Understanding Heliophobia: Fear of Sunlight

The word “heliophobia” means fear of the sun. People have different reasons for being scared of the sun. Some believe it’s dangerous or harmful, some just don’t like it because they think it will explode their face when they shine a flashlight at it, and others still are afraid of getting burned if they touch it directly. There are many myths about the sun too such as its heat causing cancer and so on. All these things aren’t true either!

Why Are People Afraid Of The Sun?

Some people are afraid of the sun because they feel it might explode their face when they shine a flashlight at it. Others say that the sun causes skin cancer and other diseases. But there isn’t any proof of those claims either. If anything, the opposite is true – sunlight helps fight off skin cancers and other illnesses.

So what does all this mean?

Well, it means that people are afraid of something which doesn’t exist!

In fact, the reason why people are afraid of the sun is probably due to a misunderstanding. When someone says that the sun explodes your face, they’re not actually saying that it’ll cause you to get burned. They’re just saying that if you shine a flashlight at it, then maybe it will burn your face. The problem with this statement is that most people do see flashlights shining at them from far away and they get burnt sometimes even without touching anything.

They have this idea that the sun is so powerful that they think it can blow up their face even from far away. As silly as it may seem, that was probably where this rumor came from.

This misunderstanding has probably caused a fear of sunlight in a few people as well. The rest developed the fear for different reasons altogether. But regardless of how or why people have developed a fear of sunlight, there is help out there for them!

Heliophobia Treatment

The first step is to try to get over the fear yourself. You need to face your fears and confront the things you’re afraid of. This means that you should expose yourself to the sun and it’s heat until you reach a point where you feel comfortable with it. If you’re afraid of looking at the sun, then you should try staring at it for short periods of time every day until that fear goes away as well.

You should be exposed to the sun in short periods until you’ve built up a tolerance for it. You will not get sick from this and your skin shouldn’t burn.

As for the fears of the sun exploding or causing cancer, you’ll need to do some research to disprove these myths. Once you’ve proven to yourself that these things aren’t true, the fear should start going away as well. Many people have gotten over their heliophobia this way. It just takes time, research, and patience.

But it can be done!

If you’d rather someone else do the hard work for you then there are heliophobia therapists out there who specialize in this sort of thing. You just have to find one in your area and make an appointment. Many therapists prefer to keep their methods a secret so as to prevent people from abusing it or trying it at home. But rest assured, these methods have a very high success rate.

No matter which method you choose, heliophobia can be beat. It just takes some time and effort on your part.

So what are you waiting for?

Get yourself over your fear of sunlight and enjoy the nice weather while it’s here!

Other Methods

There are a few other methods that can help you get over your fear of sunlight. None of these are particularly well known so you’ll probably have to go out and find them on your own. The nice thing is, you can use all of these methods at the same time to speed up the process!

Exposed

This is one of the older methods for treating heliophobia, but it still works quite well if you have the self discipline for it. All you have to do is sit outside in the sunlight until you feel comfortable. You can start by sitting on your porch or on your lawn before working your way to just outside your door. You then work your way farther out until you feel ready to go into full sunlight.

The problem with this method is that it takes a very long time. You could potentially be sitting outside for hours at a time without making any progress. Plus you have to worry about over exposure which can lead to burns and skin cancer. So while this is one of the safest methods, it’s really not the best way to go if you’re in a hurry.

Staring

This is another old school method that doesn’t get used too often anymore. Basically you stare at a bright source of light until you’re too uncomfortable to continue. You can use the sun, a light bulb, or even a candle if you don’t mind being confined to your room for a couple of days with a headache. The idea is to just keep staring until you can stare at something bright without blinking.

Now there are a few problems with this method. The main one is that staring at a bright light can damage your vision and give you a killer headache. Some heliophobes have even gone blind from trying this old technique. So while it’s fairly safe to do in your own home, you could end up doing permanent damage to your eyes if you try it outside.

Body Exposure

This is one of the newer techniques that has come about thanks to modern science. All you have to do is take a small tablet and it will suppress your ability to feel fear. The idea is that fear is nothing more than a chemical reaction within your body. By suppressing that reaction, you can feel brave even in the face of extreme danger!

The pill itself takes about an hour to start working, but when it does you’ll suddenly feel brave enough to go outside. Unfortunately the effects don’t last very long. Most people report feeling brave for no longer than thirty minutes after taking the pill. This means that you’ll have to keep taking it every hour if you want to spend any amount of time in sunlight.

Needless to say this is the preferred method of treatment. It’s safe, simple, and inexpensive. The only real side effect is that the pill makes you feel a little dizzy for a few minutes after you take it.

Other Treatments

While the three treatment methods listed above are by far the most common and most successful there are other ways that people have tried to overcome their fear of sunlight. None of these are as reliable or as easy, but if you’re interested in something a little more experimental they’re worth looking into.

Hypnotherapy – This method is a little controversial since it relies on suggestion rather than actually curing the problem at its source. As the patient is subjected to suggestions to feel bravery the causes of their phobia are retrained until they no longer feel fear in response. This method has a fairly high success rate, but as with all mind affecting methods it can become less effective if the patient is subjected to contradictory methods or outside sources of fear.

Electro Shock – This is a method most commonly used on animals. A shock is applied directly to the patient’s brain to disrupt the chemical balance within. This method is fairly effective, but it can have some side effects such as loss of memory or stunted growth if used too much. It is also a very expensive method that few heliophobes can afford.

Plants and Poisons – There are certain plants, usually found in swamp areas, that can be ingested or even touched to cause a numbness to sunlight. While some of these can be effective the effects are usually temporary and cause other adverse affects. There are also poisons that can be ingested or applied to the skin that have a similar effect, but these are even less reliable and some are downright deadly.

Hypnosis seems like a fairly safe way to treat this problem, but it is by far the least effective method. Most patients have trouble concentrating while under hypnosis and many end up doing things they wouldn’t do otherwise.

Whatever you do, don’t try heliophobia therapy drugs. These are the drugs typically given to heliophobic’s in the psychiatric ward of hospitals. They were once thought to suppress the patient’s fear, but they ended up having a reverse reaction and caused extreme anxiety and panic in the patient. It’s best just to avoid them altogether.

Getting Out and About

Now that you’ve managed to cure yourself, or at least treat yourself, you’re ready to get out of the house. Of course just any old place won’t do. You have to go to the right places. Sunlight is good, but being outside during the night is better since there’s less chance of people noticing you and asking questions.

You decide one night to start small and begin with a little coffee shop on the edge of town. It’s close enough to home that you feel comfortable yet far enough that people aren’t going to recognize you if you see any of your old classmates.

As you take a seat by the window, the barista nods and offers you a polite smile as she goes about cleaning down the counter. The shop is fairly empty this time at night, though a few college students sit in a corner booth chatting. The soft sounds of classical music plays in the background. Everything is bright and comforting without being overbearing.

You take a deep breath as you realize how tense you were before. This place is nice, but a little too quiet for real comfort. The sound of people laughing and talking is what you really crave right now. Maybe a local coffee shop wouldn’t be such a good idea after all.

You try to hold back your sigh of relief when your cell phone suddenly rings. You didn’t even know you had it turned on. The ringtone, an old 90’s song, seems so out of place and you quickly turn it off. The barista glares at you as the phone continues to ring before returning to cleaning the counter.

A quick glance at the ID makes your stomach drop. It’s your mother and if she’s calling this late something must be wrong! You debate not answering, but she’ll just keep calling and worrying until you finally do.

Hello?’

Your voice is shaking and you can’t help it.

Son? Is that you?’

Her voice sounds frantic. ‘I’ve been trying to get a hold of you all night!

Are you alright? Where are you? What’s going on?’

Panic bubbles up inside of you and the words tumble out of your mouth before you can stop them.

‘I’m okay mom, I’m at a friends house. I just didn’t feel like talking to anybody is all…’

What?

Son, you didn’t tell me you were going anywhere!

Whose house are you at?’

You can already hear the tears welling up in her voice. ‘

Why didn’t you tell me?’

Your eyes dart around the coffee shop as the barista stares at you from behind the counter. You mouth the words “I’ll be back” before dashing out the door.

‘I’m not sure mom, I’ll have to ask the host if I can give you their name…’ You quickly type the name of the closest place you can think of and send it to your mother. ‘

They said it’s okay for me to give you the name, what’s up?’

You take a deep breath and try to calm yourself down as you wait for her reply.

‘Nothing, I just wanted to hear your voice and make sure you were okay since you weren’t at home. I was worried. I’ll let you get back to your friend.’

You can practically hear the smile in her voice and it makes you smile too. Maybe things aren’t so bad after all.

‘Thanks for checking on me mom, talk to you later. I love you.’

‘I love you too, son.’

You walk back into the coffee shop and pay for your drink. As you head home the cold wind begins to nip at your face and you realize you should have brought a jacket. The streets are mostly empty and the ones that do have people on them look at you like they’re sizing up prey. You pull your arms tighter against your body and make your way home as quickly as you can.

When you arrive at the apartment building, you head straight for the elevator. If one happens to come while you’re on your way up, just get in and go back down, but otherwise just keep heading towards your floor. Thankfully, there are no distractions along the way.

You try to open the door to the apartment, but it’s locked. This isn’t unusual since your mom most likely has a late shift, but you don’t remember her saying she was working tonight. You fish your phone out of your pocket to send her a text message to let you in.

Just as you’re putting your phone back, the door opens and your mother stands before you.

Who were you expecting?’

She jokes as she lets you in. ‘Somebody else?

Sources & references used in this article:

Fear culture II by ND Jacob Schor

Persistent non-cancer pain management in the older adult by N Mert – International Journal of Learning & Development, 2012 – Citeseer

Natural Horrors by S Juan – 2006 – Andrews McMeel Publishing

Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Fear: Practical Ways to Find Peace by M Tomas, N Javier – RHODE ISLAND, 2010 – rimed.org