“The Real Indiana Jones” is a series that explores the man behind the fedora. Indiana Jones is many things to many people in his world, from a friend or enemy, to an esteemed professor or rival treasure hunter. As viewers of Indy’s big screen and television adventures, we have a unique perspective on the life of this hero, whose own weaknesses are often as important as his strengths.
Any discussion about Indiana Jones’ fears must begin with his aversion to snakes. All of us can be stopped in our tracks by seemingly innocuous things. A fear of snakes isn’t entirely irrational, of course, especially if you happen to meet a venomous cobra in an Egyptian tomb. But Indy more easily overcomes equally scary or deadly obstacles (think insects, rats, and so forth). Nothing can stop Indiana Jones – boulders, tanks, hordes of soldiers – but show him a friendly, nonpoisonous snake and he’s a goner.
As we see in the opening of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a teenaged-Indy idly moves a snake aside as if it weren’t a nuisance at all. Only moments later aboard a circus train, he falls into a tub full of the slithering reptiles and is henceforth afflicted with this all-too-human foible (though never used in the series, the clinical term is “ophidiophobia”). Over the course of our lives, we pick up psychological baggage that we each carry in a unique assortment. Indy’s fear of snakes is a poignant, humorous element that stretches back decades to his adolescence. Other fears and insecurities go back even further and motivate the hero in much deeper ways.