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The darkness

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Text Preview Fear Of The Dark: Is It Really Irrational?
Aug 29, 2012
After serving for more than 10 years as the advice columnist for British newspaper The Observer, Mariella Frostrup let readers in on a dilemma of her own that she faces every single night.

While responding to a reader, the "agony aunt" mentioned in passing that she suffers from what she calls an "irrational fear" of the dark, she writes, in her latest column for the paper.

When I went public on my fear of the dark, writing "me too" in what may have been one of my least helpful responses to a troubled reader, a deluge of sufferers wrote to admit they were similarly afflicted. The letters weren't just from those sensibly nervous when wandering an empty street after midnight, but full-on phobics like myself left paralysed with fear and virtually unable to sleep alone. Is it some form of mass hysteria or is the dark, as I've always believed, actually scary? In an effort to find the ever-elusive peaceful slumber, Frostrup decided to try hypnosis, and spilled her guts to -- uh, interviewed -- a psychotherapist for the essay as well. Click over to The Observer to read the details of her experience.

But is, as Frostrup writes "what seems to me a shameful condition for a near-50-year-old" really that irrational? And if her mailbag is any measure, why are so many adults still shackled by it?

In fact, a fear of the dark in adulthood may be more common than even the sleep experts themselves would think. In a small study presented at the SLEEP 2012 conference in Boston, researchers were surprised to find how many adults 'fessed up to fearing things that go bump in the night.

"We were shocked by how many people acknowledged they were afraid of the dark as adults," study author Colleen Carney, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Ryerson Unversity in Toronto, Canada, told HuffPost's Catherine Pearson.

In Carney's study, the 93 participants dubbed themselves either "good sleepers" or "poor... Show More

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