Children often fear darkness. To them, it is a place filled with imaginary monsters and all manner of threats to their safety. However, fear of the dark is not only for the young.
Reasons For Fear Of The Dark
The fear of the dark is known as Achluphobia. The darkness in known to represent mystery, danger, and a sense of unease. The tribal African poets have a saying, “In darkness, the stone becomes the buffalo. In daylight, all is at it is.”
This verse goes a long way towards explaining just why darkness is feared. Thing seem to lurk in the blackness, taking on different shapes and inspiring terror in the human imagination. Horror films and poetry rely on images of night and inky locales to create resonant imagery.
In Lord Byron’s legendary love poem, written for a beautiful cousin, he interprets the unique quality of her beauty in a haunting way.
“She walk in beauty, like the night
of cloudless climes and starry skies…”
The was no fear of the dark here, only a sense of wonder at its mysteries and its beauty. For some, night and blackness are a soothing balm. For those who suffer from Achluphobia, night brings out the very darkness in their souls.
In fact, times of bleak depression are often described as “dark nights of the soul”. This phrase is meant to indicate moments when all the problems and anxieties of life come together and people are left powerless and terrified.
Generally, these moments pass as daylight comes, in a metaphorical sense, and perspective is restored. Few people manage to go through life devoid of such moments of quiet despair.
As you can see, fear of the dark is exacerbated by the popular imagery in poetry, and in films.
Children who fear the dark may be subject to night terrors and outbursts around bedtime. They may require therapy with child psychologists, as well as other aids such as night lights and lamps.
In Gone With The Wind, Scarlett and Rhett’s high-spirited daughter, Bonnie, suffers from an intense fear of the dark. Rhett needs to stay with her and hold her in order to soothe her fears about “monsters” that will come if she is alone in the dark. In this novel, Bonnie’s fear of darkness may be a foreshadowing of her death, which comes after a riding accident.
People who fear the dark may have bad or painful memories that are triggered when there is no light. When all is dark, other senses are heightened. It can be more difficult to blot out difficult memories and past pain. In daylight, it’s easier to ignore things that are unpleasant.
The symptoms of Achluphobia may include nausea, lightheadedness, terror, a feeling of being trapped, and other, classic panic attack symptoms. In some cases, therapy will be essential to getting over the fear of the dark and moving on.
If childhood trauma is associated with this phobia, a qualified therapist can get at the root of fears and allow the person some release. As well, other, alternative therapies, such as cognitive re-mapping, which retrains the brain to see things differently, as other stress-relieving therapies such as acupuncture or vitamin treatments.
In certain cases, anti-depressants can provide a better sense of well-being that will go a long way towards lessening physical and emotional symptoms in the afflicted.