by Dr. Lorin Bradbury
A couple of months ago, I responded to a question on Nyctophilia. In my response, I noted that it was not a disorder I was familiar with, but I did my best to provide a simple answer from an Internet search. In response, a reader sent in the following questions:
Question: I have some questions as well. 1) Is Nyctophilia a chronic disease? 2) Isn’t that normal if someone feels peaceful in the darkness? 3) Does this affect our daily routine or other activities, like studies etc.? I hope you’ll check these. Waiting for your answers.
Answers: (1) Is Nyctophilia a chronic disease? Nyctophilia is better described as a disorder than a disease. In Behavioral Health we look for a complex of variables that when present, allow a diagnosis. However, that does not make it a disease. You won’t find it under a microscope, and you won’t find it by doing a lab test. Instead, if a sufficient number of variables are present, we tentatively make a diagnosis.
(2) Isn’t it normal if someone feels peaceful in the darkness? The answer could be, “Yes.” However, if you are a normal person that finds peace a sitting in the darkness, you are probably not a Nyctophiliac. Nyctophiliacs feel a sense of psychological relief, similar to a person who has OCD finds relief performing an obsessional ritual, rather than a sense of peace.
(3) Does Nyctophilia affect the person’s routine or other activities? The answer to this question would be “Yes.” Many people may enjoy the peace and solitude of darkness, allowing them to think or meditate. If I understand the disorder correctly, it would only be considered Nyctophilia if it in some way impacted the individual’s daily functioning.
Again, as I noted in the previous response on this topic, this is a new disorder to me. I would encourage you to do more research on your own. However, let me caution you that you should probably turn to credible medical/mental health sites as opposed to sites that are not backed up by peer-reviewed research.
Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]