- Fear of the dark
For other uses, see Fear of the dark (disambiguation).
The fear of the dark is a common fear among children and to a varying degree is observed for adults. Fear of the dark is usually not fear of the darkness itself, but fear of possible or imagined dangers concealed by the darkness. Some degree of fear of the dark is natural, especially as a phase of child development. Most observers report that fear of the dark seldom appears before the age of 2 years. When fear of the dark reaches a degree that is severe enough to be considered pathological, it is sometimes called nyctophobia (from Greek νυξ, "night" and φοβια, phobia), scotophobia, from σκότος - "darkness", or lygophobia, from λυγή - "twilight" and achluophobia.
Some researchers, beginning with Sigmund Freud, consider the fear of the dark as a manifestation of separation anxiety disorder.
An alternate theory was posited in the 1960s, when scientists conducted experiments in a search for molecules responsible for memory. In one experiment, rats, normally nocturnal animals, were conditioned to fear the dark and a substance called "scotophobin" was supposedly extracted from the rats' brains; this substance was claimed to be responsible for remembering this fear. Subsequently these findings were debunked.
- ^ William Lyons (1985) "Emotion", ISBN 0521316391 p. 75
- ^ Adele Pillitteri (2006) "Maternal and Child Health Nursing", ISBN 0781777763
- ^ Arthur T Jersild (2007) "Children's Fears", ISBN 1406758272, p. 173
- ^ Sigmund Freud, Introduction to Psychoanalysis.
- "I once heard a child who was afraid of the darkness call out: 'Auntie, talk to me, I'm frightened.' 'But what good will that do? You can't see me;' to which the child replied: 'If someone talks, it gets lighter.' "
- ^ Louis Neal Irwin (2006) "Scotophobin: Darkness at the Dawn of the Search for Memory Molecules", ISBN 0761835806
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