If you have a sense of foreboding when you consider entering the woods at night you are not alone. It is common to find individuals who find the idea less than desirable. However, when the fear becomes debilitating you may be experiencing Nyctohylophobia.
Literature is filled with stories of bad things that happen in the woods at night. In the Movie “Prince Caspian” a small troop of soldiers struggled with going in to a darkened forest. Even their horses seemed to balk at the idea. This element of film making is nothing new.
What Causes Nyctohylophobia?
This fear can be best described as a learned phobia. We learn to fear forests because of movies that generally involve some marauding killer or wild animal that stalks victims. The forests may also be considered a place where evil lurks and death awaits.
We can also learn this fear when playing as children and discovering there are far too many hiding places and too many opportunities for playmates to jump out and frighten us from behind the trees that seem to close in on us.
A forest at night can feel oppressive, as if the trees are obliterating the moon and stars. It can feel as if you are trapped and have no reasonable chance at escape.
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Even if we are introduced to the fear by a family member or friend the fear can grow through the books we read and the movies we watch. On the other hand a fear introduced through media can expand through observing someone else who has that fear.
Symptoms of Nyctohylophobia
This fear will obviously find the one who fears unwilling to enter a darkened forest either during the day or at night. They may gaze wide-eyed at the forest and either flee or work hard to resist that urge.
Other symptoms include…
- Air hunger
- Elevated or irregular heartbeat
- High anxiety
- Irrational behavior
While general caution is always advised in new settings it is the fear of darkened forests that can be the cause of irrational behaviors that tend to expose the phobia to others.
How to Overcome Nyctohylophobia
If you have this fear then you understand the profound dread that can come over you when you even contemplate existing in a world where your fear is present. Yet this is the place many therapists need to take you in order for you to see there is far less to fear than you imagined.
In most cases the therapist will want to discover the root cause of your fear and then work to help you understand the fear is irrational and unwarranted.
We often fear the things we least understand. Once someone who has had a fear of computers learns to use them the fear generally goes away. If you learn what natural forces are found in the woods at night you can be more confident in enjoying your surroundings. This will likely require the help of a therapist and support of family and friends. You can conquer almost any fear if you are willing to face it. This will always be the toughest decision to make.