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Man's fear of death and the meaning of life
Human thought has always tried to penetrate into the unknown and mysterious, but nevertheless the most incomprehensible phenomenon for man was and remains death, which frightens the uncertainty of experience and at the same time the accuracy of knowledge about its inevitability. The relation of mankind to death can serve as an indicator of the level of development of civilization.
The concept of death plays a significant role in a person’s realization of his forces, abilities, resources, therefore this phenomenon must be taken into account in the discussion of the problem of the meaning of life. Here, a person’s attitude to death and acceptance of the fact that life and death are a single whole must be determined.
The problem of death, the severity of the relationship to it as litmus paper is highlighted, according to M.M. Fedorova (1998), how much they respect death and the deceased in society, people are so much valued as a valuable individual, not only for their loved ones, but also for the state as a whole.
At present, the problem of life and death in psychology is represented quite widely. There are four areas of research:
1) the study of the psychology of terminally ill patients (patients with terminal cancer, mortally wounded, dying) and ways of psychological assistance to them (A.V. Gnezdilov, K. and S. Grof, S. Levin, J. Halifax and others); death for such people is either an enemy or a deliverer from suffering and pain;
2) the study of the causes of suicide and suicidal behavior, the conditions preceding them, as well as possible directions for the prevention of suicide (A.G. Abrumova, A.V. Boenako, A.V. Marov, Yu.M. Lyakh, etc.);
3) the study of the relationship and perception of death, as well as their changes in different age periods (F. Dolto, A.I. Zakharov, D.A. Isaev, I.S. Kon and others);
4) the study of the memories of people who have experienced dying as a result of clinical death (B. Grayson, A.P. Lavrin, R. Moody, A. Ford, B. Harrisidr.).
However, such an interested attitude to the problems of human life and personality experiences did not always prevail in psychology. The attitude to the two greatest foundations of the existence of all living things - life and death - has changed in psychological science in accordance with its own growth and development. Psychology at the beginning of the 20th century seized from the hands of philosophy the image of death, which by that time had become frightening, rejected, and completely separated from life. Such an attitude was expressed in the insufficient elaboration of the topic of death in the first psychological concepts - behaviorism and psychoanalysis.
In American psychotherapeutic practice, the 70s of the last century were marked by the fact that the problem of the finiteness of human being began to be discussed a little. According to the famous psychotherapist I. Yalom, when in 1973 he started conducting therapeutic groups with terminally ill people, a broad discussion of working with such patients was unthinkable: “death was severely censored along with pornography” (Yal, 2002, p. 449). Such bashful silence of this side of life only symbolized the existential fear of this phenomenon, and this, in turn, gave rise to the tradition of silence about this fact of human being. Such silence is a domestic psychologist at. Fomin (2001) explains that death in society is often authorized. Religion and the state punished a person for misconduct, depriving him of his life, and then the fear of death became a social category.
Currently, the situation has begun to change - the problem of fear of death is being studied not only by philosophers, but also by physicians, biologists, ethnographers, archaeologists and even physicists. Apparently, a close attitude to this phenomenon can be explained not only by idle curiosity, but also by the fact that a person is unconsciously driven by the desire to reduce his neurotic reaction of anxiety to the finiteness of his own life. Such an attitude is quite understandable, since often a person’s idea of the end of life is associated with terminal states, pain, accompanying him. This is also accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame for our own helplessness in the face of death, the chagrin that the world around us is infinite, while human life is finite.
The listed emotional states, accumulating, form an unconscious affective complex, so fears of dying are often associated with internal stress, mental disharmony, and even the loss of the meaning of life. Fear of death can lead a person to paradoxical intention and have a latent character, trans-forming into various kinds of deviations, and thereby bring the end of being closer. N. Pezishkian (1995) regards the desire to die as a special relation to death - as a rule, this is a flight reaction. Evidence of this can serve as depression, alcoholism, drug addiction. Such a reaction occurs when a person becomes convinced of the impossibility of returning the time of merging with caring parents and again experiencing a feeling of absolute spiritual comfort. This mechanism of psychological defense is quite fully described in gestalt therapy in association with Freudian behavioral regression, which is “turned on” due to the immaturity of the personality, its infantilism.
According to the Security Council. Vaisova, a teenager, depending on super-caring parents, exists in inextricable unity with their desires and feelings. Maternal and / or paternal hyper-custody do not give an individual the opportunity to realize and identify his most urgent needs for their subsequent satisfaction, and then he turns to the usual patterns of behavior - he returns to psycho-emotional dependence on his mother. A person is not able to delimit his own experiences and evaluate his words and actions, he is internally dissolved in his feelings and desires. Outwardly, this may be manifested in the fact that the individual identifies himself with a drug and alcohol addiction environment. Such deviant forms of behavior are also an angry reaction against the overwhelming mother or father, the desire to revolt against their care, advice, an unconscious desire to run away and become oneself. It is well known that the largest number of suicides is demonstrative in nature - they conceal an ambivalent desire to live and children's fear of the unknown end of life. And if it is impossible to physically leave, a person turns to improvised means - alcohol and drugs. Specialists working with drug addicts say that addiction is a long-term suicide (Vaysov, 2000).
The manifestation of suicidal behavior by the American psychotherapist A. Lowen (1999) also included the desire to realize the desire to escape from mortality of the body, following various kinds of diets. In our culture, youth is considered the first value, and excess weight is associated with the idea of obesity and bodily destruction. It should be noted here that we are talking about not completely mentally prosperous people, since emotional health does not imply extremes in actions.
Fear of death, a person is able to veil and all sorts of projections, reflected in speech, behavior, lifestyle. For example, adults, as a rule, following the norms developed by society, seek to hide the death of loved ones from children. People try to isolate her in the walls of the hospital, morgues. Here, in addition to sanitary and epidemiological considerations, there is a desire for living to distance themselves from such mournful places. But there is an opposite attitude towards the end of life, when a person feels the desire to deacralize death, in every possible way mentioning it in an ironic manner. An example of this is the so-called black humor, typical jokes of surgeons about abdominal operations, thereby weakening the emotional stress caused by the awareness of the fragility of human life.
Speaking about the human perception of the finiteness of being, it is necessary to note the importance of actively working out the fact of death in order to overcome neurotic reactions at its mention. This is possible through the rational study of this topic by the methods of logotherapy, positive psychotherapy, conducting conversations and philosophical reflection on this phenomenon. Any emotional reaction, even if negative, can contain not only destructive, but constructive tendencies. Finding the latter is the task of a mature, responsible person.
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Man's fear of death and the meaning of life
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