What is Fear of Death
Fear of Death is a type of anxiety triggered by visions of one’s own mortality. One source explains death anxiety as a “feeling of dread, apprehension or solicitude (anxiety) when one thinks of the process of dying or ceasing to “be”. Death anxiety, also referred to as thanatophobia (fear of death), is distinct from necrophobia, which is a common fear of people and/or objects dead or dying; the latter is the fear of those who are dead or dying, whereas the former involves one’s own death or dying. In this article, we will discuss what is fear of death, how to avoid it, what is treatment methods, etc.
Is fear of death common?
One way or another, fear of death is something we all can face. In the end, all sane people know: One day, we will all die. In this respect, the fear of death is natural. However, as in other psychological disorders, the severity of fear and its effects on our lives determine the factors in fear of death.
Sooner or later, we all will face death. But why are some of us more afraid of death? What exactly is it that scares us to death?
The idea of death is not pleasant. In addition to our own desires and goals, we focus on what life has to offer and escape from terrible thoughts such as death.
Fear of Death Natural or Trauma-Induced?
Ernest Becker shaped the current understanding of the fear of death and its causes.
Becker believes that the fear of death naturally comes to all people who find the idea of death unacceptable. Therefore, Becker argued that everything we do – our goals, our passions, our hobbies, and the activities we participate in – is essentially a coping strategy. And that we have to focus on not worrying about our final death.
Becker’s work has uncovered the Terror Management Theory, which suggests that people should always deal with internal conflict. It’s a fundamental desire to live against the certainty of death: the ways in which individuals achieve their personal goals driven by self-consciousness and death.
Fear of Death as a Psychological Disorder
Although we are afraid of death or death in some periods of our lives, the anxiety of death becomes pathological only when it reaches extreme levels in a way that disrupts the individual’s life.
One aspect of death anxiety as stated by a man’s wife-reveals the extent to which such fear can become obsessive and get out of control.
“Fear is especially fear of death (not death by pain or suffering) and death void (not a believer) and the fact that it no longer exists. His fear is an emotional fear that is inconsistent with his control. He’s been getting worse lately – he doesn’t know why – but he’s panicked and his thoughts don’t go out of his mind all day.”
Who Fears Death?
Dr. Robert Kastenbaum developed various theories of psychology and made researches on the concept of death and summarized who feared death. Dr. Patricia Furer and John Walker summarized the findings in an article published in the journal Cognitive Psychotherapy:
- The vast majority of individuals are afraid of death. Most people tend to fear death, but only the degree of anxiety varies.
- Women tend to fear death more than men. In addition, according to a new study, death anxiety has occurred in both men and women in the 20s, while women in the 50s have experienced a second fluctuation.
- Young people, like old people, can experience death anxiety.
- There is a relationship between a person’s educational background and socioeconomic status and death anxiety.
- No relationship could be established between religious belief and death anxiety.
CBT for Fear of Death
Exposure to Fears
Individuals who try to reduce the anxiety of death should express their fears clearly and determine exactly what scares them about death and whether there are situations and places they avoid, such as funerals or graveyards, so that their fears are not triggered.
Dr. Furer and Walker propose to be exposed to fear-related (alive and fictitious) issues related to death since the individual’s confrontation with anxiety elements is an important part of the CIS.
Reduce the Behavior of Trust Seeking
This step aims at an individual’s tendency to control his or her body for worrying changes obsessively and to talk to counselors or peers in search of emotional assurance of death-related concerns.
To prevent this kind of harmful behavior, Dr. Walker and Furer suggested that ‘postpone target behavior, gradually reduce their frequency, or stop behavior altogether.
Reviewing Personal Experiences
It is also important to review the personal experiences of individuals’ death, such as witnessing the death of a loved one and encountering a life-threatening illness.
Dr. Furer, we help them move on to more balanced views on these issues, says Furer. It can help them cope with the fear of death more calmly.
Focus on Enjoying Life
The individual must clearly define his short, medium and long-term goals. That will make them enjoy life better.
Develop a Healthy Lifestyle
The therapist should also identify and address sources of stress for people facing any unhealthy lifestyle that would aggravate death anxiety.
Prevention of Repetition of Anxiety
Finally, Drs. Furer and Walker say, although death anxiety is reduced by CBT, many people can relapse again. To prevent this from happening, he says, it is vital that each one develops coping strategies for challenging situations that can trigger death anxiety, such as a sudden illness or an emotional crisis.
Should We Face Fear of Death or Avoid It ?
Death and fear of death are difficult issues, especially where healthcare professionals are not sure how to talk about.
As a society, we are so eager to refrain from thinking about the end of life that we are obsessed with seeking other ways of artificially preserving life
There is no clear way to deal with the thought of the death of yourself or of others. So why not live our lives being productive?