||It has been suggested that this article be merged into Fear of the dark. (Discuss) Proposed since April 2015.|
Nyctophobia is a phobia characterized by a severe fear of the dark. It is triggered by the brain’s disfigured perception of what would, or could, happen when in a dark environment. It can also be temporarily triggered if the mind is unsteady or scared about recent events or ideas, or a partaking in content the brain considers a threat (examples could include indulging in horror content, witnessing vulgar actions, or having linked dark environments to prior events or ideas that disturb the mind).
Despite its pervasive nature, there has been a lack of etiological research on the subject. Nyctophobia is generally observed in children but, according to J. Adrian Williams’ article titled, "Indirect Hypnotic Therapy of Nyctophobia: A Case Report", many clinics with pediatric patients have a great chance of having adults who have nyctophobia.
The word nyctophobia comes from the Greek νυκτός, nyktos, genitive of νύξ, nyx, "night" and φόβος, phobos, "fear". The fear of darkness or night has several non-clinical terminologies—lygophobia, scotophobia and achluophobia.
Symptoms of nyctophobia include:
- Panic attack
- Shortness of breath
- Accelerated heart rate
- Chest pain
- not wanting to be in/near the dark
A popular and effective treatment for fear of darkness is cognitive-behavioral therapy, specifically systematic desensitization therapy, more commonly known as exposure therapy. This, in combination of medications to treat the worst of the phobia symptoms such as panic attack and migraines, can help someone overcome nyctophobia.
People with phobias need to learn self-help methods to deal with the worst of the symptoms. Getting informed about the phobia is the first step in overcoming the fear. Learning to keep negative thoughts at bay is also helpful. Lastly, practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and muscle relaxation can help one deal with the emotional and physical symptoms of a severe phobia of the dark.
- Mikulas, William L. "Behavioral Bibliotherapy and Games for Treating Fear of the Dark." Child & Family Behavior Therapy 7.3 (1985): 1-7.
- νύξ, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- Kipper, D. A. (1980). "In vivo desensitization of nyctophobia: Two case reports". Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 17 (1), 24.