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October 21, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Mental Health

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Afraid of the dark


I am twenty-four years old and married. I have discussed the problem I have been experiencing with my husband, but he thinks that I am being irrational. I have recently acquired a fear of darkness. I live in an apartment complex in a large college town. The apartment in which I live is two floors, has an alarm system, every window contains a lock, and the door has two locks as well. Even though we have so many safety precautions, I still do not feel safe. I cannot leave our bedroom door open at night, for I fear that I may find someone lurking in the hallway. I've been having trouble sleeping at night due to this irrational fear of mine. I wake up and can't fall back to sleep because I feel overwhelmed with fear.

I wonder if this is the result of watching crazy movies about serial killers, as well as horror movies, (which I know are not real) and the fact that every news broadcast tells of another person, couple, or family that has been killed for no apparent reason. I have cut down on watching those types of movies I mentioned, or I watch them early in the day so I forget about them by the time I go to bed. I am tired of feeling this way and have analyzed this situation as far as I can. I would appreciate any feedback on my problem.


Amanda (24 year-old woman) from TX.



Thanks for writing. Your question shows a lot of insight into you and your behavior, and I appreciate your attention to it.

I believe that the biggest clue to whatever your night fears are about, though, might have something to do with your statement, "I have discussed the problem I have been experiencing with my husband, but he thinks that I am being irrational." My guess is that the feelings you have may have a lot to do with how you feel overall at this point in your life, and perhaps in your marriage specifically.

Scary movies and news broadcasts may be adding to the sense of insecurity and doom which are already there, inside of you. The fact that you can enumerate all the security features of your building and yet find no comfort and safety in them, says that the insecurity is within you, the doubts and fears are a part of you.

You don't say when these fears began, or what other factors might be involved, such as stressors in your life which correlate timing-wise, but I'm willing to bet that something occurred or changed in your personal life at about the time that these fears began.

My recommendation to you is that you get some counseling to uncover whatever is at the root of your anxiety. I also assume that you consciously are aware of at least some of what you feel insecure about, or you would not have mentioned your husband's reaction.

You are, of course, "being irrational," about the night fears. But you may have very rational reasons for concern about yourself and your marriage, and fear of the dark is the way your unconscious is revealing those doubts.


Margaret "Peg" Burr , MA, MFT

This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr . She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.

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