Context: at a birthday party my 11-year-old sister watched Annabelle and Annabelle 2. She told us later that even though she was frightened the whole time, she didn't want to stop watching, mainly as a matter of pride. She explained that even though the films were being watched mainly by girls of 14-15 years old, there were a couple of younger ones (around 7-8 years old) watching, too. These younger girls were not very scared of the movie because they could not read the subtitles and so didn't really know what was happening; so my sister didn't want to appear to be more scared than everyone else.

Since then she has been waking up every night in terror. She wakes up, super scared, and goes to my parents' bed; that's the only way she'll go back to sleep. Getting her to fall asleep is also very very hard; she says she can't stop thinking about the doll. She knows that the doll isn't real, that any of it isn't real; she says so herself. But still, she says that whenever she closes her eyes she just keeps imagining the doll behind her, or appearing by her side.

I have no idea what to do to comfort her, or make her fear go away. Again, it's not a matter of knowing the doll is not real; she keeps emphasising to us that she knows it isn't. But still, it seems that she is not being able to deal with her fear or her thoughts.

What are some strategies to make her feel safe and help her deal with her fear?

  • 8
    As a side note teach her to have the self confidence to not participate in watching these films. There is nothing wrong with being who you are and she should be confident to take care of herself without worry of what others think. In this situation caring for herself means protecting her sleep and mental health.
    – Adam Heeg
    Jul 11, 2019 at 16:50
  • @AdamHeegwork in progress :) (but we have been working on that, specially because personally I feel like that was one of my greatest flaws, growing up.)
    – essay
    Jul 12, 2019 at 8:46

2 Answers 2


Having a "comfort ritual" might help her. Turn the light on, find a good, engaging book, play some soothing music, eat something as you read. I used to have terrible nightmares and it would take me a while, sometimes hours, to pull my head out of them.

I also discovered that writing about what I was feeling helped to get the negative emotions out. I used to keep a "nightmare diary" (just a spiral notebook) in a drawer by my bed. I'd write down exactly what happened in my nightmare, then what it made me feel and what conclusions I drew from what I had dreamed (if any). Once I had written everything out of my head, I went on to reading a good book and playing music on the radio until I was sleepy enough to go back to bed.

  • We found out that even if keeping her company and calming her down brefore sleep works to na extent (she does calm down and falls asleep peacefully), she still wakes up scared in the middle of the night, or during the day, or whenever her fear strikes... Writing might be a good suggestion though, I had never thought of that!
    – essay
    Jul 12, 2019 at 8:49

Communication and education is the key to getting over our fears. Maybe you can find the making of the movie documentary so she can see all the actors off set being regular so she can see it's not real.

  • 3
    But part of the problema is that she knows it's not real. Her fear does not stem from believing such a thing exists; she is afraid even though she knows it doesn't.
    – essay
    Jul 12, 2019 at 8:47
  • 1
    @essay That's true, but seeing the scary actors acting like normal people can help her. This is because she may know it isn't real but her brain's amygdala, which regulates fear, does not. This creates a conflict where she logically knows there is nothing to fear, but experiences fear anyway. Seeing a "behind the scenes" for the movie absolutely might help disarm the terror by showing to her subconcious that everything is OK.
    – forest
    Jan 11, 2021 at 1:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .