Nyctophobia is an overwhelming fear of the dark. Nyctophobia (from Greek νυξ nic-to-pho-bi-a: "night" and phobia, also called scotophobia, from σκότος - "darkness", lygophobia, from lyge - "twilight", or achluophobia or noctiphobia) is a pathological fear of the dark. Its symptoms include breathlessness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, feeling sick, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly or sensation of detachment from reality and death. Normally, since humans are not nocturnal by nature, humans are usually a bit more cautious or alert than in the day, since the dark is a vastly different environment. Nyctophobia produces symptoms beyond the normal instinctive parameters. (Source: http://allthephobias.blogspot.com/2007/06/nyctophobia)
Nycophobics imagine what might be lurking in the dark and darkness is used in scary movies for effect.
I watched a TV programme in which a Clinical psychologist used Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)to slowly make the phobic face her fears. First, he gave her a diving mask blacked out with duct tape to wear for a few minutes. The next step was to stay in a dark room equipped with a night vision lens so that the doctor ould watch her reactions. The doorframe was also sealed with tape. The girl said she felt as if she was "in a washing machine on the spin cycle watching 20 emotional movies one after each other – very emotionally drained". Finally, she had to spend a night in the woods alone in a tent, switching off various torches and lights gradually to achieve total darkness.
I found the therapy somewhat drastic and even questioned the reasoning, particularly behind asking someone to spend a night in total darkness.
Hypnosis also treats fears and phobias but in a gentle way, using deep relaxation of body and mind then desensitising the person to the cause of the fear. Within one session, a mind-controlling fear can be a thing of the past.
You can treat yourself for fear of the dark with a hypnosis MP3 download here.
© Antonia Stuart-James 2007. Antonia Stuart-James is an English Hypnotherapist in Belgium helping people to make positive change.