Encountering Nyctophobia (Fear Of Darkness)

Nyctophobia (from Greek νυξ, “night” and φοβια, phobia), is the name for the fear of darkness.

Fear of the dark isn’t really the fear of darkness itself, it is the dark space where vision is down that makes someone feel insecure; the fear of imagined perceptions of what relates to darkness. Ghosts for example.

This phobia typically happens to children in the age between 5 to 12, which is sometimes considered as a natural phase for them, however it may happen to adults too.

In Sigmund Freud’s Introduction to Psychoanalysis, “I once heard a child who was afraid of the darkness call out: ‘Auntie, talk to me, I’m frightened.’ ‘But what good will that do? You can’t see me;’ to which the child replied: ‘If someone talks, it gets lighter.’ ”

I’ve grown up being afraid of the dark, I still do now, but the fear isn’t as powerful as it was when I was younger, these are my believed causes for nyctophobia:

  1. Insecurity
  2. Darkness Association
  3. Partially-Blinded Vision
  1. Insecurity remains to be the main cause because inside a dark area, you cannot be as certain as what is happening in the world as what it should be during the day.
  2. From our advanced world, we learn that there are unexplainable supernatural instances such as ghosts, phantoms and spirits, which are directly related to darkness, in our minds, darkness = evilness, danger, death.
  3. Being blinded by the lack of light, people fear that it isn’t safe to be surrounded by dark space because one cannot see what is clearly happening, therefore feeling insecure, considering #1 – insecurity.

However, these three causes are all imaginary results of our psychological activity in viewing things by our vision and feelings, which can be effectively cleansed with imaginary support, in the same way the fear was created.

To eliminate this fear is really just problem-solving, you find the weakness and cause of this fear, exploit it and turn it the other way around.

It should be understood that #2 and #3 are the branches of #1, which means darkness association and partially-blinded vision are created due to the result of #1 – insecurity.

In the past year, I have discovered this cause and found several effective psychological techniques into feeling more secure, which helps eliminating the fear of darkness.

Bodybuilding. Increasing your physical strength will give you the feeling of security and power, hence, feeling more safe.

Make noise. I’ve done this since very young and it works. Darkness is the brother of silence, turn silence around and it’ll feel bright. Try whistling, singing, or just run.

Religious beliefs. As general as it might sound, religious beliefs are one of the most powerful psychological devices that can give someone unimaginable mental strength and power, if harnessed properly.

Self-affirmation. Believe the fact that darkness is the same as brightness, which happens naturally, and nothing negative would happen, if it would, why didn’t it happen in the day? If it could, why had it never happened?

Although these four solutions are temporary remedies to nyctophobia, one day you’ve still got to go for a permanent fix. Here’s mine, it uses reverse psychology:

The aim is to challenge yourself. During the day, make the goal of walking around the house at night without switching on any lights. At first, it must be difficult, you may find yourself walking five to ten steps (try slow & little steps) and rushing to turn the lights on.

Every time you decide to turn on the lights, you fail. Do not retry, go for another shot the next night, and develop a little more challenging goal.

Treat fear as a part of life, it is always good to have a dramatic life!