An article in The Atlantic on May 4th, written by Hans Villarica, entitled “How the Unrelenting Threat of Death Shapes Our Behavior,” explores studies on the everyday influence the fear of death has on us. The researchers who are conducting these studies are behind the influential “terror management theory” (TMT), which emphasizes all the more how “deadly” this fear is. Much of The Last Frontier is dedicated to describing this fear and its effects, but the author of the Atlantic article uncovered a few not even I had thought about. Studies were first conducted on judges and prostitutes!
Here is a sprinkling of things that the fear of death influences:
prejudice, intergroup conflict, terrorism, aggression, achievement, risk taking, art, creativity, sex and other bodily activities (such as what sunscreen you use), health-related lifestyle choices, cancer prevention, mental health, marketing, consumerism, robotics, environmentalism, legal decisions, patriotism, politics and political choices, romantic relationships, parenting and religious beliefs.
The conclusion is that the way we respond to death, that is on the fear scale from 0 to 10, effects every moment of our lives, a view I wholeheartedly support. What this study does not do, and what I do do in The Last Frontier, is discuss the beneficial changes that take place when that fear is put to rest. I also tell you how to get rid of this fear which not only keeps us from truly living but also turns dying into a nightmare.
Still, for those interested, the article is well worth the read. Click here.