, said that what O Neal went through looked like an accelerated version of exposure therapy ̵

1; a very real one Treatment for shark phobias.

"Not only could we help someone with a phobia of sharks with exposure therapy, I've already figured out how to do it," says Schare Inverse "For me, treating fear of a dog or a bee is no different. It's a shark – okay, no big deal, you have to get over it and we can help.

  Shark Week
Spoilers: Shaq steps into the cage.

Schare explains that exposure therapy is the most common treatment for the general classification of anxiety disorders, whether it be a phobia, an obsessive-compulsive disorder or Since the beginning of the twentieth century, exposure therapy has been used to help people overcome panic and break through patterns of avoidance and anxiety.

Exposure therapy is usually divided into four parts, one person being slow and systematic Mark Powers, Ph.D., professor of psychology and the University of Texas, Austin, expose to inverse .The rate of therapy is very specific to the person, adds Schare.

First of all, a therapy program always requires an assessment phase in which you have to find out what the background of a person is and m inviting her to explain her anxiety, "he says. "What I need to understand is how that person's life has changed over time because of that fear."

It is important to determine the parameters of anxiety to find out how to beat them, says Schare. For example, if the patient is afraid of sharks, he might ask where they are afraid and what they fear exactly. The use of shark-related stimuli-such as a photograph of a shark, a shark's tooth, a model of a shark, a dead shark, and so on-would allow him to better characterize the nature of anxiety. A calligraphic drawing of Jaws ? That could get a sharpness rating of 15 out of 100. A fin flickering in the water near the shore? That could be a 95.

  Shaq, Shark Week
Shaq works on his fears.

Once people can assess their anxiety within the 30 to 40 range, they may be exposed to physical stimuli. It may begin by holding a shark's tooth or touching a dead shark in a museum, which may cause small sharks and later large sharks to be seen in an aquarium. The conclusion might look like a person with a shark phobia confidently walking on a friend's boat, knowing she can be sharks among them. The penultimate victory, he says, would turn a person into something like Shaq Cage

In Shark Week's Special, O? Neal initially refuses to interact with cartilaginous fish, but is From a comedian convinced Rob Riggle and a team of scientists to pet a good-natured nurse shark. Later he is persuaded to swim in an aquarium with ambivalent reef sharks, although he is allowed to go whenever he wants. In the end, O'Neal comes into the open sea with his "Shaq Cage", surrounded by even more sharks. This experience goes so well that the Kazam star goes one step further: He dives out of the cage and swims between the sharks.

  Shark Week
The Shaq Cage.

"Exposure therapy can really be used to help people alleviate fears like sharks, because the thing that maintains a phobia avoids the thing you are afraid of," Georgia State University Psychology Professor Page Anderson, Ph .D. declared inverse . "People with a phobia know that their fear is irrational, but knowing that the fear is irrational does not make it disappear."

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