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Death reaction

  1. May 1, 2004 #1
    Why do the minds of many fear or even deny death? The mere thought of death for some people trigger panic attacks. Granted the mind's instintual reaction is to fear the unknown as a means of survival, but shouldnt the mind have already evolved to accept death? Does this mean that the true nature of the mind is to fight and defeat death, striving for immortality, or is this reaction of fear a flaw in the human mind?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2004 #2
    I don't see how this can be specified to humans. All living things strive to survive. It is the nature of life. To live we must be alive. To be alive we must avoid death. We avoid death by fear of it. Fear is basically the combination of instinct and emotion. Things like insects do not have fear because they have no emotion. Only instinct.
  4. May 3, 2004 #3
    But I think there's more to it than just instinct. My Biology teacher once told us this: The human brain is like a PC. You buy it to work with it, that's what it's built for. But you always can do more things with it, play with it, watch videos and stuff - all by-products, but still they are valuable and sometimes (just sometimes?) more fun than work.

    The fact that all over the world people think about death, fear it, produce mysteries around it, cannot be argued with evolutional necessarity. One could even say, all religions are based on the fear of death, I can't think of a religion which doesn't offer some sort of Heaven, Nirvana, Walhalla or whatever. But you can very well survive without religion (...hmm, I hope so :wink: ).

    Fear of the unknown? I'd rather think it's fear of the inscrutable. One just cannot imagine to simply stop to exist like that. You can explore unknown things, but you can't explore death. Therefore you fear it.

    Last edited: May 3, 2004
  5. May 3, 2004 #4
    I would have thought evolution has made us fear death so that we try our best to survive-making the competition a little more fierce?
  6. May 3, 2004 #5
    I think that this is one reason why religion plays such a large role in our society-- and many societies. (Looking for life beyond death).
  7. May 3, 2004 #6


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    I think there is a difference between avoiding death and fearing it. There are also different degrees of fear. There's a healthy aspect, not to mention good survival strategy, to avoiding climbing out on an unstable cliff edge out of fear you might fall to your death. On the other hand, some people fear death to the point they don't bother to live. I think that's counterproductive to survival. If you thought of an analogous example of an animal so afraid it would be eaten by a predator that it never left its burrow, then it would instead starve to death. I have grandparents like that, the kind who has been telling me for the last 30 years, "you better visit because this might be the last time I see you, I could be dead by next year." So, they stay home and wait to die. I guess it's not relevant to species survival, no selection strategy for or against it since they have obviously reproduced and their children have reproduced, and even their grandchildren have reproduced at this point, so it has nothing to do with reproduction or survival of the species, but it sure doesn't seem like a good way to live.
  8. May 12, 2004 #7
    so what is the point of living?
  9. May 16, 2004 #8


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    Reproducing. :wink:
  10. Nov 20, 2004 #9
    Why do the minds of many fear or even deny death? I believe that human minds are always fighting, whatever they are fighting for (knowledge, money, another pleasures...) fear is an hormonal reaction (no matter about the stimulus), as nothing is perfect just human, some human minds when they are tired believe in a perfection that is not into an human dimension, this dimension is unknown, that makes feel fear because... they can realize "being" or "been" (I don't know!) is not only be alive with hormonal reactions.
  11. Nov 21, 2004 #10
    Death is inacceptable and always will be. No one is looking forward to it. Fear comes because no one knows what it is like to die or if death leads you to a new life or not. Speaking for myself, I found peace in God. Without him I would not have any reason not to dread death.
  12. Nov 21, 2004 #11
    Death can be a reason of fear for many reasons. I believe a major reason is fear of dieing without purpose. Did you really matter during your life. No one wants to die useless and many fear that they will die with out ever truly accomplishing anything. Also just from instict.... you are programmed to avoid death, death is the great unknown and for people with religion they believe it means judgement time for people who don't have religion it means the end... nothing else. Seeing death brings out your mortality it shows you that you will not live for ever and often puts in prospective how much sooner the end is for you or someone you care for, and this often brings fear to people.
  13. Nov 22, 2004 #12
    I don't feel that having mattered something during your life will calm your fear of death. When having tasted the goods of life and seen many things, one rarely wants that to be taken away. Death means the end of your perceptions and mind, and you will not be able to feel anything any longer. That is the greatest loss a person can ever have, the loss of life. I think that in all of us there lives a passion to live and this passion never burns out totally.

    Disagree, Tom? :)
  14. Nov 22, 2004 #13
    To a certain extent I do disagree. When old age death becomes more eminent. People begin to exspect it. However I believe there is much more acceptance of this fact if people believe their life mattered....

    ... (more to come... sorry ran out of time.)
  15. Nov 22, 2004 #14
    But the expectation is not final. Expecting death does not mean that you are accepting it. Acception and expectation is a habit, something you must get accustomed to, not the meaning with growing old and getting closer to death. Isn't that so?

    (...That's allright, take your time..! :nod)
  16. Nov 23, 2004 #15
    To a certain extent I do disagree. As one begins to enter the final chapters of their life from what I understand they go into a period of reflection about their life. I think that people who can look back at their life and think, I am happy with what I have accomplished and I have made a difference can handle death much better than those whom feel their life has mattered none. I am not saying people who feel their life mattered don't fear death, but I am saying that they look at it in a different light, and can begin to accept death. People who view their life as worthless could be viewed to have two reactions, one fearful of the fact that they could die without mattering, or with out someone caring. Or two they could look forward to death as a way to end their pain.

    Death itself I don't believe is something to fear and isn't what really people are scared about. People are scared about the act of dieing and the consequences associated with a death. For some they fear judgment. For others they are afraid of how they will die, and the pain they may feel. For many the final result should be viewed in good light with religion where they will finally go to somewhere better.

    Consider this question, would you if you could live forever if you had to be bound to this earth? Sometimes things just seem like it is over. People accept the fact that their life is over and their ticket has been called. A man who did everything that he wanted to in life and feels that his life has made a difference looks at death with no fear. However since perfection is impossible, people can only be happy with their life to a certain extent. The happier they are, the less death is feared.
  17. Nov 24, 2004 #16
    Yes, this is true - in some lucky cases. Nor everyone meets death peacefully after having lived a long life. To some, death comes in form of and accident or an unpredictable illness.

    I second this. It seems that we cling to life because of an anxiety.

    I would not live forever if I was bound to this Earth, no. And I wish for a peaceful death because nothing in this life is certain, and there is nothing that cannot bring potential damage on me. Life quality is important for living. I don't think any person would want to leave this existence without having tasted the good of living. :smile:
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