The Dread Files – Achluophobia

The Dread Files - The Haunted Pen

Achluophobia is an abnormal fear of darkness. The word is derived from the Greek “Achluo” (to darken) and “Phobos” (dread or deep fear).

Achluophobia is also related to Lygophobia (fear of being in dark places), Myctophobia (fear of darkness), Nyctophobia (fear of the dark or night) and Scotophobia (fear of darkness).

Symptoms of Achluophobia

Preschool children may resort to thumb sucking or bed-wetting because of their fear of darkness or night. They may become clingy and reject the idea of going to sleep without having a nightlight on, or insist upon sleeping with an adult/companion. The phobia may change the sleeping and eating habits of children and adults.

Physical symptoms of the fear of darkness include:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Heart palpitations irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath or rapid shallow breathing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shivering and trembling
  • Chest pains or feeling like choking
  • Nausea and other gastrointestinal distress
  • Aches and pains
  • Crying and screaming
  • Reduction in appetite or overeating/binge eating
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Sleepless nights
  • Disability to perform routine activities
  • Inability to articulate words or sentences and think properly

Psychological symptoms of the fear of darkness include:

  • Thoughts of death, dying
  • Fear of being attacked by ‘boogeymen’, ghosts, and monsters
  • Checking and rechecking under the bed or in closets
  • Refusing to sleep alone
  • Refusing to step out of the house after sunset
  • Trying to stay up all night, waking up several times
  • Feeling dread
  • Feeling like running away at the thought of facing darkness

As with any phobia, these symptoms vary depending on the person’s level of fear.

Causes of Achluophobia

Achluophobia can be normally be traced back to a specific triggering event – generally, a traumatic experience involving darkness the sufferer experienced at an early age. Family members and friends could also be responsible for instilling the phobia.

TV shows, movies and books/comics depicting horror, blood, gore, ghosts and other paranormal activities that take place in the dark can often be responsible for creating a deep-rooted fear of darkness in a child’s mind thinking it may also happen to him or her. Sexual abuse in childhood, domestic violence, car accidents and other devastating or traumatic events can leave a child confused, scared and anxious.

Teenagers and young children react very differently to such events. One of the responses to incidents like these could be a persisting fear of night or darkness when the events might have occurred. Most childhood fears go away as the person grows up and matures. However, in some cases, achluophobia can persist into adulthood. Such people often recall these past events which they associate with the dark.

How to Overcome Achluophobia

Adults suffering from the phobia often realize their fear is irrational, yet feel powerless to overcome it and dread the hours of darkness.

Many therapies can help overcome the phobia. Professional therapists can help get to the bottom of a person’s fear of darkness as can hypnotherapy. Self-help techniques can also be considered, such as the sufferer gradually exposing his or herself to the object of fear and writing down irrational thoughts and changing them to rational ones. Meditation and positive visualization are other recommended self-help methods. The main goal is to understand that the darkness is not dangerous and is not always related to any danger at all.

Medicine can be prescribed, but these medications can also have side effects and/or severe withdrawal systems. It is important to note that medicine does not cure a phobia; they only temporarily suppress the systems, at best.

The Haunted Pen - Achluophobia

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