Cheating Death

The spontaneous surge of thoughts, and the sudden realization of the connection of thread of things really surprise me. It’s in these few moments that my deep appreciation of knowledge goes in heights because I was able to make sense of the things that I was studying. I was reading David Myers’ Social Psychology (well in truth I was actually cramming for exams) when I encountered another term, one which actually appeared in the exams, that sparked my interest.

It was in the book’s chapter expounding on the topic of prejudice, terror management, a term coined by social psychologists that states the higher probability of people’s inclination to attitudes of racial prejudice when they are reminded of their own mortality. According to Myers, there is also a tendency for an individual to be biased, or become in favor of, the particular group he or she belongs in (a certain race, age group, color of skin, etc.). This ingroup bias often occurs when his/her identification within the group the individual belongs to, outweighs his/her personal identity, or his/her identification with himself/herself.

Intuitively, this made me think that individuality should be developed more for people to avoid such prejudices (e.g. ingroup bias). If you learn to get a hold of yourself first and strengthen your identity with yourself before identifying yourself to others (especially to people you consider as “ingroups”), then such prejudicial acts might be lessened.

Hence, learning to identify with yourself first (the “personal identity” of your self-concept) is very important. If the thought of death has become a tick that triggers people to incline on prejudicial attitudes, then accepting the inevitability of death is also important; death should not be feared.

Our fears (often strongly) fuel our frustrations, and our frustrations trigger our Death Instincts. Death instinct is a Freudian concept, which is a primitive urge opposite of life instincts, it literally “brings us closer to death” through its manifestations. These manifestations include aggressive acts such as inflicting pain (not necessarily on ourselves, it also applies when we do it to others as well). The manifestation of death instincts agrees with Frustration-Aggression Theory, a theory which states that frustrations motivate acts of aggression.

This brought me then to a conclusion that stopped me short in my review, and made me furiously type my thoughts down on my laptop as soon as I could before it slips away my mind.

You see, it’s quite paradoxical, because if we start to stop fearing death, it eventually lessens our frustrations about it.

And since frustration often is channeled out through aggression (a manifestation of our death instinct), manifestations of our death instincts decreases as well. I think the only way to escape death, is to accept the inevitability of it.

Of course natural circumstances such as death from old age, an illness, or unstoppable occurrences such as accidents are generally inescapable. I mean, I can’t imagine myself being able to literally escape death in a car accident, by philosophizing it at that moment. If you bluntly put it, everyone has an expiration date. It’s just that, we can actually save ourselves some of the fuss of the indirect manifestations this boggling (and sometimes terrifying) idea of our mortality make.

Come to think about it.

After the moment I realized this, I stopped and only returned to where I left in my book for after about five minutes LOL. These kind of moments make my all-nighters less boring.


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