Every human being has two different sides that ultimately play out at different parts of his lifetime to shape out his personality and welfare. These are the fearless and fearful sides. An individual can either develop high levels of esteem that would make him comfortable and devoid of threats, or could be full of fear and a threat in as far as death is concerned. Conventionally, a human being has three distinct stages in his life that he has to pass through at one point in time. These have been widely classified as birth, life and death.
The last two stages are the most expressed in as far human terror is concerned. By this I mean that an individual develops most of his fears with regards to these two stages. Clearly, any fears harbored by individuals are influenced by the various psychological aspects that control any human being. Therefore, the psychological theory and the terror management theory are intertwined in the explanation of how a human being develops and relates to various aspects and instances that characterize their lives. While the psychological theories tend to expound on the life stage of human beings, the theories of terror management tend to reflect more on how human beings deal with situations that touch on the last stage of their lives; death.
While it is a common sighting for individuals to develop alternative mechanisms to deal with issues that deal with their lives, it is a very different situation in the event issues touching on their death arise. Generally, there is a state of paranoia that tends to crop up when matters that relate to death are brought to the fore. This brings us to the big question: What is terror management? Man’s cognitive ability in as far as the impermanent nature of life is concerned helps to create the notion behind the terror management process (Sigmund, 2008). Various theories have been enhanced in a bid to explain what this process means to individuals. Most researchers mostly drawn from the field of psychology tend to come to an agreement in as far as this matter is concerned. They tend to support the fact that human beings generally tend to exhibit vulnerability in the face of mortality or death. For this reason every individual will always use every resource within their power to try to fight off any factors that would in one way or another lead to these situations. It is a worldwide known fact that every individual will always try to promote only those activities that tend to make them feel nice. Any other factors that would lead to an alter situation being generated is always put out. Comfort is one key condition that every rational man always craves for. Therefore, any conditions that would tend to result into discomfort on an individual’s part are not allowed to breed.
Since various difficult situations occur to different persons at different times, this state of panic tends to grip persons at individual levels. Therefore, terror management is basically an individual thing. Most people tend to experience different conditions that would create discomfort in one way or another so every solution to problems tends to lie with the individuals (Harmond-Jones, 2006). Further, it has been noted that the awareness of one’s death otherwise known as mortality salience, completely interferes with ones thinking capacity such tat an individual’s decision making capacity is tampered with totally. This individual aspect in as far as fighting off mortality salience is concerned brings us to the issue of groups in as far as immortality is concerned. Every individual nurses his or her own fears but then groupings could prove critical in helping such situations. A good example is the community and its role in helping individuals out of their paranoia.
An individual’s self esteem defines a person very appropriately. This is to say, self esteems are developed considering the various forces that play out in the settings that people stay in. People tend to develop their self esteems in environments that prove most favorable to them. The courage hat such individuals wield helps to create higher senses of esteem that actually put them in their comfort zones. However, the thought of death at some point in their lives tend to make even the strongest individuals with the highest esteems to be vulnerable. At times personal solutions cannot be found and this is where a large group such as the community or the society steps in to save the blushes.
A community helps to create anxiety buffer zones and restoration of levels of comfort to individuals through the cultural teachings that it offers its members. In the former case, the society through its culturally affiliated sections tends to help individuals create anxiety buffers. These are mortality immune situations whereby the individuals tend to believe on the ideologies precipitated by the cultural systems that communities or societies have in place. In this situation, an individual tends to acquire societal teachings that in one way or another tend to create situations that transcend the mortality ideologies thus helping them to exist in conditions devoid of any threats. To most individuals therefore, conforming to the societal teaching leads to creation of standards that subsequently lead to attainment of symbolic or literal immortality. This helps to inflate their esteems thereby shadowing the idea that defines mortality.
The society also helps individuals to create world views that help them in broadening their perceptions in as far as mortality related issues are concerned. Of specific interest is the creation of religious world views. For instance the religious teachings brought to the fore by various standard doctrines that define the society tend to create safer situations for individuals. These doctrines would be creations of religious systems that make up the society. Through writings like the Bible and the Koran, doctrines have influenced individuals into believing that there are better places in the afterlife that project the idea of immortality satisfactorily. These places include heaven for instance. Though the society or the community would represent a very large group of people, by and large the effects that it has had on individuals on matters concerning death are equated in every aspect to the effects that would result from any ordinary group.
Apart from these societal inputs, we must also realize that problems shared are problems solved. This is to mean that individuals are generally faced with various threats in life that always tend to expose their vulnerability. However diverse they could be, there is always one issue that seems to bring every one into level grounds: mortality salience. The thought of death disturbs everyone and so this is where the group issue could come in handy. ‘Since most if not all live with the fear that mortality salience presents, everyone should take it upon himself to encourage the other so as to lessen situations of vulnerability’. Groups offer opportunities for problems to be solved either partly or amicably thereby reducing considerably the threat caused by the thought of death. Individuals in these groupings could indulge in activities that would generate ideas to transcend this rather sticky mortality issue.
Lastly, empirical testing on the effects of mortality salience clearly depicts this picture of group importance. Research carried out to ascertain the effectiveness of these two situations; individualism and collectiveness has proven that collectiveness has far greater successful impacts when applied in the case of mortality salience. This is because collectivism greatly moderates the effects of mortality salience. A point worth noting is the fact that due to diverse interests playing out in the society that we live in, interests are bound to grow in a bid to secure comfort. For this reason, individuals will tend to align themselves to those who can boldly stand out to protect their interests in so doing they form groupings that eventually help them to cope with their problems.
Without a doubt, terror management has found its application in various sectors such that it is clearly taking its toll in every decision making. A classic example is the fact that court judges in their rulings tend to weigh in on the aspect of death and the effects such rulings could cause to individuals especially in regions where death penalties are involved.
The process of terror management has been proven to be successful when looked at as a group rather than an individual thing. These bases upon the in-group bias idea that tends to accelerate in the event a threat is noticed (Happé, 1995). One thing worth noting again is the fact that terror management is a process that deals entirely with the social behavior of humans entirely so that the response that humans exhibit when faced with difficult or threatening circumstances depend so much on their emotional, psychological and social composition. Due to this, more researches have been carried out to paint the picture of what really happens to other social aspects such as agitation, depression, political alignments, group identity, relations of human nature, disgust psychopathology among others that characterize the composition of human beings in as far as mortality salience is concerned.