Navigation Links
From terror to joy: faced with death, our minds turn to happier thoughts
Date:10/22/2007

Philosophers and scientists have long been interested in how the mind processes the inevitability of death, both cognitively and emotionally. One would expect, for example, that reminders of our mortality--say the sudden death of a loved one--would throw us into a state of disabling fear of the unknown. But that doesn't happen. If the prospect of death is so incomprehensible, why are we not trembling in a constant state of terror over this fact?

Psychologists have some ideas about how we cope with existential dread. One emerging idea--"terror management theory" --holds that the brain is hard-wired to keep us from being paralyzed by fear. According to this theory the brain allows us to think about dying, even to change the way we live our lives, but not cower in the corner, paralyzed by fear. The automatic, unconscious part of our brain in effect protects the conscious mind.

But how does this work? Psychologists Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky and Roy Baumeister of Florida State University ran three experiments to study existential dread in the laboratory. They prompted volunteers to think about what happens physically as they die and to imagine what it is like to be dead. It's the experimental equivalent of losing a loved one and ruminating about dying as a result.

Once the volunteers were preoccupied with thoughts of death and dying, they completed a series of word tests, which have been designed to tap into unconscious emotions. For example, volunteers might be asked to complete the word stem "jo_" to make a word. They could make a neutral word like job or jog, or they might instead opt for the emotional word joy. Or, in a similar test, they might see the word puppy flashed on a screen, and they would instantaneously have to choose either beetle or parade as the best match. Beetle is closer to puppy in meaning, but parade is closer to puppy in emotional content. The idea is that the results represent the unconscious mind at work.

The results, as reported in the November issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, are intriguing. The volunteers who were preoccupied with thoughts of death were not at all morose if you tapped into their emotional brains. Indeed, the opposite: they were much more likely than control subjects to summon up positive emotional associations rather than neutral or negative ones. What this suggests, the psychologists say, is that the brain is involuntarily searching out and activating pleasant, positive information from the memory banks in order to help the brain cope with an incomprehensible threat.


'/>"/>

Contact: Catherine West
cwest@psychologicalscience.org
202-783-2077
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Psychological consequence of terrorist attacks
2. Doctors May Not Be Ready To Tackle Bio-terrorism
3. US is unprepared for a bio-terrorist attack
4. Ricin Vaccine protection against bio-warfare and bioterrorism
5. Saving Infants From The Clutches Of Terror
6. India & Singapore Join hands to Fight Terror & Drug Trafficking
7. NIMH Grants Funds To Study The Impact Of Terrorism
8. A New drug Developed To Fight The Bio-Terrorism Threat Of VEE Virus
9. Tobacco Smugglers are Helping Terrorists: WHO
10. $ 8.1 Million Grant to Tackle Bioterrorism
11. Potential Threats of Bioterrorism
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... At Hallmark Nameplate, their ... that they have achieved certification to ISO 13485. This certification is another way they ... to date products and services that they need. , The ISO 13485 Certification is ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... The Hear the ... project with the donation of cochlear implants. In February 2017, the first three ... a fair chance of leading an independent life. This engagement builds on the ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 17, 2017 , ... January is National Stalking Awareness Month ... choose to lurk in the corners and commit the crime of stalking, a very real ... and addiction, an often overlooked factor in stalking and other crimes. , “Stalking: know it. ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... ... , ... For breast cancer clinicians and researchers who were unable to attend ... intimate review and analysis of its highlights, a novel half-day, complimentary meeting—the 14th Annual ... on February 4, 2017 in Chicago. Chaired by Kathy S. Albain, MD, FACP, FASCO ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... ... January 17, 2017 , ... Kevin Harrington (one of the original Sharks from ... campaigns regarding the topic of Beauty and Personal Care. , Everyone ... better way to commit to these changes than beginning with personal care and beauty ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:1/18/2017)... SAN DIEGO , Jan. 18, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... manufacturing solutions for cell and advanced therapies , ... the French biopharmaceutical company developing "tumor starvation" treatments ... unmet medical needs. Under the agreement, Invetech will ... products based on Erytech,s proprietary ERYCAPS technology platform, ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... January 18, 2017 After the recent ... the use of cannabis both for medical and recreational purposes ... Americans open to the use of cannabis, but the focus ... to Arcview Market Research, the North American legal cannabis market ... the previous year. The research projects sales will grow at ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... 2017 North America Insulin Delivery Market Outlook ... America Insulin Delivery Market Outlook to 2022", provides key ... The report provides value, in millions of US dollars, ... segments - Insulin Pens, Insulin Pumps, Insulin Syringes and ... company shares and distribution shares data for each of ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: