The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Eighteen – Fun Fact

What’s a fear that almost everyone has when they are younger? Even as many people grow up, this fear continues to linger to some extent. Today’s Fun Fact for Ch. 18 is…


Keep reading or watch the video more information about why people fear the dark.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“Then, just as he was on the point of losing himself wholly, he distinctly felt something touch him! He was broad awake in a moment, and gasping for breath. The cold horror of that mysterious touch in the dark almost made his heart stand still.” (p. 116)

This quote comes from a scene where Edward is trying to sleep in a dark barn. But all of a sudden something brushes up against him and he is both immediately awake and paralyzed with fear. It turns out to be nothing more than a calf, but it takes Edward a while to build up the courage to find out what it was that actually brushed up against him in the dark. I’m sure many people would have reacted the same way as Edward if they were in that situation. Today we explore why people fear the dark.

What is the fear of the dark?

  • Nyctophobia- extreme fear of night or darkness
    • Can cause intense symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Often starts in childhood
    • Normal part of development
  • Humans often fear dark because of its lack of visual stimuli
    • Inability to see what’s around you

An evolutionary explanation?

  • Researchers hypothesize this is an innate fear
  • Our ancestors were on the lookout for predators
    • Many predators hunted at night
    • Our poor eyesight made us vulnerable
  • Feeling of fear or foreboding
  • Essentially the fear of the unknown

Physical Symptoms

  • trouble breathing
  • racing heart rate
  • chest tightness or pain
  • shaking, trembling, or tingling sensations
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • upset stomach
  • hot or cold flashes
  • sweating

Emotional Symptoms

  • overwhelming feelings of anxiety or panic
  • an intense need to escape the situation
  • detachment from self or feeling “unreal”
  • losing control or feeling crazy
  • feeling like you may die or lose consciousness
  • feeling powerless over your fear

Emotional Symptoms

  • Leaving a dark bedroom to sleep in a lit room
  • Exposure therapy- Expose yourself to the dark repeatedly until it no longer causes feelings of panic
  • Cognitive therapy- helps replace feelings of anxiety with more positive/realistic thoughts
  • Relaxation treatment- deep breathing and exercise
  • Medication- not always appropriate

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