The Real Reason You’re Afraid Of Death

A 2019 Statista report found that a staggering 42% of Americans were generally either “very afraid” or “somewhat afraid” of death. It’s no wonder then that there’s an entire field of study devoted to the psychological impacts of death and dying, called thanatology (via Brittanica). Furthermore, physicians became interested in the fear aspect of dying, and an anxiety disorder dubbed thanatophobia emerged as its own area of study, particularly for palliative and hospice workers who commonly work closely with those who are dying. Note that thanatophobia is different from necrophobia, which is a fear of dead things (via Betterhelp).

Interestingly enough, physicians studying populations with a fear of dying found more than just fear to be the root cause of distress. In psychoanalysis, they also found patients to feel sadness at the prospect of leaving family members behind, and depression over having to leave the world. While the former impacted one’s sense of ego integrity, the latter induced a sense of despair, with the individual teetering between both of these psychological impacts during times of distress, via Journal of Natural Science Biology and Medicine. The journal also states that an overwhelming fear of death may arise from trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other mental or physical health diagnosis.

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