Fear of darkness (Achluophobia) treatment

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Fear of darkness, Achluophobia

Fears are emotions triggered by your subconscious mind in order to protect you from danger. the subconscious mind was designed for survival as a basic priority and that's why it makes you afraid sometimes but The problem arises when that fear becomes irrational in such a way that its triggered where its not needed.

Fear of darkness or Achluophobia is an irrational fear of darkness, the person suffering from Achluophobia usually thinks that monsters or other evil things will harm him as soon as he stays in a dark place. The Achluophobia may impact his life to an extent that he may not sleep until the lights are turned on.(he may also switch on the television in addition to lights) .

What causes fear of darkness (Achluophobia)

Usually phobias happen when the person experiences an emotional trauma associated with the feared situation. For example in case someone freighted you while you were in a dark place when you were a child then you may develop Achluophobia.

Things however can be much more complex than that. A person can fear darkness because of thinking that the world is unsafe and as a result his imagination fueled by the media could make him believe strongly in ghosts. This is very common among spoiled children who were raised by overprotective parents. See Why do pampered children usually fear ghosts.

The belief in ghosts itself can stem from many different reasons. A person's religious beliefs for example can make him more likely to believe in the existence of ghosts. In such a case a person might even fear ghosts just because his subconscious mind wants to help him strengthen his religious beliefs.

Fear of darkness can also be linked to fear of uncertainty. If a person is a control freak than any kind of loss of control might give him unpleasant feelings and certainly closing his eyes or being in a dark place can reduce the feelings of control greatly for that person. See also The fear of losing control.

How to treat fear of darkness (Achluophobia)

This brings us to a very important conclusion. To treat your fear of darkness you must first understand its specific cause for several persons can fear darkness for various reasons. If you discovered for example that you fear darkness because you are a control freak then working on your desire to control everything is the best cure. See also This is why you think your house is haunted

Achluophobia is an irrational fear. After all there nothing to be feared out there but what makes the belief of finding scary things in dark places remains intact is that the person rarely tests the belief. The person suffering from Achluophobia just escapes from him fears and that's why they remain where they are.

In order to deal with those irrational beliefs you can use exposure therapy (where you will get exposed to darkness until you discover that there is nothing to be afraid of in there).

If you are too afraid to get directly exposed to the feared situation then systematic desensitization could be used.

systematic desensitization is a method of therapy that is helpful in treating anxiety and phobias without involving direct exposure unlike the case with exposure therapy.

In systematic desensitization the feared situation should be divided into different levels. For example in the case of fear of darkness level one could be staying with a friend in a dark room, Level two could be staying alone in the same dark room and so on.

After you divide your fears into levels you should then try to experience each of these levels while controlling your emotions. If you succeeded to go through a certain level while feeling relaxed then you should move on to the next until you manage to go through them all.

Finally cognitive behaviour therapy can help you get over your fear of darkness. Since emotions are triggered by thoughts and since thoughts result from beliefs therefore changing certain beliefs can prevent certain emotions from being triggered.

That's exactly how CBT treats fear of darkness. By changing your beliefs about darkness you will no longer fear afraid in dark places.

Note that no matter what method you used if you left the root cause of the fear not dealt with then the fear will either persist or it will return back in a different form. This is why you must begin by examining the root cause of your fears before you move on to the next step.

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Did that help?

well the problem is that i fear ghosts

Yes but tell me more about exposure therapy

Yes but tell me about systematic desensitization

Yes but tell me more about cognitive behaviour therapy

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