Why Some People Have Endless Thoughts of Death. They May Be 'Existentially Isolated'

livescience.com | 9/16/2019 | Stephanie Pappas - Live Science Contributor
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Feeling as though nobody gets you may be linked to persistent thoughts of death.

People who frequently feel alienated, isolated and misunderstood are more likely than others to have thoughts of death and dying swirling around in their minds, new research finds. It's not yet clear whether these feelings of isolation are the cause of these morbid thoughts, though there is some tantalizing evidence that they may be.

Experience - People - People - Experience - Time

"This is an experience that some people really have, and some people have this experience all the time," said Peter Helm, a graduate student in social psychology at the University of Arizona who led the study. "Unless we are studying it or even acknowledging it, we can't start to develop interventions for it."

What Happens When You Die?

Research - Field - Terror - Management - Humans

The new research builds on the field of terror management, which holds that humans construct careful barriers between themselves and their awareness of their mortality. Research supporting this theory has found that people reminded of death become more strongly attached to their values or cultural signifiers, perhaps as a way to find meaning in the face of their own mortality.

Helm and his colleagues were interested in exploring how a particular experience, that of existential isolation, might tie in with thoughts of death and mortality. Existential isolation is related to loneliness, but it's not the same thing, Helm told Live Science. Loneliness is a feeling of a lack of contact with others, whereas existential isolation is the feeling that other people just fundamentally don't understand you. Socializing while feeling existentially isolated can actually make the problem worse, Helm said.

Helm - Colleagues - Series - Studies - Isolation

Helm and his colleagues conducted a series of four studies to determine whether existential isolation is linked to thoughts of death. In the first two, the researchers asked college students (932 in the first study and 613...
(Excerpt) Read more at: livescience.com
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