The fear of the dark is one of the universal fears of humanity. We all were afraid of the dark when we were little children. Some people overcame this fear so early that they can’t even remember ever being afraid of it – some adults are afraid of the dark until old age.
There’s actually a psychological term for being afraid of the dark: nyctophobia. And there is a treatment for nyctophobia too – it involves using the power of your subconscious mind:
In a way being scared of darkness is not an unreasonable fear: when we lived out in the wilderness, tens of thousands of years ago, it was a lot more dangerous to be out in the forest at night than it was during the daytime. Our vision works much better at daylight, and we’re better able to detect threats and defend ourselves against attackers when we can see clearly.
But in modern life there is not much reason to be afraid of the dark. Many people are scared even in their own room when its dark, and thus need a light to sleep in their own bed. Some people don’t go to see a movie in a theater because they’re too scared of the moment when the lights get dimmed down.
There are different ways to treat nyctophobia. In serious cases some people use anti-anxiety medication. The problem with that is that they can be addictive and often come with serious side effects, because many of them reduce overall brain activity (especially benzodiazepines): feeling groggy or lethargic, feeling dizzy, forgetfulness, mental confusion, local and temporal disorientation, depression, slowed down reflexes, clumsiness and impaired thinking.
The field of neurolinguistic programming (NLP) has come up with a method to deal with phobias. While this is mostly helpful for cases such as spider phobias, it might also sometimes help for people who are scared of the dark.
Hypnosis to overcome the fear of the dark is particularly effective because it can retrain your brain to react differently to the darkness. Instead of fear, you can accept it as a natural phenomenon and evaluate the situation rationally and sensible while remaining calm.
I remember a specific event in my life that helped me to overcome my fear of the dark. When I was a kid I once woke up in the night. It was pretty dark, but the streetlights illuminated the room a bit so that I could make out the shapes of silloutes. Theres was the bookshelf, there was the warderobe with the large mirror, there was the desk, and… there were the legs of a man sitting on the chair, motionless!
A thief? A murderer? I didn’t know, but I was scared as hell. I pretend to still be asleep. Not moving, with my eyes open just so much that I could see him, but not so much that he could see my eyes were open and I was watching him.
As time passed by, and it seemed like hours during which my heart beat loudly in my chest, slowly daylight brightened up the sky and crept through the window into my room. And the more light there was, the more I noticed a strange quality about the motionless man – until I finally realized that it was just a pair of empty pants being laid on the chair in a manner that made it look like a man was sitting there. There wasn’t of course.
But all these hours of agonizing in my bed, thinking up scenarios what I would do if he tried to kill me, if he had a knive, a gun, wondering why he just sat there, conjuring up stories in my mind about what it was about this man… as much as it was a dreadful experience, it also made it an intense learning experience, which left a memorable impression on my mind: in the dark things seem scarier than they really are.
Are you afraid of the dark? If so, just have a look at this nyctophobia cure: