Terror management theory

Terror Management Theory

Just gonna read a little bit. There’s a theory called the Terror Management Theory. I just want to read a little bit, kind of coming off the back of the death urge, which we were doing yesterday. But also it’s gonna help you level 2 guys kind of tap into some stuff as well.

So the Terror Management theory is a combination of social psychology and existentialism. The theory proposes that innate annihilation anxiety, combined with the human knowledge of the inevitability of death, creates an ever-present potential for terror. So that’s kind of in us all the time. So it’s a really good opportunity, when you tune into that, to kind of drop in in your breathe to where you hold that in your body. Because it does control us, every single day of our lives, that potentiality for terror, particularly at the moment. So you guys might be a little more in touch with that terror that’s (?) than you ever have probably before in your whole life. None of us have ever been through the potential of what’s going on at the moment. 

So there’s a whole study on Terror Management theory which I have somewhere. So just read a little bit about it. Three psychologists, I won’t say their names, formulated the hypothesis of the Terror Management Theory following an analysis of Ernest Becker’s ‘The Denial of Death’. The Terror Management Theory hypothesises that fear of death takes central stage in our subconscious. We have evolved mechanisms to suppress this fear. And not only is society a construct of this dread of death, but our private and individual lives and motives for living are driven by these unconscious fears. 

Human beings deal with the knowledge that they will some day die, by maintaining a strong believe in their cultural world view. That faith provides meaning to their lives in the sense that their individual lives matter, as well as the promise of symbolic or literal immortality if they uphold it. When people are reminded of their inevitable death, they will not only cling more forcefully to their cultural norms, and viewpoints that provide them with self-esteem and continuity, but they will actively respond intolerantly to others outside their cultural and individual norms. In other words, being reminded of their inevitable death makes people treat outsiders with less of the milk of human kindness

So that’s what we’re all gonna be facing when we go back out there in the world, is people’s death urges coming up. So the more that we clear ours, the more that we’ll be able to hold our own centre in that, and have compassion and know what people are doing and not buy into it.

 This theory certainly gives credence in the light of what happened in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. In the chapter ‘Religious Trauma’ I have written about the Punishable Object syndrome. The Punishable Object is a person or persons, or value system, who or that are objectified or remote from their part of society and their normal existence…or is a person or value system that does not boost their esteem or bolster and uphold their values. I know this is probably not making sense right now, it will. 

The Punishable Object is a person or value system that is substituted from the unconscious desire to punish God for inventing death. This person or other system of values makes the perfect scapegoat for emerging rage against a punishing God. A punishing God is the God that created death. Since we cannot punish that which is by its very nature abstract, nebulous, inaccessible yet omnipresent, we are powerless to extract revenge. Much of this syndrome used to be relegated to the shades of Satan. Satan is at once the perfect scapegoat, and the opposite of God. Satan is evil. 

Religious trauma states that people have rage against the punishing God, and are yet afraid to speak out against him for fear that he will kill them quicker. And that kind of is the same thing that you’ll feel when you’re asked to rage against your parents. So it’s the same energy is that you’re protecting the good, you know. 

Religious trauma states that people have rage against the punishing God yet are afraid to speak out against him for fear that he will kill them quicker. Hence the invention of Satan. People could then put their rage in the mouth of Satan. He, Satan, could scream obscenities at God while the innocent holy roller looked on in shocked disbelief. One interesting thing about Satan is that he is immortal. Old and contemporary religions have a few flaws. Today’s politics are a response to the ever-present fear of terrorism, which is resulting in people today being more psychologically vulnerable than earlier generations. This psychological vulnerability causes subtle awareness of death. So the Punishable Object…anyone who’s ever been bullied at school has experienced being the Punishable Object. Anyone of any colour, race, religious belief system that is not of the normal will have experienced being the Punishable Object. And this all comes from death urge. 

In order to engender a form of symbolic immortality, human beings align themselves to larger-than-life heroes in the form of movies, sports stars, sporting teams and other cultural heroes. This explains, to a large degree, the ludicrous insistence from some Elvis fans that he’s still alive. The Terror Management response is the frail organism’s attempt to cling narcissistically to the buffers it has built to outwit death. 

It’s so interesting the Terror Management theory, and it goes on. And the reason I’m reading this is because I want to give you guys the opportunity in your breathes to go into it, to really purge the terror. Because if we don’t purge it consciously, it can be guaranteed that life will put us in situations where it comes up. As Pauline says in this, we are psychologically a lot more vulnerable because of what continually goes on in the world. Because of what we’re facing, and all of the access to social media, we have so much access to what’s going on around the world. We’re, at the moment, a lot more psychologically vulnerable. So much, much, much better to be doing it in an environment like this.