Fear of the dark – acuophobia or nyctophobia, medical journal of health


The Afraid of the dark (or aclophobia) is a feeling of anxiety or strong discomfort, that a person perceives when they are in dark environments is.
Also as "Nictophobie" As is well known, this phobic disorder is fairly common in children, while it is less common in adults.

Usually aclophobia is not the fear of Darkness itself, but a fear of the dangers (real or imaginary) that could remain hidden in the dark. Phobic disorders are therefore triggered by the distorted perception of the brain compared to what could happen in a dark environment. The fear of the dark can manifest itself temporarily, even if the subject is experiencing events, negative thoughts or Ideas that are seen as a threat (e.g. aggression, theft, separation, etc.).
The phobia of darkness includes physiological-somatic Symptoms (such as increased heartbeat, breathing and sweating) and psychological (Fear, paranoia, panic and distress).
Often, this phobic disorder is a temporary phenomenon designed to disappear spontaneously. If the fear of the dark is extreme, to the point of unleashing intense panic attacks or handling a profound discomfort normal everyday life activities, it might be useful to overcome a psychotherapy course or behavioral oriented phobia.

Fear of darkness is a feeling of discomfort associated with darkness and the possible dangers it could hide.

A certain amount of fear of the dark is natural and can be considered normal, especially during the child’s developmental phase. However, if fear causes fear or panic attacks and becomes so serious that it is considered pathological, it is a real phobia.


The fear of darkness is basically a form of fear that manifests itself when the subject is one potential or imaginary danger without being in control of what happens.
This disorder is rarely seen in children younger than 2 years.
The fear of the dark can be triggered in three ways:

  • Watching and listening to other children’s fears in childhood;
  • After a traumatic experience in the present (such as aggression, the loss of a family member, witnessing vulgar or particularly violent actions, etc.) or in the past;
  • Associate a physical sensation – in this case fear – with a nearby object (process is also called "anchor" designated).

Some researchers, starting with Sigmund Freud, consider fear of the dark as a manifestation of the Separation anxiety disorder. On the other hand, this phobia usually occurs in childhood, just in the time when children learn to detach themselves and be independent of their parents, and set out to find autonomy.

In adults, the sound barrier can depend on several causes, such as:

  • A form of dysfunctional attachment to parents during childhood (for example, excessive behavior prevents that the child measures itself with tests in height and creates uncertainty);
  • Traumatic episodes that occurred during growth;
  • Difficulty or inability of the person to recognize himself and the world around him;
  • Fears for situations that you cannot control.

The fear of the dark is mainly associated with these sensations, but the triggers can be different and occur in stressful or particularly difficult phases.

Symptoms and complications

The person suffering from akluophobia manifests an untenable fear, under conditions of ambiguity or even with the simple thought of this situation. In the case of fear of the dark, this feeling means that it is impossible to sleep with the light and the fear of being alone. In this special psychological state, darkness hides people and familiar objects from view.
A strong fear of darkness creates psychological and / or physiological-somatic symptoms such as:

  • Excessive sweating;
  • Nausea;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Feeling faint;
  • Increase in respiratory rate;
  • Inability to speak or think clearly;
  • Feeling of detachment from reality;
  • Fear, paranoia and fear of dying.

Stopping fear, phobic people are implementing avoidance strategies, that is, not trying to expose themselves to the dark, delaying time, going to bed and / or following a ritual (checking that the doors are closed there there is nobody under the bed and so on). About that out the nyctophobic can look for the comforting presence of a family member, with serious restrictions on their activities.
The fear of the dark is often associated with sleep disorders: those who suffer from this phobia are more likely to perceive and anticipate external sounds that would prevent sleep.

In children, the fear of the dark triggers desperate cries, nightmares and insomnia. In adulthood, obscurity typically triggers compulsive and irrational thoughts associated with an uncontrollable emotional discharge.


In many cases, sound phobia is a temporary phenomenon that is designed to disappear spontaneously.
However, if it takes several months, the fear of darkness can with the Support from a psychologist. He can help the subject understand the reasons for his phobia and will point out the remedies or the most appropriate therapeutic route.


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