Perhaps when the dhutanga bhikkhus speak of intentionally "going to scary places" this is a type of self-imposed "dark night."
Also, with all this talk of fear, no one's mentioned the beneficial aspects of fear as in the principle of "fear of wrongdoing."
I've just always assumed if practice doesn't help you learn how to deal with fear you're not practicing. I feel sorry for those who've allegedly been misled, but if your'e surprised by fear or terror or other such negativity, you're being naive and have no one but yourself to blame. Therapists and Buddhist teachers may have helped, but the choices are still yours.
I just took it down, but my old signature used to have a quote form Gil Fronsdal I think's appropriate. "At the heart of Buddhism lies both realism and optimism." IOW, it has a dukkha-teaching side and a joy/release-teaching side. But no matter which map you try to impose on the territory, you still have to take the the road through hell to get to heaven. And your constant companions, aging, sickness, death, etc..., will always be your passengers.
In this sense "dark nights" are much more than just "stages" on the Path--their essential conditions for the Fruition of Release. I think the Buddha was alluding to this when he talked about the tears (or was it blood?) we've shed in all previous lives being greater than the ocean.
RON: where in the suttas can we find the Buddha teaching a type of "meditation" called "vipassana"?