Why are we afraid of the dark and why is this feeling important?

Were you afraid of the dark when you were a child? And now, as an adult, does the panic continue? For, know that this feeling can protect you as a form of alert. Fear leaves us in a state of consciousness more prepared to receive something that was not in our plans.

It may be obvious, but it's not exactly the lack of light that children are afraid of in a bedroom at bedtime, but of the possibility of some bogeyman or monster climbing into their bed. For this anxiety ends up acting as a mechanism of selection and limitation against reckless behavior. In other words, it is an evolutionary advantage.

While fear of the dark may manifest as an acute panic reaction or as insomnia, a recent study at the University of Toronto suggests that it serves as a feeling of foreboding, a warning.

alert state

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Feeling anxious plays a specific role in our behavioral responses in stimuli such as the emotions of love, anger and sadness, acting to increase our ability to cope with stress and more fully exploit beneficial opportunities.

In this way, anxiety increases your awareness in situations that could damage various aspects of your life. Not just your vital signs, but your relationships, income, social status, physical characteristics, anything that makes you more attractive to the opposite sex and more likely to reproduce.

Unlike anger or sadness, which occurs in direct response to a specific event, we respond to environmental stimuli with anxiety before the expected event, which is when sensation is most evolutionarily beneficial.

Following this line of reasoning, our ancestors who best recognized and responded to danger signals (in a dark place, for example) increased their chances of survival and reproduction compared to those who preferred to venture into pitch. So the fear of the dark is, by extension, the fear of the unknown, and it is present simply so that you do not forget it.

* Originally posted 31/10/2013.

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