Fear of the Dark

Rapid heartbeats, shortness of breath, an overwhelming feeling of dread or sheer terror. Close the closet door. Check under the bed.
Fear of the dark, or 'nyctophobia' in children and 'achluophobia' in adults, as it's called in the medical world, is a psychologically-impacted feeling of being disposed from comfort to a fear-evoking state. In more simpler terms, you're scared shitless!
 
Are you afraid of the dark? Yeah, I've heard it before: "I'm a man, I'm not afraid of the dark". C'mon Superman, admit it: I don't care how tough you are, at some point in our life we've all been afraid of the dark. I'm not a jumpy person and would like to think that I'm brave. But even then, when you're in a creepy ass place where it's the darkest of dark, and you hear a sudden voice in your ear or a earth-shattering "BANG"... you're going to jump. And if you're lucky jumping is all you'll do! Heartbeat's are going to go up and you're automatically gonna go into defensive mode. Just go on... admit it tough guy! It's ok.
 
But have you ever wondered why, even as an adult, we can still have this fear of the dark? Is it instilled in us from an early age or is it instinctive? Is it because of "Halloween", "Friday the 13th", and "Psycho"? Maybe. That definitely has something to do with it, though my guess is a pretty simple one: Unlike cats, we can't see in the dark. We don't know what ugly two-headed monster is there staring back at us. We feel vulnerable and at a clear disadvantage against any unseen force. Maybe it's because we generally associate darkness with evil. After all, dark shadows in the paranormal realm aren't considered your average "Casper the Friendly Ghost".
 
Maybe it's something in the human race, something that goes back thousands of years. Back in the ol' days, we'd run around in a loin cloth in the day hunting, then at night, we'd run from the things that hunted us. Or haunted us. That alone is enough to make us fear the dark. As time went on, religion set in and unfortunately the ridiculous theory of the devil was instilled in us. Demons and the boogeyman came out at night. And now in modern times, look at crime: The majority of violent crime occurs at night: Kidnapping, murder, assault. Is it just that over time we've come to expect bad things to happen at night? Voodoo rituals take place at night. Satanic worshipping is done at night. Ouija boards are usually used at night. Seances, talking to the dead. What is it about night that's just so damn mysterious, and fascinating?
Me... I like the night. I like the darkness. Seems calm and peaceful from my perspective. But I will admit that there's times when I do get "spooked"! Hey, I'm not above admitting it!
 
But let's look into the psychological side of things:
 
In one research, researchers recruited 120 women who were tested, on their own, in a windowless cubicle in one of four conditions - light in daytime, dark in daytime, dark at night-time and dark at night-time. On a computer screen they were shown 100 fear-inducing images, such as an assault in progress, and 50 neutral images, such as household items. They also listened to 100 fear-inducing sounds, such as screams, and 50 neutral sounds, such as a whirring fan. The temperature of the rooms was strictly controlled and responses were measured using physiological data - such as sweating, assessed through a skin conductance test, and heart rate - as well as the women's own reports.
 
The researchers found that there was no difference in the responses to the neutral images and sounds between the day and night. However, the fear-inducing images and sounds made the women more frightened at night than in the day. The women responded to potential threats more effectively at night, while their attention to 'safe' situations remained unchanged.1
 
Another study conducted at Ryerson University Sleep & Depression Lab in Toronto and presented at the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston reports that nearly half of the 93 undergraduate students tested said they were afraid of the dark. These same students also said they were poor sleepers.
 
The study participants consisted of individuals who said they were either good sleepers or poor sleepers. All the students were tested in rooms that were well-lit and those that were dark.
 
When the participants were in well-lit rooms, the investigators presented them with sudden noises and measured their blink responses. Both the good sleepers and poor sleepers responded in a similar way.
 
However, when the participants were placed in dark rooms and presented with sudden noises, the two groups reacted differently In fact, the good sleepers become used to the noises, while the poor sleepers grew increasingly anxious and startled with each noise burst. These findings suggest that people who are poor sleepers may have an untreated phobia fear of the dark.2
 
So what do we take from all this? Just realize that this is a primal instinct and there's ntohing wrong with feeling fear of the dark. There are ways to ovecome it, though. First, you need to be strong and realize that in most situations, there's nothing present in the dark that isn't there in the daytime. Rationalize why you're feeling fear of the dark, and say to yourself that you're not afraid. Take control of your body, mind and soul and conquer this fear. Obviously, on the paranromal side of it all, things can happen in the dark. But even with the possibility of the paranromal creeping around, don't let that fear overtake you. When you allow it to get ahold, it only feeds the negativity.
 
Some say love is the most powerful emotion. Or hate. But I disagree. I believe it's fear... definitely fear.
 
Are you afraid of the dark? Why are we afraid of the dark? How o you handle dealing with this fear?
 
1 Courtesy of Dailymail.co.uk
2 Courtesy ofRyerson University Sleep and Depression Lab, Toronto.
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