Psychology

Why some People are Afraid of Dying and some Aren’t



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It’s an interesting phenomenon, when the conversation turns to death and dying, you can see it in people’s faces. Some are afraid, and some are not. The question is, why? Why does the thought of dying terrify some people while others are blasé to say the least?

Some people will tell you it’s a matter of religious faith; that if a person truly believe they will be going to heaven after they die, then what is there to be afraid of? And yet, that doesn’t seem to really account for the differences between people as there are an awful lot of religious people who are still very clearly afraid of dying, while there are also a lot of people who are either not religious at all, or are only as a matter of social convention seem to be able to accept their own eventual demise with relative calm.

Other people might claim that it is a matter of acceptance, such as how many people relate how surprised they were to discover after a car accident that they had felt no fear when it was actually going on, that they felt more of an inevitable feeling because things were so out of their control, that there was little they could do but wait to see how things turned out. And so, that’s exactly what they did, even though some studies have shown that this is actually a false sense of helplessness and that quite often people who are involved in a car accident actually could have done something to prevent that crash. In a similar vein, there are many reports of passengers in an airplane crash who survive the initial impact, and then simply sit around waiting to die anyway, even when there are obvious avenues of escape. It could be that some people feel that way about life in general, that you don’t really have all that much control, and you are going to die anyway at some point, so why get upset about it?

Others still seem to believe it has something more to do with how important a person feels about themselves, or how they feel about their continued existence, as if it’s just so absolutely unthinkable to them that they could just no longer be here anymore, that the very thought terrifies them.

The problem with all of these possible answers is that they seem to imply that the person who is or isn’t afraid of dying, has some choice in how they feel when confronted with the possibility. And that’s a problem, because feelings of fear aren’t generally something people can control. They are either afraid of something or they are not. Some people jump out of their skin if they catch sight of a spider, others calmly squash it without a second thought. What’s the difference?

Clearly there is no scientific evidence to support any theory, but it would seem that the real reason is because some people are born as reactionaries, while some are not. This can be seen when you consider that the people who are afraid of spiders, are quite often the same people who are afraid of death which means that any sudden stimulus that reminds them of something they are afraid of, causes them to feel sudden and instant fear. So, what this would mean is, that it’s not just that some people fear death more than others, it’s that some people just experience more fear in general than do other people, and fear of death is just included by default. That’s all.

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More about this author: Sam E. Jones

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