My Extreme Animal Phobia

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
My Extreme Animal Phobia TV Poster Image
Clients undergo intense, emotional therapy to end phobias.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series shows how controlled exposure therapy can help people get over their animal phobias. It also underscores the idea that these phobias are often a result of deeper psychological issues, and not about the animal.
 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dr. Zasio pushes her patients, but is also very kind and polite in her approach. Some of her clients are often confused and/or amused by other clients' phobias.

Violence

Some of these phobias are a result of witnessing animal attacks or other violent events. Many of the clients react angrily to Dr. Zasio. One scene shows a mouse being fed to a snake; another shows a client vomiting out of fear.

Sex
Language

Words like "hell" and "piss" are audible; lots of bleeped profanity ( "s--t,"  "f--k" ) is uttered from extremely frightened participants.

Consumerism

Dr. Zasio's is the director of the Anxiety Treatment Center of Sacramento. Apple computers are visible, but the logos are covered.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this series, which features people with crippling animal phobias receiving exposure treatment to overcome their fears, includes intense scenes where clients cry, yell, swear (the strongest words bleeped), vomit, etc. The show contains plenty of references to past violent encounters with animals. Sensitive viewers may find some of the scenes disturbing. Viewers of all ages are reminded not to try any of the therapeutic techniques featured here on their own.

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What's the story?

MY EXTREME ANIMAL PHOBIA features people from across the United States who suffer from paralyzing animal phobias and their efforts to overcome them. Folks terrified of animals like pit bulls, spiders, and snakes move into a treatment house in Sacramento, California, for five days. Under the supervision of clinical psychologist Robin Zasio, they are each consistently exposed to the animal that has kept them from living normal lives in order to become desensitized to them. As they go through the process, they also tap into some of the deeper psychological issues that these phobias represent. At the end of each episode, updates are given about the progress of each of the clients after they leave treatment.

Is it any good?

Some folks may find people's over-the-top reactions to tiny spiders or pit bull puppies ridiculous and humorously entertaining, but these moments also demonstrate how the physical and/or emotional impact of a traumatic event involving an animal can interfere with people's day-to-day lives for years. They also show how difficult these fears can be to conquer, and how emotional the process of overcoming them can be.

It's voyeuristic, but it also shows the courage that program participants have when confronting what they fear the most. Meanwhile, animal lovers will appreciate the show's underlying message, which is that these phobias are not the animal's fault at all.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about phobias. Do you or someone you know have an extreme fear of something? How do you/they cope with this? What is the difference between being afraid of something, and having a phobia?

  • Why do people agree to appear on shows like this? Do you think shows like this are intended to be helpful to viewers? Or are they produced mainly to entertain audiences?

TV details

For kids who love reality television

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