Fear of the dark: how to explain nyctophobia in adulthood?  |  TF1 INFO

Fear of the dark: how to explain nyctophobia in adulthood? | TF1 INFO

The fear of the dark is closely linked to the children’s world and continues to haunt some adults.
Being afraid of the dark at some point in your life is normal, especially after a traumatic event.
If this fear persists and interferes with daily life, it turns into a phobia.

Do you suffer from nyctophobia? This irrational fear of the dark is not to be confused with the simple fear of the dark. Clinical psychologist Béatrice Copper-Royer, author of the book Fear of the wolf, fear of everything, explain that”the fear of the dark dates back to the beginning of time“. As early as the 18th century, Buffon wrote in his Natural history : “This is where fear comes from and the kind of inner fear that darkness and night make almost all men feel.“. According to the anthropologist Jacques Galinier in the magazine It interests me, it also turns out to be universal. In all deeply studied cultures, night represents danger.

Fear of the dark, inevitable in young children

Fear of the dark is common in children between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four months and ends around the age of six. It is part of the psychomotor development of the young individual. You don’t have to worry if your child tends to fall asleep with the night light on.

And stories don’t reassure anything. In the collective imagination, monsters, witches and other ambassadors of evil arrive at night.

By hindering vision and sense of direction, darkness causes worry. It worsens hearing and amplifies sounds (footsteps, wind, etc.). The children imagine a lot of things on the lookout. More generally, darkness remains linked to darkness and death.

Why are we as adults afraid of the dark?

Being wary in the dark is normal, regardless of your age. It’s about the survival instinct. However, the concerns fade over the years. Little by little, children no longer have to keep the light on to fall asleep peacefully.

Some adults do not progress beyond this stage. If you remain so afraid of the dark that you fear the darkness of cinemas or theaters, it is best to seek advice. For Nicolas Neveux, a psychiatrist in Paris, this irrational fear has its origins in childhood memories, from too much fear or corresponds to the occurrence of a traumatic event.

Feelings of vulnerability, fear of the unexpected, fear of abandonment due to loss, breakup or bereavement… all reasons that explain the fear of the dark and may require treatment.

A simple phobia that needs to be treated in adulthood

As clinical psychologist Abdelkader Mokeddem points out on the Doctissimo website, adults with a phobia of darkness and obscurity do not dare to talk about it because they are ashamed. However, nyctophobia remains an easily curable phobia, even if you have suffered from it for twenty years. It can be treated with the help of cognitive therapy, which consists of objectifying irrational thoughts, and with behavioral therapy, the role of which is to gradually expose the individual to his fear.


Emilie CARTIER for TF1 INFO

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