Fear of the dark is often instigated during a person’s childhood and often causes severe symptoms of anxiety and depression–in some cases, this fear becomes a phobia, then causes an excessive and irrational impact on daily life. Nyctophobia most often starts as a childhood fear that is considered a normal part of development, but studies have shown that this is often more of a fear of a lack of visual stimuli and not the dark itself. So it’s not necessarily the dark–it’s what you can’t see in the dark–and the fears or anxieties that normally accompany a fear of the dark are the things that are normally associated with what cannot be seen. Ghosts, monsters, strange noises go hand in hand with what can be hanging around, unseen, in the darkest corners of the house and this is often paired with the anxiety of being or sleeping alone. Stressful or traumatic events, such as accidents or loss of a loved one tend to develop such phobias in the lives of people who might not otherwise fear things that are believed to be more dangerous. Overprotective or overanxious caregivers may also propagate fears, due to a guardian’s unwillingness to allow their children to experience the world at their own pace.
Even though it might sound childish to still possess a fear of the dark, it’s actually an evolutionary trait that human beings developed to survive in a world where we didn’t have the technology to illuminate the darkness. Due to our own inability to see in the dark due to poor eyesight, people were often wary of the dark, as it masked the predators that we couldn’t fend off without being able to see clearly. It didn’t help that most of these predators came out at night–even though being stalked or hunted by predators at night is more of a rarity these days, fear of the dark is still an instinctual trait that we still experience today. Most people, however, don’t have an overwhelming fear though, as it presents as a form of mild anxiety, our own clue to remain vigilant in case danger arises when we’re least expecting it.
For our ancestors, lions and other predators were among the biggest threat to their lives–but now it’s the fear of the unknown. Our imaginations run wild and fill the void with our worst fears–the things that go bump in the night. The more creative among us have invented these monsters because they allow us to come to terms with the fight-or-flight instinct that lingers on the edge of our subconscious and waits for its time to shine.
The ALTER Horror Short FIlm: La Noria (2018)
ALTER is actually a fairly prolific horror channel on YouTube, one that churns out horror shorts like there is no tomorrow. Honestly, some are amazing while others might fall short, but one that has really caught our attention recently is La Noria which they uploaded to YouTube in 2018. If you were afraid of the dark as a child, needless to say, you would probably have reacted just like the little boy depicted in this animated short.
The horror genre capitalizes on the eerie darkness that stirs up our fears and anxieties–many movies focus solely on why the darkness scares us, while most of them just use it as another scare tactic that goes along with all of the other hidden fears that may have developed over the years that we have existed on this planet.
- The Darkness (2002)
- Darkness Falls (2003)
- Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)
- Lights Out (2016)
- The Dark (2018)
- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
Just remember, if you’re afraid of the dark, you’re not a chicken, it just means your mind and body are just more attuned to the evolutionary traits that your ancestors have passed down that make you more fit for survival!
North Carolina-based author and artist, Mary has been a horror aficionado since the mid-2000s. Originally a hobby artist and writer, she found her niche in the horror industry in late 2019 and hasn’t looked back since. Mary’s evolution into a horror expert allowed her to express herself truly for the first time in her life. Now, she prides herself on indulging in the stuff of nightmares.
Mary also moonlights as a content creator across multiple social media platforms—breaking down horror tropes on YouTube, as well as playing horror games and broadcasting live digital art sessions on Twitch.