What is darkness?

This is an interesting philosophical question!

Darkness does not exist, in and of itself – it has no ‘being’. Simply, we can consider darkness as the mere absence of light. Whereas light is made of photons, darkness isn’t actually made of anything. Wherever light is absent, darkness ensues.

As our particular location on Earth turns away from the light of our Sun, the darkness of night falls upon us.

Ironically, from any particular viewpoint, ultimate darkness seems to ‘arrive’ at the speed of light.

Fear of the Dark

Throughout the history of humanity, darkness has been associated with fear. But what is it about darkness that causes people, particularly children, to be afraid?

When darkness falls, what we once knew, is cast into doubt. In simple terms, if we cease to be able to perceive our world then it becomes much less predictable, far less less stable, and terrifyingly unsafe in some instances.

This is partly why we have streetlights – it isn’t just about not wanting to bump into things, it’s about fear.

Light Relief

Conversely then, imagine the relief of the universal child who switches on a torch from beneath their bed sheets – sweeping the intense white disc across the dark bedroom, illuminating the familiar trappings of early life – the door, the walls, the toy on the floor where it was left, or perhaps the Spitfire hanging from the ceiling? Perhaps even underneath the bed where we think the monsters live?!

– All in an attempt to assure themselves that the world they once knew still exists, and moreover, that something horrible hasn’t come to be since the light was switched off.

The Light

I have a favourite quote that I often refer to:

“All people, by their nature, desire to know.”

This statement is from Metaphysics, by Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE). He was telling us about an innate propensity that all people share – the thirst for knowledge, and therefore, understanding. He seems to have known all those years ago that we have this insatiable drive, and also, that the frustration of understanding something can be painful for us.

In a metaphorical sense, if we compare darkness to the absence of understanding, then we are able to see that understanding brings us comfort in a world that may initially seem overwhelming. Understanding is light, and it brings us peace, even within the context of the most painful of circumstances.

Therefore, we can consider darkness akin to unknowing and to pain, and consider light akin to knowing and to pleasure.

Through understanding, the intolerable can, and does become tolerable.

It’s an interesting personal exercise to consider the pain we’ve experienced through not knowing something, compared to the pleasure we’ve experienced from knowing something – try thinking about this!


Eudemonics has helped many people to recover from psychological trauma. From our person-centred viewpoint, we consider trauma as an incomplete learning experience, rather than a clinical disease.

Aside from avoiding the very real harm caused by clinical judgement and labelling, we find that our perspective facilitates a unique opportunity with which to help people enduring what may otherwise be considered a life-limiting (and sometimes life-ending) condition.

Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) is a process of that allows a person to systematically examine their mental world within a uniquely safe environment, gaining greater understanding with regard to the incident(s) that are believed to have caused their trauma.

Processing during TIR sessions leads to personal growth, and a new sense of wellbeing, as the effects of trauma fall away, and the incident is viewed more philosophically, and as a source of experiential learning, instead of something endless and painful.

Essentially, The client experiences enlightenment, banishing permanently the darkness of not fully understanding what happened to them.

If you’d like to learn more about our work helping people to flourish, please contact Eudemonics using the form below,

For now, take care,


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Posted by:Sean McCallum CTIRt CCt

Crisis Intervention & Trauma Consultant