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What's with the fear of darkness anyways?

Imagine when the lights go out.... Is fear your first response?

What scares us about walking into a dark room?
Why is entering a dark area unnerving?

Is it because we don't know what is in the dark area that could potentially harm us or is it simply the lack of light that is not sufficient for our eyes to see that scares us?

We know the dark is frightful to most people because we see many horror movies taking place in the dark, scary theme parks are set in the dark and typically Halloween pranks are more frightening without light.

Is it psychological, physical, or even emotional?

Why so scared of the dark?

  • Nov 4 2011: Darkness is the second greatest fear of any person who has ever experienced light. It's not the darkness we fear but what it represents. Darkness is the physical manifestation of the unknown, and of ignorance of danger. It is not the darkness, but what lies inside it. And when we can't see what is there, we are hardwired to imagine whatever frightens us individually the most. This is why the scariest part of a horror movie is before we see the monster, when we are imagining all the terrible things it could be. Its why, since landing on the moon, we've made so little headway in the exploration and colonization of space. Space is the single greatest form of darkness, of the unknown, the very thing we've known to fear our entire lives. And it seems reckless, even suicidal, to step boldly into that frontier, without first examining, experimenting, and pushing back as much of the unknown as possible first.
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    Nov 4 2011: It just illustrates what 'Visual creatures' we are and how much we rely on visual input. Even though many of our other senses are far more sensitive.
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      Nov 4 2011: I agree... though I don't think we can compare sensitivity between perceptual organs, as we have no "universal perceptual unit" with which to mesure.
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    Nov 3 2011: When I read your question, I have to laugh, because it is so true : "What's with the fear of darkness anyways?".

    In general, is the fear on the unknown, BUT, is not the actual darkness that make us go scared, is more, the STORY THAT WE TELL OURSELF, WHEN WE ARE WALKING AT NIGHT!! It is our own mind that contribute to it, and WE escale ourself to have fear.

    Yes, of course, all the movies, and "bad" stuff happen at night...does trigger fear of the darkness, for sure!

    So, I really believe, if you have great thoughts at night, you'll be find, fear will not have any place, because your mind is busy, thinking about : light, joy, peace etc...

    Imagine a blind person, they are in the "dark everyday", you don't see to many blind people, walking and almost hiding themselves, because they are afraid of the cars, people, accident etc....they are walking "in the light", they are cleared minded.

    At the end, change your mind about darkness, and you'll be always in the light!

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    Nov 7 2011: How long does evolutionary change take to kick in?

    And having light makes the dark out there look still darker.
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    Nov 4 2011: Perhaps we can find a decent answer to your question by turning things upside down: why are vampires and draculas afraid of daylight?

    I think we should be inclusive in our conversations. So if there's any of them out there, please contribute your views on this fascinating topic.
  • Nov 4 2011: Fear of the unkown. Our imaginations are far scarier than anything that walks at night.

    But remember, you can only see the stars at night. Astronomers embrace the darkness.
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    Nov 4 2011: Fear of the dark was a primitive survival mechanism. 'Out there' was a dangerous place for humans, and it became more dangerous when we couldn't see the predators, especially when they could see us. Those who were afraid of the dark were more likely to survive till the next day, so evolutionary selection built that fear into us.
    • Nov 7 2011: But now we have the ability to see at night with light bulbs, and other light sources. What now?
  • Nov 4 2011: Great post!

    But what about a person who is blind from birth who has no concept of light. Why would they have or not have fear of the dark if that is all they have ever seen or known?
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    Nov 4 2011: If I've learnt anything from TV, it's that vampires can't survive in sunlight and that most scary creatures prefer the dark.

    A testament to the human imagination and how easily we slip back into old fears and superstitions.

    A throwback to the excitement and fear of "staying up late" as a kid? Who knows?