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Understanding, overcoming a fear of the forest

Although a majority of current day civilization has learned to appreciate the benefits of nature and the natural world, it wasn't always the case. From the earliest of times, societies have sought protection from the dangers of the natural world through the telling of tales and legends that were intended to ingrain children with a basic fear of the woods.

From Goldie Locks to Little Red Riding Hood to Sleepy Hollow's Headless Horseman and continuing through such movies as Deliverance, the Blair Witch Project and The Village, mankind has conditioned children to fear the woods throughout the centuries.

Admittedly, the woods can be a mysterious and foreboding place and at times, it is only natural to fear what we hear but can't see, especially at night. However, our greatest fears are the noises that come from creatures unknown. Often, these are the creatures that rest comfortably in our collective imagination.

In our mind's eye, the forest conceals a host of wild animals, witches, demons, and a host of serial killers that lurk in the darkness, awaiting the innocent. This process plays on fears that already exist in most of us, it is also known as the boogieman complex.

Increasingly, American parents have grown afraid of letting their children to play in the yard, bicycle to school or hike in the woods, even though such irrational fears are not supported by the evidence or statistics. For many, the woods are a wild place that is unbound by man-made rules or codes. Sadly, many people live in fear of these wild and untamed elements.

The forest can conceal a variety of threats, both actual and imagined. Although it is a place where a man or child can become lost, never be found again, such incidents are a rarity. An unfounded fear of the forest is known as hylophobia and it affects far more people than most of us would ever expect.

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