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:5/30/2016)... ... May 30, 2016 , ... ... Shaolin warrior 8-day-8 and 8-night special intensive summer training camp starts on June ... summer camp offers families and children a fun and unique experience with an ...
(Date:5/29/2016)... ... May 29, 2016 , ... Whole Health Supply is ... new KlipPro KP-240L clipper is available to the public. This is an unusual clipper ... wider than the average clipper. , Everything about this product is concentrated on ease ...
(Date:5/28/2016)... ... May 28, 2016 , ... "Color Grading media can ... drop a preset onto their media," said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film ... can quickly and easily add stylish color grades to their footage. A LUT is ...
(Date:5/28/2016)... ... ... of the city where’s it’s easy to spot the neon lights of chains serving fast ... diners with a taste for real food. , On May 13, the Best ... urban casual restaurant focusing on dishes made by hand with wholesome, organic ingredients that are ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Two director-level employees of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of ... 2016 honorees. The award recognizes businesswomen who excel in their fields and who ... the MLTSS (Managed Long-Term Services and Supports) Program at Horizon NJ Health and Theresa ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/26/2016)... May 26, 2016 Since its ... into an essential life science tool for conducting genetic ... BCC Research reveals in its new report that the ... phase, one powered by a range of new applications ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140723/694805 ) , ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... GERMANTOWN, Maryland , May 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... dringenden Bedarf zur Steuerung ... N.V. (NASDAQ: QGEN ; Frankfurt Prime ... Entwicklungsvereinbarung mit Therawis Diagnostics GmbH zur Entwicklung und ... sein. Ein erstes Projekt wird die Entwicklung und ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... , May 25, 2016  According to Kalorama Information, ... billion in 2015.  Though these are challenging times ... opportunity for success for companies that remain optimistic ... of new growth prospects medical device companies spend ... and development (R&D) than do companies in other ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: