Magazine article Psychology Today

Don't Fear the Reaper

Magazine article Psychology Today

Don't Fear the Reaper

Article excerpt

THE DREAD THAT COMES WITH AGE MAY GUIDE YOUR EVERYDAY CHOICES-FOR BETTER OR WORSE.

TERRIFIED OF DYING? You and just about everyone else who has spent some time on the planet. Beyond instilling fear, however, an awareness that the end is inevitable can have a profound impact on our lives. "Our efforts to transcend death have led to some of the greatest pursuits of mankind, and some of the worst," says Sheldon Solomon, a co-author with Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski of The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life. The trio of psychologists spearheaded the theory of "terror management" and has for three decades explored the ways in which people respond totheirfearof dying. By better understanding these responses, they and their colleagues argue, we can achieve both social progress and personal growth.

-Jacquie Itsines

Lesson 1 THERE'S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO LIVE FOREVER

Death can be paralyzingly scary, but according to the researchers, our systems of belief counter the fear by giving us a sense that our lives will transcend our physical expiration date: in the afterlife, in the next life, or, more symbolically, through our work, offspring, or the memories of others. When we're reminded that we'll eventually die, experiments suggest, we cling to our worldviews more closely-and act more negatively toward people of other faiths or cultures, whose values we perceive as challenging our own. …

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