Is There a Worst Way to Die?


Should I lose this match, what method of death would be least painful?

Is there a worst way to die? Thanatologists (those who study human death) say that the question is purely subjective and depends on the individual. The people at “How Stuff Works” take a look at the question: Is there a worst way to die?

Being splashed in sulphuric acid is a nasty way to go, that’s for sure. However, I’d like to quote one part of the article to get you thinking about your mortality in the grand scheme of things:

A century ago, a person with cancer would die. A person with access to today’s medical technology has a much better chance to live. In this manner, some have come to see medicine as a way to cheat death, and rather than confront the fact that they will die one day, they look instead to medicine to save them from their inevitable fates.

This is what the psychologist Ernest Becker considered a distraction. Becker won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for his book, “Denial of Death.” It was Becker’s opinion that culture at large served to distract all of us from our impending deaths. It’s as if we are all on the same roller coaster, chugging slowly up toward the tallest hill. At the crest is death, and every one of us will eventually make it to that crest. Culture in this metaphor is a set of giant televisions on each side of the coaster tracks, which some people choose to watch rather than look up toward the top of the hill and consider what’s beyond the hill.

But although some allow themselves to be distracted, we are all unconsciously fully aware of our finite time here on Earth. In Becker’s opinion, this causes feelings of anxiety and woe and is expressed through aggressive acts like invasions and wars.

Becker’s field of study — referred to as the psychology of death — does suggest a worst way to die. Since culture has the potential to distract us from confronting death, it can lead us to waste our lives. The worst type of death, according to Becker’s theory, would be one that followed an insignificant life.

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One Response to Is There a Worst Way to Die?

  1. […] all the budding thanatologists who read the entry “Is there a worst way to die?” you might wanna consider the prospect of throwing yourself under a subway […]

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