Scientists say that our brains protect us from thoughts about our imminent end. Research has shown that the brain evaluates death as an accident that is only a problem for other people, thereby protecting it from the existential fear that accompanies the notion of one’s own mortality.
“The brain does not recognize that death belongs to us,” says Yair Dor-Ziderman of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University. “When our minds receive information about our mortality, there is a fundamental mechanism in us that tells us: this is not reliable information, no Believe him. “
Avoiding thoughts of future death can even be crucial to our present well-being. This kind of self-defense begins to work in the early years of our lives as our minds begin to realize that death will sooner or later cause us all.
“From the moment we acquire the ability to predict our own future, we realize that we will someday fulfill and never change,” says Dor-Ziderman. “This goes against all of our biological essence, the primary purpose of which is to preserve our lives.”
To find out how the brain copes with thoughts of death, Dor-Ziderman and his colleagues developed a test that looked at the mechanism of the brain’s output of surprise signals.
Volunteers were asked to look at the screen for paused images while watching the brains of those people. The face of the volunteer on the screen or his watcher appeared several times or – a strange person. And at last the second look wore on. At the end of the image, the brain of the experimenters was surprised to find that the face actually displayed and predicted by the mind did not match.
On top of the faces on the screen, however, were different words. In half of the cases these words were related to death; For example, the words “burial” or “burial” were written. Scientists have found that every time a volunteer saw his face under the words above, his brain turned on a prediction mechanism; That is, he refused to associate himself with death.
Avi Goldstein, lead author of the study, said: “This suggests that the brain protects us from existential threats and the idea that our death is imminent. It either blocks the prognosis function or informs other people about their own mortality.”
As Dor-Ziderman points out, in the not-too-distant past, the system of thinking about death in our brains was counterbalanced by the reality in which humans were more often associated with death. According to him, society today is more prone to the death phobia caused by patients being hospitalized and the elderly in shelters for the elderly. As a result, he suspects that people are less aware of his death and perhaps that is why he is so afraid of it.
Arnaud Wisman, a psychologist at the University of Kent, says the human brain builds multiple defense systems to dispel thoughts of death. According to him, especially young people, death is a problem that only others face.
According to his co-authored research, modern society has fallen into so-called “mechanical slavery” because hard work, over-indulging in alcohol, scrutinizing a cell phone screen, and buying new-to-new stuff are so overwhelming that they don’t even have to worry about dying. “However, this is not the way to solve the problem itself,” says Wisman, “so we still need a mechanism for thinking about death.”