“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” 
― Plato


That is so true and so sad to know that there are so many of those who are afraid of the light, who have still kept that afraid child within themselves. Their life story is not easy, it can not be spoken without feeling compassion, it can’t be retold without experiencing their pain.


Every kind of fear is evil in its roots. It is like a lucrative snake that abuse the moment of our weakness and turns us into the prey. It plays with us like the mirage in the desert. We are lost at the beginning of the labyrinth and we aren’t able to find the end, the safe way out. If there is anything good about fear is the fact that we feel like we really live, trying to survive, breathing the meaning of existence through the adrenaline. The fear is a curse of the human race but also the sign that we can make it, through all temptations and challenges, to find the shelter, to collect one more day in the book of our life, to chase away the demons of death. Ironically, we learn to love our life through the dimensions of fear.

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There are so many  expressions of fear and some of them slip into the domain of phobias. It is not possible to compare different types of phobias because each of them is the alpha and omega of horror vibes  for the victims. One person  is terrified in dark and another is facing with the panic attack when sees clowns. There are people that have zero fear but it is only because they have not digged enough deep in the mines of their souls, to face their primitive and ancient ghosts of angst. We are all afraid of something and that is acceptable as long as it is in the limited zone, controlled by our common sense and logic patterns. Unfortunately, there are situations when mental strength is broken into the thousand angry pieces that make a puzzle of disaster, that open the gates of hell and our real suffering. The fear must be recognized and addressed on time or it will be fed like a beast from the cave, ready to harvest the innocent.

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Timothy Moore  is now 40 years old. He looks like a young elderly man, with the burden of the whole world. The life he has is a full of shadows and Tim doesnt know how to deal with the parallel universe he is stuck in, since he was a child. The black hole of terror  is always bigger and he is always smaller. Timothy Moore suffers from the severe form of nyctophobia, defined as an extreme fear of night or darkness and the indicator of the serious depression and phases of anxiety. When he was 5-year-old boy, he has faced up with the rise of fear from the darkness and that has never left him. His parents hadn’t been really worried because they believed that all will be gone as the time passes.  Timothy couldn’t have slept and eaten regularly since he was tired from his night fear.  His alphabet of life was somewhere between holding on daylight and trembling because of the coming dark. Tim has known that the boogeyman is just waiting a right second to grab him and drag him into the inferno while his parents are watching the sunday soap opera and laughing.  Brian and Amanda Moore did not deal with Timothy’s phobia and he grew up into the one of those who are afraid of the dark. Timothy Moore is afraid of the light too since he has no courage to fight for light within him, to let the light win and to defeat his childhood’s boogeyman.

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Nevertheless, the nyctophobia is the most  common specific phobias in children. According to studies, almost 90% of children develop this kind of phobia that is usually gone after they get into adolescence. Only rare keep wandering into the darkness, dying milion times from extreme panic and living only one life. It is interesting that science makes difference between fear and phobia, designing phobia as irrational fear that can indicate a severe mental disorders and influences the life in a malign way. For some of the researchers, the fear from darkness is actually the evolutionary code of the humankind:” Nyctophobia has also been associated with the evolution of mankind. In early periods, people used to go for hunting at nighttime and face wild beasts. Darkness has been considered as residence of evil, monsters and paranormal beings. This is the very reason of darkness being the main theme of horror movies and Halloween. Thus, nyctophobia can also be resultant of a learnt behavior that has been given by the human evolution itself.”

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The people  have been always aware of the invisible risks  in the dark night.  During the old times, the animal predators have been lurking on those without protection. In our modern times, the social predators have been also linked with the lack of light and their hunt has been always in the middle of night or at least, in alone places.

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The symptoms of the night fear vary from one individual to another and this determines the level of phobia. The victims of nyctophobia become nervous in any darkened environment and they choose to sleep with a night light. Some are terrified to go out at night or they experience the severe psychological problems that pull the physical struggles: an increased heart rate, sweating, shaking or feeling simply ill. If it is not treated, this kind of phobia can progress into the cancer of the mind, shaping the person like the wild ocean storm is shaping the destiny of the wooden ship.

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There is a hope for people who suffers from this disorder but they must be ready to  be opened for the possibility to be cured. The exposure therapy has shown the good results in the practice as well as the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The first therapy is helping the person to be brave to face up with the darkness and to accept the darkness as the part of the reality, being lead by the  expertise of the psychologist. The CBT is, from my point of view, even better due to the fact that let person deal with the darkness through the steps, performing negative expectations and thoughts into the positive energy and tolerance for the darkness.  In 90% of cases, the phobia is erased. In 10%, the failure of therapy is usually sign that the person has been waiting for so long and has been annihilated by darkness itself. The last stand is then the anti depression medication but it doesn’t chase out the shadows, it only keeps them in one corner.

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Timothy Moore has never thought about being a victim of his own choice. As a successful lawyer, he manages to provoke the justice and its cracks. In his own small universe of fear, Tim is just a 5-year-old boy frozen in time, forgotten from all, like a caricature of human being that has never been born. His secrets belong only to him like the darkness he created himself. Nobody knows that Timothy Moore is dying every night to be born again in the morning and so on, for last 35 years. When he comes into the court, he is shining the fake light but all he has is just a fear bigger than his life.  This man has never defeated his own boogeyman but he is not the only one. If you are one of them, I want that you know that you aren’t alone in the darkness. I am with you. Just say something. Talk to me. One whisper can kill that scary boogeyman, you just need to trust me.

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  1. Thank you Sarah for this educational article ! I’m always learning something new from you !

    Nyctophobia and many of the psychological problems are rooted in people’s childhood ! Fears and problems that were not resolved during the person’s childhood get carried along into adulthood. The result is that the fears get amplified over the years, as the person starts anticipating the anxiety associated with the psychological problem !

    As you stated in your article, Sarah, therapy at the early stages is a good idea in order to help the person overcome his/her fears. I would like to add my personal opinion which is the fact that some parents don’t spend enough time with their kids and don’t comfort them when they need it the most !

    What an excellent article, Sarah ! As for the illustrations, you always pick the best ones !


  2. Sarah’s relative and informative article brought to mind the presidential inauguration speech of Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1933: ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’

    Does nyctophobia have more significance than say chrematophobia (i.e. fear of money)? Fear is only relative to the individual himself/herself: millions across the world fear their respective governments and elite rulers, for example. Is this a sort of metaphorical darkness of the world of humans (i.e. a world without universal trust, compassion and unconditional co-operation)?

    The Universe as we know it is predominantly dark, but we acknowledge and praise the natural beauty of this darkness. For centuries, black African people were associated with ‘evil’ and negative aspects of life on Earth simply because of the colour of their skin. Yet, it is fact that light and dark complement one another and that there can be no life on Earth without darkness or light.

    An individual will interpret life as she/he she wishes to, or has been made to do so. The challenge is to confront our fears and try to overcome them…


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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !