Mice infestations cause mouse phobia sufferers a range of emotions
London psychologist explains 6 ways mice affect human behaviour
SUPERPROOF mouse behaviour experts share view
Fast mouse proofing service that gets rid of mice with a certified guarantee for 6 months
They have been known to make a grown man cry, and both men and women to abandon their homes. They make otherwise sensible and peace-loving people lash out with extreme violence, and fill others with shame, fearing neighbours and friends will hate them for ever.
Yes, the humble house mouse has a lot of answer for.
The tiny rodent, weighing in at 20g, or five sugar cubes, has evolved to live with us humans, yet it is an animal that many people fear, loath, and are shamed by in equal measure.
The question is, why? Mice have obviously got used to living with us. Why cannot we learn to live cheek by jowl, or possible cheek by shoe sole, with mice?
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SUPERPROOF is the UK’s leading mouse proofing service. We believe we understand mouse behaviour better than any other pest control company.
But human behaviour is a bit different. That is why we have asked London-based psychologist Doctor Rina Bajaj to give us her expert analysis of the human response to the mouse.
Dr Bajaj has helped us identify 6 ways mice can seriously affect human behaviour. So much so that just the thought of a mouse, let alone the sight of one, can generate an extreme reaction well beyond our rational control.
Embarrassment and shame
Our technicians regularly help customers who are clearly ashamed that they have mice in the house. Even though mice like to live in clean homes. It is why we are happy to comply with requests to park our mouse proofing vans around the corner, out of sight. People just do not want their neighbours to know they have a mouse control problem.
Dr Bajaj says: “Secrecy may be linked to the notion of embarrassment. As human’s we all feel a need to protect the self-image, or the mask that we show the world. Having mice, or a SUPERPROOF parked outside, may threaten an individual’s self-image, and potentially affect the individual’s social standing.
“Embarrassment is amplified by our relationships with others. SUPERPROOF customers may feel this way because they don’t want to feel they have failed, or to be perceived as dirty, or not to be financially able. This creates a social stigma around having mice in your house.”
Dr Bajaj says there are a number of reasons why us humans, when faced with a mouse control problem, struggle to avoid a sense of shame:
Humans have invested in their social image and its status. Therefore, when they discover of mice in their home, they seek to protect that investment.
SUPERPROOF customers may know they are not to blame for having a mouse infestation, but they still worry about the judgement of others.
Fear of exposure creates a sense of social shame. Social media is making this worse, both for domestic and commercial customers.
Humans tend to create a stature. We tend to seek to present ourselves in our best light. This explains why SUPERPROOF technicians are asked to park away from a property, or not wear the branded uniforms.
Loss of Control
SUPERPROOF customers often get very anxious about the fact that they cannot stop mice getting into their homes. It is a situation they cannot control. They feel they are powerless to prevent mice wandering around at will, and are especially frustrated when they find that conventional pest control methods, including mouse poison and mice traps, do not work.
Dr Bajaj says: “It is natural to feel threatened by something out of our own control. Having mice in the house puts us into a state of flux, living with the unknown. Losing control means that our view of the world is challenged.”
Many SUPERPROOF customers admit to being mouse phobic, and we are very respectful of their concerns and needs when we attend to remove mice. The condition is called suriphobia, from souris (French for mouse), or musophobia (derived from the Greek word for mouse), and murophobia (from the taxonomic name for mice and rats).
Dr Bajaj says: “Phobias are commonly linked with primitive responses and our ancestors’ need to survive. Going back thousands of years, we have had to fight disease. Mice can breed disease, so this is why our bodies may still respond to them in an anxious or scared way.
“When someone has a phobia, they are usually hypervigilant, meaning that they are more aware of their surroundings and any potential threats. For example, you may be more aware of noises, and have an uncontrollable physical response, such as shaking or not being able to breathe properly.
“Just thinking about the thing that causes a phobia can be unbearable. So, individuals may just move home to escape the space associated with it. They may even avoid pest control companies, because they do not want to be associated with anything linked with mice, even with a service offering help.”
Fight or flight
Humans have evolved to react in two basic ways to perceived threats – fight or flight. They respond with violence, or they run away.
It is true to say some people, especially in large cities, like London, have learned to put up with mice, as long as they do not get too uppity. But many others just cannot stand the idea. They feel threatened, or they fear the uncertainty created by having another creature sharing their space.
Dr Bajaj says: “Our ancestors have built in a fight or flight system that helps humans to deal with fears related to the unknown to survival.
“When this system is triggered, we can ‘fight’ – seeking to challenge the threat. We can be so fearful that we ‘freeze’ – standing on a chair is one example of this. Or we can take ‘flight’. We can, literally, run away from the threat.”
Mice and rats carry diseases. They really can make you ill. This is why finding mice in the house can trigger hygiene fears, a compulsion to clean, and a range of other OCD responses.
Dr Bajaj says: “OCD is a common mental health concern. In its simplest form, individuals experience unwanted thoughts or behaviours, which can impact upon their quality of life. For example, they may have a fear of contamination from germs and disease. Therefore, mice would pose a serious threat. People can develop rituals to help them feel more in control. In relation to pest control, they may respond with repetitive behaviours to cope with the infestation, such as frequent checking of rooms.”
We have discussed some of the more emotional and psychologically-irrational responses to mice problems. However, there are many people who respond quite rationally to finding they have a mouse infestation. No dramas, let us just get this thing sorted!
Dr Bajaj says: “We all have different ways of coping with challenges. Some people may take a more problem-focussed, rather than emotive, response. They want to solve the problem rather than dwell on the emotional response it can provoke. In this way, they are able to keep the process of dealing with mice more objective and goal-focussed.
“As long as the solution selected is the correct one, this can often lead to problems being solved more speedily and with reduced potential for anxiety. The good thing is that we can all learn to change our responses to events, making them more objective. But only when we have understood the more irrational triggers to our behaviour. And, where necessary, developed ways to control them.”
Mice play mind games – says SUPERPROOF expert
Dr Bajaj’s analysis definitely rings true for SUPERPROOF mouse proofing experts. A SUPERPROOF mouse-proofing specialist says the psychological impact of mice definitely outweighs the physical one.
A SUPERPROOF specialist says: “When you take a call from a successful and powerful business executive who is standing on a chair in a bathroom, refusing to move, because he has seen a mouse, you know mice can play serious mind games.
“However, a lot of the stress is created by the failure of conventional mouse control measures to deal with the issue. Mice infestations cannot be cleared with traditional baiting and trapping.
“Mice have evolved to get around our clumsy attempts to kill them. That’s why, when we go in and mouse proof a property, so that mice can’t get in, the psychological effect is enormous. Often, many years of worry come to an end. People experience a huge sense of relief and delight. It’s one of the really good things about our work, that we can bring, literally, joy to people’s lives.”
Do mice play mind games with you too?
SUPERPROOF offers a fast, discreet and efficient mouse proofing service, and gives a certified guarantee that mice will be gone for at least 6 months.
Our mouse proofing technicians are trained and experienced in helping people with mouse phobias.
Dr Rina Bajaj Cpsychol, is a chartered psychologist based in London. Dr Bajaj is a member of the British Psychological Society and a registered practitioner psychologist with the Health Professionals Council.
Dr Bajaj can be contacted on www.rinabajaj.com, and on Instagram, @dr.rina.bajaj