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The Study of Black and Why We're Afraid of the Dark

It can be difficult to discern the difference between someone attending a funeral, prepping for the catwalk, and simply strolling through a large city. Each category can be represented by an all-black outfit. According to Leatrice Eiseman, color specialist and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, the color black has undergone a significant transformation over the last 50 to 100 years.

According to her, black has evolved from being a color associated with mourning and gloom to a fashion mainstay that exudes refinement. "It has that kind of weight attached to it ... that now brings a sense of power to the color ... beyond just funerals and grief and widows' weeds," Eiseman said. People nowadays use black as a signal of high-end apparel to hide their size and project confidence, according to her.

However, the color's association with sadness persists across cultures, as seen by American and European mourning customs, as well as imaginary images of evil, such as a witch's hat or the Grim Reaper's cape. The origins of this are part of our evolution. Black is "the color of night," Eiseman said, "the color of darkness. The color that conceals all."

We Fear What We Cannot See

You're alone at night, snoozing on the couch while watching a movie in a well-lit room; your safety is not in doubt. Outside, there is a strong wind. The branches sway and scratch against the pane of glass. The electricity goes out after you hear a loud fizzle. You're now completely surrounded by darkness, and most people are probably terrified.

"Fear is just like pain. Fear is there to protect us from possible harm," said Martin Antony, professor of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto and author of "The Anti-Anxiety Workbook." "So that fear makes us more vigilant for possible danger."

People would have been more vulnerable to predators or opponents in the dark in the prehistoric era, he said. As a result of evolutionary pressures, humans have developed a fear of darkness.

"In the dark, our visual sense vanishes, and we are unable to detect who or what is around us. We rely on our visual system to help protect us from harm," Antony said. "Being scared of the dark is a prepared fear." Eiseman agreed that "the unknown" is a natural link that humans have with the color black since it obscures distinct shapes and potential threats.

"How we see colors in nature has such an important effect on the human psyche," she said. "And we know that from the beginning of time, black is the color of night, and it's the color that could hide any nefarious deeds that might be perpetrated under the cover of darkness." She claims that this notion has been instilled in us since we were children. We can now turn on the light and continue to have fun even at night, owing to current technology, she remarked. However, some people never seem to be able to get over their fear.

Excessive Fears

Fear is natural, but it can become a concern if it becomes excessive, according to Antony. Many of us may feel a significant terror being alone at night in a dangerous section of town, he added, but feeling that way in a dark bedroom is less likely. A lot of causes can contribute to excessive fear of the dark. It could be the result of a traumatic incident, such as being attacked in a dark environment. According to Antony, it could be induced by something as simple as viewing a horror movie.

When the dread continues to interfere with relationships, jobs, or the capacity to accomplish activities they want to do, it can develop into a phobia, known as nyctophobia. Antony believes that someone who is unwilling to leave their residence at night is suffering from a phobia. Nightlights or keeping a door open to enable light from elsewhere to partially restore vision are examples of aids.

These are referred to as "safety signals," according to Antony. A modest light or a companion in the room can make us feel safer and more grounded in reality. Treatment options include progressive exposure to the fearful circumstance, according to Antony.

Patients are asked to rate and arrange a list of circumstances that they are frightened of, and then they are exposed to each phobia until they are no longer terrified. "If right now they're sleeping with a nightlight, for example, we might have them buy a nightlight with a slightly dimmer bulb or one with a switch that's variable," he stated.

However, while most people are afraid of the color black, it may also provide security to others, especially in terms of fashion. "I think more people think of it as kind of an enveloping kind of color that they can pull around them that gives them a certain degree of security," Eiseman said. "They can kind of fade into the shadows." She went on to say that black has an ambivalence built into it. It is up to the individual to either fear or embraces what lurks in the shadows.

Many ladies, when looking through their closets, are likely to have welcomed it.

"Every woman knows that having the black dress in the closet, the black shoes, the black coat, the black anything that we put on, it will work in just about any circumstance," she said. As a result, one suggestion would be to face your fears by crossing over to the dark side.


About the Writers:

Maina Zaina, Writer and a Virtual Assistant at AVCreativity Studio. She enjoys media entertainment and is an avid fan of "K-Wave". She loves her job because she is exposed to different types of entertainment. She also believes in the saying "If you want to be successful, don't seek success - seek competence, empowerment; do nothing short of the best that you can do" by Jaggi Vasudev

Pamela Elizabeth, Editor-in-Chief at AVCreativity Studio. Earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Secondary Education Major in English. She loves going on little adventures alongside reading good books. She is enthusiastic about her work and ensures that her clients receive the finest service possible.

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