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Terror Of Death Essay

1045 words - 5 pages

The Terror of Death: Nature vs. Nurture

The terror of death is a common feeling people experience. The cause of this fear is arguably due to nature or nurture depending on your perspective and experiences. Scholars Ernest Becker and Antonio Gualtieri discuss death and where it originates and its causes. There are psychological components which create a terror of death, such as development from an early age. The way in which a child is raised is also believed to greatly impact their relationship with death. The terror which originates throughout one’s life depends on many factors, such as personal experience. The terror of death stems from two main components: nature and nurture, and ...view middle of the document...

Gualtieri writes that “axiological presense means that death, normally experienced as disvalue, paradoxically acheives a certain positive valuation in the light of its capacity to generate commitment to supreme value” (Gualtieri, 1984, 169). He argues that death is present in our lives in three modes, existential anxiety, death-anxiety, and axiologically. Gualitieri’s explanation of the axiological aspects of death makes the reader aware of what matters in life and also the crucial element of time, and our eventual mortality. He also infers that “not death, but the dread of death is the punishment for sin (Gualtieri, 1984, 171).
In contrast, Zilboorg’s argument that “this fear is actually an expression of the instinct of self-preservation which functions as a constant drive to maintain life and to master the dangers that threaten life” supports the nature side of this argument. Interestingly, this creates a reaction in society to put forth an effort to fight off disintegration. Becker further supports the necessity of this terror, since he believes it “must be present behind all our normal functioning in order for the organism to be armed toward self-preservation”. Although the terror of death causes us to act, as if it were all we thought about, we would not be able to function without it (Becker, 1973). People are motivated by many things, and make choices based on experiences and desires. If death is seen as major threat then this unconsciously influences their life.
Naturally, a healthy-mindedness is believed to exist in the early stages of life. Negative experiences in the environment can shift this and create psychological issues related to the terror of death. Beliefs of mortality and understandings of religions create different paths for people to follow, each with his or her own sense of fate. Similarly, on page 172 Gualitieri says that “the emergence of death anxiety is the consequence of estrangement, both from the creator and the human community” and he argues that “one of the major constituents of the dread of death is the rupture of the human relation” (Gualitieri,...

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