Fear of the dark also known as Nyctophobia is common among young children who often fear that something catastrophic may happen to them in the night. In the darkness, we can’t see very well, and for a young child, particularly one with a healthy imagination, this can be very frightening. A pervading sense can build that something sinister is just out of sight and arm’s reach waiting for its moment to strike.
As a young child, I used to suffer from this phobia, as a result of which my mother used to leave the landing light on for me to provide a calming relief from the darkness. My parents also used to ask me questions to make me elaborate on my fears. By doing this, they showed concern and sympathy, while at the same time making it very clear that they were not afraid. In this way, parents can be of great use to their children.
The fear lessened as I grew older, then went away altogether. Most children as they grow up and the world around them becomes more logical and less fantastic, come to realise that they are quite safe in the darkness and their fears were irrational.
Some adults can suffer from this fear – particularly those who suffer from nightmares or have traumatic memories. Although gradual exposure to darkness can be helpful to nyctophobics, the management of nightmares and bad memories is liable to require specialist help.
Fear of death or Thantophobia is quite a natural phenomenon. None of us know what will happen to us after we die. But to be morbidly afraid of death is unhealthy and detrimental to our lives.
If one fears death excessively, it can prevent them from being able to enjoy life. Often associated with hypochondria, morbid death fear can cause unnecessary worry and anxiety and can prevent the sufferer from being able to live life to the full.
To a point the fear of death diminishes when we see it in its natural context – a dying person surrounded by loving friends and family. However most of our images of death in the modern world have been distorted by our culture’s preoccupation with unnatural violent death: daily news stories of shootings, abductions and suicide bombings. Brutally violent movies and computer games. Also scare mongering news stories regarding types of food once perceived to be healthy, but now putting you at death’s door.
All this negative focus leads to unhealthy consequences. An exaggerated fear of dying and phobias of growing old leads to a reluctance to make a will or make any plans for those we love whom we know will outlive us and a general ignorance of normal end of life options.