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What is Achluophobia?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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Achluophobia is the fear of darkness. This phobia is known by a variety of other names, including nyctophobia and scotophobia, and it is pervasive in both children and adults. Some people find coping techniques for their achluophobia, finding a way to live with it, while others actively seek treatment. There are an assortment of treatment options available to people who suffer from this condition.

There are a number of reasons why achluophobia can develop. Sometimes it emerges in response to a specific event or trauma, with the patient fearing a repeat of the event. In other cases, it seems to appear spontaneously, reflecting a subconscious fear which has become more pronounced. People who fear darkness may insist on sleeping with a nightlight, and they often refuse to walk around at night, or express fear when they move through a darkened house or room.

Sweating, increased heart rate, nausea, high blood pressure, intense fear, confusion, and a variety of other physical symptoms can accompany a fear of the dark. Someone with achluophobia may also develop more severe symptoms if he or she is mocked, developing anxiety about the phobia in addition to anxieties about the darkness which increases emotional stress. Additional phobias may also develop; for example, a child who is told not to be afraid of the dark might also start fearing monsters under the bed or in the closet.

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Treatment approaches to achluophobia vary, depending on the specific case and the age of the patient. Cognitive therapy which includes discussions about the origins of the phobia is common, and some therapists also like to use hypnosis, art therapy, and other techniques to access the subconscious. Some therapists also encourage the use of desensitization, in which the patient is exposed to darkened environments with the therapist present to provide support. Over time, the length of exposure can be increased. Medications such as anti-anxiety drugs may also be used to manage the physiological symptoms.

An important thing to be aware of with achluophobia is that the fear of the dark is very real, and it is a valid psychological condition. People should not be ashamed for feeling nervous or frightened in the dark, and it is a good idea to seek help early, before the symptoms become more severe. Supportive friends and family are also critical for patients, and people should refrain from teasing patients who experience a fear of the dark.

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anon996614
Post 6

I was afraid of the dark but I never seemed to realize why!

The reason why was because of this dumb porcelain doll that looked really creepy in the dark so this site was actually very helpful for me!

anon312750
Post 5

I have achluophobia and it's horrible, I can't even get out of bed at night if I need the toilet. I think that there's something under my bed and I can't get out. It's just horrible.

Perdido
Post 4

To all you people out there who share this common phobia with me, I have a suggestion for what to do when your electricity goes out at night and you can’t sleep. I figured this one out while looking at floating candles in a store.

As we all know, it’s unsafe to go to sleep with candles burning. However, if those candles are floating in a bowl of water, you can leave them burning until they can burn no longer.

You can use either floating candles or tealights. I use tealights because they are super cheap and come in a bag of one hundred. I fill a glass bowl a little more than halfway with water. I place

the tealights on top of the water and light them.

Generally, they only burn for about three hours before they run out of wick, but chances are, you won’t know when they go out, because you will be asleep. If you do awaken, you can just light some fresh ones.

OeKc05
Post 3

My therapist put me through desensitization, and it was so hard at first. We went through several sessions where we just talked about my fear, so I had time to learn to trust him.

The very first time he exposed me to total darkness, he kept the lights off for just one full minute while talking me through it. My heart was racing, and I felt a panic attack coming on, but I focused on his voice and his words, and I got through it.

The next time, he left the lights off for five minutes. I think once I got through the first minute of panic, it got easier. Toward the end of my therapy, we were talking in the dark for fifteen minutes, and I wasn’t scared at all.

orangey03
Post 2

I am a foster parent, and I have cared for many children throughout the years. During this time, I have noticed that the fear of the dark is a big source of anxiety in children. I have never met a child who didn’t have this phobia.

Kids at a young age still believe in the possibility of monsters. They have to be able to see everything in their room in order to convince themselves they are safe.

I always supply my children with a blue nightlight. Blue is a calming color, and it helps them get to sleep while providing enough light to ease their minds.

kylee07drg
Post 1

I have had achluophobia all my life, and I think that it is a totally rational fear. When it’s dark, anyone or anything can creep up on you and take you by surprise.

In horror movies and crime shows, the killer often cuts the power, so the house is totally dark. If he manages to find the person he wants to kill in the dark, he has the advantage, because they are taken off guard and preoccupied with fear.

Every time the electricity goes out at my house, I wonder if someone intentionally cut it off to come after me. I have supplies of candles and lighters on hand in every room, and I get to them very quickly.

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