Overcoming the fear of death - Discussion

This text is a follow-up to Overcoming the Fear of Death, but can be read as a stand-alone document.

Mail, extract made anonymous

Post-traumatic stress

It just so happens that one of my relatives was attacked a few weeks ago. He felt weak, ashamed and guilty and is now turning in an extreme way to the Catholic religion (having grown up in a Catholic family, he never questioned his faith but it had never had a big place in his life, never conditioned his thoughts, his every move). He expresses, as you mention, a great fear of death and hell (which obsesses him), convinced that he is not a good person and that he must constantly redeem himself in the eyes of God. He thinks he has opened his eyes and rediscovered life and death as a result of his aggression. He even tries to convince me despite the fact that I am an atheist.

Do you think it can just be a phase? Could it be the only thing he has found in order to get answers and to which he is trying to "hang on" following the trauma he has experienced? How to act in this kind of situation? How to help him, how to get him out of this mystical delirium? I am very worried about him.


Your message aroused my interest because it raises an interesting but difficult question.

It is impossible to have a discussion on a rational basis with someone who is under emotional strain. In my opinion, one should avoid taking the discussion to the religious level, as any effort to do so will prove ineffective or even counterproductive.

All attention should be focused not on the symptoms, but on the causes, i.e. on how to reduce the feeling of fear. In this case, it is the result of a trauma caused by an aggression.

I suggest you do a search on the internet by writing

post-traumatic stress

in the search field.

Usual therapeutic methods of a psychological nature have only limited effectiveness. A new, more effective treatment exists, and it consists of the following: under medication, the patient recalls the traumatic event. In a few sessions, typically six, the memory of the traumatic event disconnects from the centre of emotionality and ceases to be disturbing.

Any approach, whether spiritual or psychological, requires the cooperation of the person concerned. The influence of someone close to him or her and whom he or she trusts could be decisive in convincing him or her to enter therapy. As a starting point, one can start from his feelings of unease.

Another pitfall will be to find a centre that practises post-traumatic stress therapy.

I am not a specialist, and every case is different. Therefore, I limit myself to giving leads. I am aware that reality is complex and cannot easily be shaped to our liking.

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