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:3/30/2017)... Irvine, CA (PRWEB) , ... March 30, 2017 , ... ... skin cancer concerns, equally as many are wary of baring their skin for other ... care specialists at West Dermatology can help get the skin prepared for the summer ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... ... March 30, 2017 , ... ... of Autism Awareness Month, representatives from Organic Consumers Association, National Health Freedom Action, ... Health Foundation, A Voice for Choice, Moms Across America, Freedom and Ethics Alliance ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... ... March 30, 2017 , ... This ... to President Trump expressing their support for an independent Vaccine Safety Commission. Five ... and one medical journalist, will hold a press conference at 9:00 AM ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... March 29, 2017 , ... ... and women’s professional squash, announced it has enlisted New York City-based sports and ... agency will develop and procure sponsorship opportunities for the Professional Squash Association (PSA), ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... ... March 30, 2017 , ... Youth Futures International (YFI) premiered its Serve, ... high school and college students who have participated in the program every summer. ... is now accepting applications for enrollment. Visit http://www.ghana.yfiexperience.org to learn more. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:3/29/2017)...  Bodycad announced today that it has received ... for its Bodycad Unicompartmental Knee System, enabling the ... Bodycad is the first Canadian company to receive ... Bodycad,s revolutionary Unicompartmental Knee System ... patient,s unique anatomical features and kinematics. The system ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... 29, 2017 Research and Markets has announced ... report to their offering. ... The global energy-based aesthetic devices market to grow ... The report, Global Energy-Based Aesthetic Devices Market 2017-2021, has been ... experts. The report covers the market landscape and its growth prospects ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... 29, 2017 Global intravenous (IV) iron and oral ... 2021, growing at a CAGR of 5%. ... doctor to treat anemia or other iron deficiencies. Oral iron ... body. However, in some cases, oral administrations are not capable ... (IV) iron therapy comes into the picture. Global ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: