DARKNESS: NOT OUR OLD FRIEND
For many, this fear of the dark begins in childhood as a fear of the unexpected,
Thomas Ollendick, professor of psychology and director of the Child Study Center at Virginia Tech, told LiveScience,
that something or someone will pop out of the closet or from underneath the bed. Most grow out of these fears as they get older.
A survey of 2,000 adults conducted this year by Go Glow found that 40% of us are scared when walking around the house with the lights off.
One in 10 admitted they were too terrified to even get up for a toilet trip in the darkness.
It’s something Katie Johns, 39, a Londoner who works in communications, knows well –
she can still vividly recall what prompted her lifelong fear of the dark when she was a girl.
“I was half asleep, and I thought I saw someone standing at the top of our stairs, just looking at me and my sister.
I lay there in the dark, staring and being scared, not wanting to move.
After that I slept with a crucifix for about five years and shared a bedroom with my grandmother. I couldn’t sleep alone.”
Now an independent and confident woman, Katie is still not comfortable sleeping in a pitchblack room, and leaves her door open with the landing light on.
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health have found a powerful link between stress and anxiety,
indicating that even moderate stress might make you freak out when something happens that's just a little spooky.
Especially if it happens when it's dark.
Of course it's no secret that humans have an inherent fear of the dark.
Scientists, and even us common folks, have known that for a long time.
With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, we know that darkness is really not our old friend.
Humans are diurnal, meaning we spend most of our working time in the daylight, and thus are more averse to darkness. So if you want to scare a human, turn out the lights.
STEPHEN KING ON FEAR:
I'm not a child anymore but... I don't like to sleep with one leg sticking out.
Because if a cool hand ever reached out from under the bed and grasped my ankle, I might scream. Yes, I might scream to wake the dead.
That sort of thing doesn't happen, of course, and we all know that.
The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn't real.
I know that, and I also know that if I'm careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle."
Fear is the emotion that makes us blind.
How many things are you afraid of?
Are you afraid of the dark?