The Death Fear is lessoned by killing another


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The Death Fear is lessoned by killing another

How can we, the “man on the street”, Tom & Jane, gain an insight into the meaning of this dread of death? A dread so strong that we kill to prevent that death and that we are so dedicated to repressing that dread that many things we do is done in that behalf.

I suspect most of us have experienced the feeling we call ‘claustrophobia’. I have experienced that feeling and I am confident that I would do almost anything to stop that experience. I suspect that it was the dread of death that caused the inmates of the Nazi concentration camps to tolerate such terror as daily existence must have been.

I suspect that dread of death is the reason that ‘water-boarding’ is such a popular form of torture. Torture is, I suspect, an effort to induce that same dread that we experience in a claustrophobic episode. I think that we might properly use the metaphor ‘dread of death is claustrophobia’ or perhaps ‘dread of death is water-boarding’.

The ‘curse’ is anything that lies about the creatureliness of wo/man. Any effort to make a lofty spiritual character out of sapiens represents an ‘occultism’, i.e. an ‘occult’ is anything that attempts to make supernatural the creatureliness of humans, which is the constant preoccupation of human society.

Jung and Adler recognized from the beginning that Freud was wrong in his dogmatic insistence regarding wo/man’s innate instincts of sexuality and aggression; however, they also recognized that Freud had correctly diagnosed and emphasized wo/man’s creatureliness.

Freud “reflected the true intuitions of genius, even though the particular intellectual counter-part of that emotion—the sexual theory—proved to be wrong. Man’s body was a “curse of fate”, and culture was built upon repression—not because man was a seeker only of sexuality, of pleasure, of life and expansiveness, as Freud thought, but because man was also primarily an avoider of death.”

Not sexuality, as Freud theorized, but the consciousness of death is the primary repression. Freud recognized the curse early and dedicated his life toward exposing it. However, he missed the correct scientific fact that was the source of the curse; this being the repression upon which society is constructed.

Becker theorizes that Freud’s mistake is reveled in one key idea, which emerged in his later writings. “Death instinct” was introduced by Freud in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”. This theory was an attempt to patch up his libido theory, which he was very reluctant to reject. The death instinct was “a built in urge toward death as well as toward life”. He theorized that the death instinct was an instinctive urge to die, which was redirected outward into the desire to kill. Wo/man defeats this instinct by killing others.

Psychology has rejected Freud’s death instinct theory for a simpler one. Killing represents a symbolic solution that results from a fusion of animal anxiety with the death fear of the human animal. Rank says “the death fear of the ego is lessoned by the killing, the sacrifice, of the other; through the death of the other, one buys oneself free from the penalty of dying, of being killed.”

Churchill said something to the effect that “there is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at and missed”.

Quotes from “The Denial of Death”; Pulitzer Prize winner for nonfiction by Ernest Becker.