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View Full Version : Why would a grown up woman be afraid of dark?



Elenitsa
02-24-2012, 02:02 PM
When a blackout occurs, as she was discussing with a man, she suddenly is seeking for protection at his chest.

After a while, when she is OK, he asks her why is she so afraid of dark. Any suggestions?

Williebee
02-24-2012, 02:08 PM
Bad things have happened to her, in the dark, in the past.

She has a phobia.

She is currently being chased by something dark and scary.

Katrina S. Forest
02-24-2012, 02:11 PM
My first thought is she had a bad experience in the dark -- there's the fear that if someone approached her in the dark, she wouldn't notice them coming. She might have frequent nightmares, even though she's an adult.

The worst part about the dark, both as kids and adults, is that we can imagine something lurking there, and our eyes can't confirm that it's not.

MoLoLu
02-24-2012, 02:27 PM
I'm male, 22 years old.

I'm completely and irrationally afraid of the dark when closed spaces are involved. There's no reason. Nothing's happened to me before. I've never been mugged or anything. I'm not afraid in video games or movies.

When reality becomes involved, I'm terrified even by my own front hallway (which is fairly open and only about three meters long). My eyes and ears peak, hunt for sounds and movement. I'll pause every few seconds to watch and listen. That, or just move really quickly to turn on a light. This is a real problem when I have to use the toilet in the middle of the night. If my girlfriend's home, I'll press myself really close to her when I get back to bed.

Elenitsa
02-24-2012, 02:33 PM
Thank you very much, it helps a lot.

And yes, I think she had a bad experience in the dark, in her childhood or teen years, but I can't imagine what. She was not raped, this is sure. What else?

Was it possible - I think I read somewhere - that she had been punished as a child and hidden in a closet or wardrobe? Or what else could have happened?

catian
02-24-2012, 02:45 PM
Childhood trauma.
Often very grim childhood stories contain references of monsters/scary creatures appearing at night.
Children are very susceptible to scary stories or grown tales trying to scare of children.
I can imagine a child beingn read a scary story before bedtime, hence bedtime stories, then told to go to sleep by switching the lights off while the child is still digesting the story can be quite a traumatic experience. A child is lying in the dark thinking of the atrocities/scariness of what he just got read can be terrifying hence one grows up traumatised by darkness.
I hope this helps.

I think brings me to the point of thinking that reading before bed time might not be a very good idea because it affects our dreams and the way we sleep.

Buffysquirrel
02-24-2012, 03:00 PM
I'm not sure fear of the dark is even learnt. It's probably some throwback to 'don't go out there' from the days before streetlights but after night-hunting predators.

We are very visual creatures. The amount of brain devoted to processing visual information is huge. When we can't see, we are liable to get anxious.

TudorRose
02-24-2012, 03:07 PM
Was it possible - I think I read somewhere - that she had been punished as a child and hidden in a closet or wardrobe?

I was going to suggest this. Another might be that perhaps she has a history of blindness in her family (I think blindness can be genetic/hereditary?), so not being able to see anything sends her into a panic and she always keeps the light on.

Either could work. I think it depends on her character and what kind of upbringing you want her to have had. Eg a traumatic childhood and family relationships would have a different effect on her character than growing up in (perhaps) a loving environment where she has seen her loved ones battle with blindness and fears she may share the same fate.

Lillie
02-24-2012, 03:31 PM
Sometimes children just pick things up from their parents.

The child learns to be afraid of the dark because the mother was. They see that the parent is afraid and become afraid themselves.

Elenitsa
02-24-2012, 03:32 PM
Thank you. I guess the traumatic childhood - the only child of a working mother, her father left them when she was 5-6, for an older woman with money, not paying child support and not caring anymore about them. The mother (a primary school teacher) struggled to give her a proper education (she is a journalist now, and around 30).

Still, she had definitely a difficult childhood, fighting poverty and with a mother who loved her, but wasn't good at showing it (she was bitter for the way how she had been left by her husband, she was struggling materially, she wanted the best for the child but she was very strict with her - it was also the mentality that fatherless children would grow up to be sluts and rogues).

And yes Lillie, her mother might have fussed over to know she is back home before dark, even when she was not a teen anymore, so it has been learnt too... Everything adds up.

So, I guess it would be a mix of picking it up from her mother, having been punished and closed into a closet... or is it another English word for it? Not wardrobe, because the wardrobe is a furniture, I am thinking more about a little room as big as a wardrobe, but room... you know, like a pantry or cellar for food? (Yes, I am not a native English speaker).

stray
02-24-2012, 03:40 PM
When she was a child a burglar broke into the family home and she awoke with a start whilst he was in her bedroom. She turned on the bedside lamp and they locked eyes for a moment before he fled the scene. She has been afraid of the dark ever since.

Debio
02-24-2012, 03:48 PM
Heck, I'm over 40 and male. Sometimes I'm afraid of the dark. I had no traumatic experiences. I just read or watched too many scary stories as a kid. My own house is fine. But a simple dark hallway anywhere else and I get the heebees.

You can make a big traumatic experience for the character if you want. But it probably isn't necessary. I've told people I'm afraid of the dark. Aside from an occasional snicker, no one has ever made anything of it.

dpaterso
02-24-2012, 04:06 PM
After a while, when she is OK, he asks her why is she so afraid of dark. Any suggestions?
I'd be asking him why he isn't afraid of the dark. I think it's a primeval fear going back to our cave-dwelling days. Sure, some people have maybe overcome it. But I'd find it odd if someone questioned me about it. Even if they don't experience that fear themselves they've surely gotta understand it.

-Derek

Captcha
02-24-2012, 05:16 PM
I'm with those who say you don't need a concrete reason for her fear. She's just afraid. Is the man an emotionless robot who can't understand that sometimes humans have unexplained emotions?

For me, it's too tidy when there's a "Oh, that's because of x" explanation for every aspect of human behaviour. We're complicated. We're weird. Sometimes, people are afraid of the dark.

patskywriter
02-24-2012, 06:47 PM
It wasn't until I went away to college that I realized that I had never really experienced "the dark." I grew up in Chicago, where even the alleys are lit. As a kid, the hallway light was always on through the night, and that was something I completely took for granted.

However, when I went to college in rural Alabama, I realized what "darkness" was for the first time. Streetlights were few and far between, and for me the darkness was new and frightening. Even the night sky scared me at first—it took some really getting used to. I had never seen such an uninterrupted expanse before and the immensity actually scared me.

I sleep with the TV on all night. If someone asked, I wouldn't say that I'm afraid of the dark; I'd probably say that I'm "unfamiliar" with it and would prefer not to have to deal with it. Much like beets or sauerkraut.

jaksen
02-24-2012, 07:23 PM
Fear of the dark is 'normal' for lots of little kids, whether or not they've had a bad experience in the dark or not. When it's dark you can't see anything. You can hear though, so every sound is like - what is that? Where is Mum and Dad? Did they hear that sound?

It's what you don't know that sometimes scares you. I have a grandson who is afraid of the dark. He's never had a scary experience in the dark. He doesn't have nightmares. His parents are not afraid of the dark. But if you ask him about the dark it's, "I need a night light on or I can't see what's happening."

What's happening? Probably nothing, but if something is - you can't see it because it's dark!

Drachen Jager
02-24-2012, 09:22 PM
I think it really depends on your novel. What are your themes? What kind of novel is it? What is her background? Was she abused as a child perhaps?

There are too many possibilities as to why she might be afraid, you'd be best off figuring one out that fits your book, because this could be an opportunity to deepen characters, strengthen themes etc. If you just pick something at random you might as well skip the scene entirely.

Lyra Jean
02-24-2012, 09:34 PM
Childhood trauma.
Often very grim childhood stories contain references of monsters/scary creatures appearing at night.
Children are very susceptible to scary stories or grown tales trying to scare of children.
I can imagine a child beingn read a scary story before bedtime, hence bedtime stories, then told to go to sleep by switching the lights off while the child is still digesting the story can be quite a traumatic experience. A child is lying in the dark thinking of the atrocities/scariness of what he just got read can be terrifying hence one grows up traumatised by darkness.
I hope this helps.

I think brings me to the point of thinking that reading before bed time might not be a very good idea because it affects our dreams and the way we sleep.

Or you know don't read scary stories the children before bedtime.

Polenth
02-24-2012, 10:03 PM
If the character said, "I just am," it'd be more believable to me than an elaborate reason about a bad experience with a cupboard. Most people who are afraid of the dark just are.

Asking about it is odd. I've never had a problem with the dark, as I have an aversion to bright light and sleep on a nocturnal cycle. But I realise most people are diurnal and actually like sunlight, so it wouldn't occur to me to ask why darkness scares them. The reason seems pretty straight-forward to me.