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July 26, 2010 10:40 AM   Subscribe

How Do You Treat Rabbit Phobia? With rabbits. A German student who claimed her teacher was terrified of rabbits was exonerated in a defamation suit on Tuesday when the judge determined that the teacher did, indeed, have a raging case of leporiphobia. The bizarre story began when a chalk drawing of a bunny caused the teacher to cry and flee her classroom. How do psychologists treat rabbit phobia?
posted by Fizz (65 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
As someone with a phobia, I empathize with the teacher. It can be humiliating to not be able to deal with something other people completely take for granted.

On the other hand, this post totally needs more cute bunny pics.
posted by JoanArkham at 10:44 AM on July 26, 2010


The teacher has been dogged by her supposed rabbit phobia for years.

I see what they did there.
posted by DU at 10:48 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Huh. I've only encountered this before in Buffy: "And what's with all those carrots? What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?" I always thought Anya was faking it.

Is there anything people can't be terrified of?
posted by doteatop at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I actually know somebody with this. She tells me it's the eyes that are most terrifying, and she finds Easter a really difficult time of year.
posted by randomination at 10:51 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have many fears but I do not have any phobias. I've never been incapacitated by something that I fear. I think this makes it more difficult for me to sympathize with people who do have such extreme phobias.

A drawing causing such trauma is something I cannot fathom, but everyone is different.
posted by Fizz at 10:52 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


[this is narn]
posted by emelenjr at 10:53 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the exonerated article:

V. settled a similar suit she brought against a student in 2008, in which the student agreed to stop spreading rumors that V. started crying or went into fits every time she saw a rabbit or heard the animal's name, the court said in a statement.

It's odd that a teacher can even sue a 16-year-old kid for defamation, let alone suing multiple students over something like this. You would think by the time the first lawsuit was settled everyone and their brother would have already known about the rumors and assumed they were true.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:55 AM on July 26, 2010


Also, I don't get why you'd launch this suit. Or rather, I get WHY (to get the teasing to stop), but I don't get why you'd think it would actually work. Especially when you actually DO have the phobia.

I guess a previous student stopped because of a threat of a lawsuit, that's why. Which is an evil way to use the legal system but then it was evil to be spreading the rumor in the first place. Quite the conundrum.
posted by DU at 10:57 AM on July 26, 2010


A drawing causing such trauma is something I cannot fathom, but everyone is different.

I also cannot fathom this. I've studied psychology and phobias before, but I never thought something like this could cause someone to cry and run away. I can definitely imagine it happening maybe with some sort of imagery for violence or an accident, but not for a bunny.

Not to dismiss that this actually happens to some people with all sorts of phobias.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:58 AM on July 26, 2010


"it's the eyes that are most terrifying."
posted by stbalbach at 11:00 AM on July 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


So, shall we say she is made tharn by rabbits?
posted by Snyder at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


By virtue of even being in a classroom, I think you've given at least implied consent to viewing a depiction of a rabbit on a chalkboard.
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:03 AM on July 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


but not for a bunny

Evil rabbits. Bunnies have a dark side. The most famous rabbit of all, Lewis Carrol's down the rabbit hole, probably the most sinister of all.
posted by stbalbach at 11:06 AM on July 26, 2010


Do any non-human species have phobias?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:12 AM on July 26, 2010


I have a phobia of having phobias. Luckily my phobia of not having a phobia cancels it out.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:13 AM on July 26, 2010


this post totally needs more cute bunny pics.

Cute Overload - tag: bunnies.

Warning: lots of bunnies.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:14 AM on July 26, 2010


By virtue of even being in a classroom, I think you've given at least implied consent to viewing a depiction of a rabbit on a chalkboard.

lol, but a similar though did occur to me. This teacher becomes upset if someone even mentions rabbits. How does a person like that operate in normal society? Particularly around Easter, but even at other times of the year it is not uncommon to hear rabbits mentioned.
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on July 26, 2010


My ex's rabbit used to KICK my dachshund off the couch. They're not all sweet little fluffy babies, I'll have you know. Also, she chased the dachshund around the coffee table once.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:22 AM on July 26, 2010


How does a person like that operate in normal society?

You raise a good point. I think that she has no right to sue since it is her choice to be in a position where there is the possibility of rabbits or rabbit-related discussions to occur. It is one thing if students found out about it and went to her house and caused a panic-attack there, but this is her phobia and her choice to be out in public.
posted by Fizz at 11:25 AM on July 26, 2010


By Frith, I understand that Woundwort would traumatize anybody.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 11:26 AM on July 26, 2010


Do any non-human species have phobias?

Vacuum cleaner, meet the dog and cat.
posted by dibblda at 11:26 AM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think that's a totally rational fear. Vacuum cleaners, to a cat, are basically giant doom-whirring daleks.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:30 AM on July 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


I hope that no one with leporiphobia has ever tried to watch Donnie Darko...
posted by sotalia at 11:35 AM on July 26, 2010


Well, we cojuld just eat them, but I'd like Norman Spinrad to weigh in on the issue first.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:36 AM on July 26, 2010


Would her phobia extend to chinchillas? Their eyes are about ten times scarier than rabbits.
posted by variella at 11:43 AM on July 26, 2010


I think that she has no right to sue since it is her choice to be in a position where there is the possibility of rabbits or rabbit-related discussions to occur.

I honestly can't tell if you are being sarcastic or what.

In any case, she isn't suing because someone drew a rabbit. She's suing because someone is spreading rumors about her (that happen to be rabbit-related).

Although now I bet rabbits are going to start showing up around her a LOT and that'll be harassment and she'll sue again...
posted by DU at 11:43 AM on July 26, 2010


In any case, she isn't suing because someone drew a rabbit. She's suing because someone is spreading rumors about her (that happen to be rabbit-related).


Except, they weren't rumors, right? That's some weird lawsuit.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:50 AM on July 26, 2010


In most rational countries, the truth is a legitimate defense for defamation/libel claims.

*looks in the UK's direction*
posted by chimaera at 11:52 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


And he [the school psychologist] gave me a chocolate easter bunny and I ate the bunny, then I thought, hey, this isn't easter. "Is this a test?" And he said, "Yes." "And what does it mean?" He said, "Had you eaten the ears first you would have been normal. Had you eaten the feet first you would have had an inferiority complex. Had you eaten the tail first you would have had latent homosexual tendencies and had you eaten the breasts first you would have had a latent oedipal complex." "Well...go on, what does it mean when you bite out the eyes and scream 'stop staring at me?'"

(/Emo)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:07 PM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is bunnies.
posted by rusty at 12:16 PM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


This post needs a disclaimer "Warning: Possible Triggers"
posted by clarknova at 12:18 PM on July 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:30 PM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


My favorite bunny shirt.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:32 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can sue someone for spreading the truth? Is reality defamation?
posted by umberto at 12:54 PM on July 26, 2010


Do any non-human species have phobias?

Every cat I've ever tested it on was scared crapless of kites. Even just getting them out of the closet was enough to have them cowering under the beds, in some cases. Not really irrational either; lots of cats are lost to birds of prey every year.

I also know a dog once that was terrified, absolutely boneless quaking fear, of hot air balloons. She wouldn't go outside at all when our local hot-air balloon festival happened each spring.
posted by bonehead at 1:02 PM on July 26, 2010


Hey is it OK to make fun of these people?
posted by Mister_A at 1:02 PM on July 26, 2010


Wernog Herzog claims to have a phobia of chickens, hence the weird (no spoilers) finale of Stroszek. He says, “...they are very frightening for me because their stupidity is so flat. You look into the eyes of a chicken and you lose yourself in a completely flat, frightening stupidity. They are like a great metaphor for me… I kind of love chicken, but they frighten me more than any other animal.”
posted by zoomorphic at 1:10 PM on July 26, 2010


Do any non-human species have phobias?

IIRC there was a piglet that was afraid of mud, so the owners gave it tiny wellie boots.
posted by elizardbits at 1:20 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can sue someone for spreading the truth? Is reality defamation?

Well that's why she lost the case when it actually went before the court, they decided that she really does have a rabbit phobia so it's not defamation. The student still had to deal with the hassle of having to defend herself against a completely baseless lawsuit, though.

Except, they weren't rumors, right? That's some weird lawsuit.

And making a big deal out of it signaled to pretty much everyone that it was true, if they didn't already know. If someone spread rumors about a random teacher being afraid of rabbits, they would probably just laugh it off or do something to prove it wasn't true, since it's such a silly and harmless rumor. Also I'm assuming it would have been hard to cover it up if someone at the school was like "So I heard this crazy rumor about you and rabbits?" and she freaked out and ran out of the room.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:20 PM on July 26, 2010


My ex's rabbit used to KICK my dachshund off the couch. They're not all sweet little fluffy babies, I'll have you know. Also, she chased the dachshund around the coffee table once.

awwwww.
Also, you haven't lived until you've seen my parents' guinea pig chase the great dane around the backyard. He's terrified!
posted by mannequito at 1:23 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


How does a person like that operate in normal society?

Same way someone with peach-phobia does.
posted by dobbs at 1:27 PM on July 26, 2010


It's hard to tell what really happened, but one possibility is that the student followed the teacher around telling everyone of this risible phobia, and then intentionally induced a panic attack to prove that she is indeed scared of bunnies. Which would be a cruel form of mobbing.

At any rate it seems this isn't the first time students have made that claim of the teacher. The teacher denies it because it makes her the laughing stock of the school. I feel sorry for her.

The defamation claim doesn't make sense, though. Maybe there's some part of the story we aren't hearing?
posted by Omnomnom at 1:36 PM on July 26, 2010


Do any non-human species have phobias?

dibblda : Vacuum cleaner, meet the dog and cat.

For real. I have to practically drag my vacuum out of the closet when it thinks there might be a cat or a dog around. I think it's afraid that something is going to run off with its cord, the poor thing.

doteatop : Is there anything people can't be terrified of?

I've warned you before, but no one ever listens, so stare into the terrifying abyss that is Nugget! (her full name: Super-Destructo-Atomotron-Nugget-Head of DOOM: Nuggetly Destroyer of Worlds and Demonic Swallower of Souls.)
posted by quin at 1:54 PM on July 26, 2010


Now then, if you know, or have reason to believe, that your actions will harm somebody, then you can be liable for a lawsuit. That means if somebody knows you have a specific phobia of rabbits, and you start drawing rabbits in places where that person will be, and that person is harmed by your actions, then you can be liable for a lawsuit. I don't think that's a defamation suit, but it can be a lawsuit.

The interesting thing about phobias is that they are usually really funny to everybody else, but incapacitatingly terrifying to the people with the phobia. (I think I'm terming "phobia" in the psychological sense, not just as a basic "fear of".)

So, if you like making fun of people because they are in pain (in this case, psychological pain), then by all means, it's okay to laugh at them.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:07 PM on July 26, 2010


^ Which is to say, I laughed, and then felt guilty after, but then laughed some more nonetheless.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:07 PM on July 26, 2010


[this is narn]

No; terror of bunny pictures is narm.

This is Narn.
posted by roystgnr at 2:56 PM on July 26, 2010


Fizz, props for the title of this post.
posted by misha at 2:58 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also cannot fathom this. I've studied psychology and phobias before, but I never thought something like this could cause someone to cry and run away.

Not something like that. Something like THIS.
posted by FatherDagon at 3:01 PM on July 26, 2010


I showed this to my bunny. We both got a laugh out of it.
posted by tommasz at 3:10 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I can let this slide without mentioning Stephen Ra$pa.
posted by poe at 3:28 PM on July 26, 2010


I've warned you before, but no one ever listens, so stare into the terrifying abyss that is Nugget! (her full name: Super-Destructo-Atomotron-Nugget-Head of DOOM: Nuggetly Destroyer of Worlds and Demonic Swallower of Souls.)"

That was seriously adorable. But I was totally worried that something awful was going to happen. Ruined my enjoyment of cute bunny eating parsley. Sad. I think I've been broken by the internet.
posted by This Guy at 3:42 PM on July 26, 2010


Wernog Herzog claims to have a phobia of chickens, hence the weird (no spoilers) finale of Stroszek. He says, “...they are very frightening for me because their stupidity is so flat. You look into the eyes of a chicken and you lose yourself in a completely flat, frightening stupidity. They are like a great metaphor for me… I kind of love chicken, but they frighten me more than any other animal.”
posted by zoomorphic at 4:10 PM on July 26



You know, if Herzog was scared of chickens because he'd encountered game fowl at one point, I could totally see it.

But because he thinks they're stupid? Really?

When I look into a chicken's eyes, I don't see stupid. Calmly calculating my death, perhaps, but not stupid.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:18 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay who did it? Who linked to tvtropes??? Oh I see, it was roystgnr. By the time I made it back I didn't even know where I was coming back to (Metafilter right?).
posted by Danila at 6:39 PM on July 26, 2010


My dad once worked with a woman who was terrified of mayonnaise. People kind of thought it was a joke until someone taped a mayonnaise packet to the back of her shirt at work. When she was told it was there she ran off screaming and about tore her shirt off. So, yeah, people can have some pretty weird phobias.

The really weird part is that she is married to a professional clown and yet it's the mayonnaise that scares her.
posted by jedicus at 7:08 PM on July 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


This.
posted by zerobyproxy at 7:17 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look, bunnies have sharp teeth and they poop everywhere. A fear of rabbits seems downright understandable... when compared to a FEAR OF PICKLES.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:11 PM on July 26, 2010


Kill the wabbit.
posted by stevil at 11:16 PM on July 26, 2010


"leporiphobia" is mixing up Latin and Greek, isn't it? Shouldn't it be something like "lagophobia"?
posted by Phanx at 11:49 PM on July 26, 2010


How do psychologists treat rabbit phobia?

Werry werry carefuwly.

I'm not run-out-of-the-room rabbit phobic but I do not like to pat them. Years of petting cats has left me with the expectation that bones in a cat-sized animal with a soft furry coat will be arranged in a cat-like way. Rabbit bones are not arranged in that way and feeling them in the wrong places makes my skin crawl ever so slightly.
posted by jamaro at 1:03 AM on July 27, 2010


Aw, come on, jamaro. Pat the bunny!
posted by emelenjr at 4:19 AM on July 27, 2010


I think I have a phobia of brussel sprouts.
Although, come to think of it, I probably just don't like the awful stench.
posted by sour cream at 9:30 AM on July 27, 2010


I think I have a phobia of brussel sprouts.

How do you feel about potatoes?
posted by jamaro at 9:45 AM on July 27, 2010


What's the big deal? All you need is a holy hand grenade of Antioch.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:00 AM on July 27, 2010


can't believe I'm the first to mention THAT.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:01 AM on July 27, 2010


I just watched a video of a rabbit eating.
posted by slogger at 11:54 AM on July 27, 2010


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