The role of psychology in irreversible processes: 5 attitudes towards death

Undeniably, in many fields in which the professional of psychology participates, phenomena related to loss process. When the loss becomes irreversible, such as in the event of death, the psychologist seeks to know how to respond to the consequent emotional demands of the environment. There are many areas where this type of phenomenon occurs.

For example, a psychologist specializing in gerontological care will be exposed to the death of elderly people on an ongoing basis and his duty is to know how to respond to requests from relatives and to have the resources to face his own death. Even more evident in hospital oncology units, care in bereavement processes or psychological intervention in emergencies and disasters, among others. However, what are the most common attitudes towards death and agony?

Five attitudes towards death

According to Concepción Poch, in his book La Mort (Editorial UOC, 2008), there is five “classic” ways of approaching the phenomenon of death.

1. Denial

First, denial or indifference, Which consists in avoiding as much as possible the presence of death, even reflection on it, living as if it did not exist. This common attitude of treating death as a taboo subject is a common practice in Western culture.

2. Provocative attitude

Second, there are people who they approach death omnipotently and defiantly, Which would colloquially mean “play your life”. We live as if we are never going to die and we consciously expose ourselves to the phenomenon. The common thought among these types of people is usually “this won’t happen to me”.

3. Anxiety

Third, fear and anguish. People who log on from this attitude acquire a pessimistic and desperate cognitive style about life and tend to repeat questions related to the uncertain nature of the parka: “What is the meaning of life and death? ” “How and when am I going to die?”

As Concepció Poch (2008) puts it, some psychologists materialize the fear of death in very human experiences: regretting not having completed projects, not accepting the end of one’s own temporary existence, fear of illness or dying with it. suffering and physical pain. It is also true that death is frightening because it does not respond to any of the unknowns it raises, What will happen next? Is there life beyond death?

4. Release

A fourth approach to death would be from the point of view of release or relief. Freeing the body and mind from a painful, dependent or routine existence is the horizon that some people aspire to reach. In this sense, they often generate controversies of opinion on debates on euthanasia or suicide, for example.

5. Acceptance

Perhaps, the approach or the healthiest attitude is that of realism and acceptance. The resigned and realistic attitude has a pragmatic character that accepts death as a radical and genuine reality. In this sense, being aware of the finite character of the human being, and not of a tragic point of view, teaches us to value life and, above all, the negative ups and downs and twists of fate that death brings. . Death educates us as the primary agent of change in our lives. According to Raffaele Mantegazza (2006), in order to be able to speak seriously about death, one must learn to die.

How many people do we know who have changed their lifestyle after going through a near death experience? Why do we usually wait until death to achieve the important things in life? As one college classmate put it, “We are preparing for everything but the most important thing.” If, for example, the death of loved ones frequently breaks into the trajectory of life …

Why don’t we learn to understand these processes? Why don’t we put the will to accept death? Why do we continue to deny it and “avoid” it? The psychologist has an interesting plot where to continue to develop his skills to help people … What are we waiting for?

Bibliographical references:

  • Mantegazza, R., (2006). Death without a mask. Barcelona. Editorial Herder
  • Poch, C., (2008). Dead. Barcelona. UOC Editorial

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