RESEARCH: FEAR OF DEATH -- “Death is necessary & cannot be avoided. I mean, where am I going to go to get away from it?”. - Epictetus
Throughout human history, death anxiety has been a pervasive theme. From the ancient Egyptian practice of mummification to recent cryogenic research, humans have contemplate their impermanence through art, literature, religion & philosophy.
Yalom (2008) proposed that death anxiety may underlie much of human distress, casting a shadow over our daily life. A fear of death can become a phobia, cause panic or obsessive behaviour with body checking, frequent medical appointments, reassurance seeking, & requests for medical testing being key behaviours. When focused on death, individuals can feel hopeless and helpless, leading to depression & melancholia.
Unfortunately, this fear can be difficult to treat in therapy. Recent research suggests that in order to overcome the dread of death, therapy should cultivate some form of acceptance of mortality. Three discrete types of death acceptance have been dispossessed.
1. Escape acceptance – embracing death as a welcome escape from the suffering & pain of life.
2. Approach acceptance – accepting death due to one’s beliefs about the existence of a desirable afterlife.
3. Neutral acceptance – accepting death as a natural part of life, & something outside of one’s control.
Source: Article: "Death anxiety. The worm at the core of mental health" by R.E. & R.G Menzies. InPsych 2018 | Vol 40, December | Issue 6
Photo: The beautiful Canopies jars from Tutankhamen's tomb. These jars were used by the ancient Egyptians during the mummification process to store and preserve the viscera of their pharoah for the afterlife.
June Gay Psychologist @travelpsychology #psychologyart #psychologydemystified
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