It is not uncommon for a person, at some point in their life, to wonder or worry about death. At the end of the day, the only thing we can be certain of is that after birth, there’s a natural end in death. It is normal to consider our fate, whether it’s because we have an illness, fear an illness, or are putting our affairs in order for when we are no longer here.
However, there is a small percentage of the population who suffer with death anxiety, known as thanatophobia. The term is taken from the Greek thanatos meaning death, and phobos, meaning fear. It was first mentioned in 1915 by Sigmund Freud who thought it may be related to an ‘unconscious’ belief in immortality. A feeling of separation, fear of dealing with a loss, and intense worry related to leaving loved ones behind can all contribute to extreme anxiety, especially when death appears inevitably accelerated.
If a fear is so prevalent and it affects your daily life, then it becomes appropriate to call it a phobia. Very few young children need to think about death: they are too busy exploring, learning and growing. However, I am shocked and saddened to discover that many young children under the age of seven are very aware and scared, of both their own death and that of their nearest and dearest relatives.
Once a fear is embedded into the psyche, it often remains and becomes pervasive. Remember the slogan ‘Don’t Kill Granny”? Trawling the internet offerings of peer-reviewed papers, I am struggling to find reference to death anxiety in young children. What has been a taboo subject appears to have almost infected and attacked the purest of innocence that only a young child can experience.
For many months, I have had the privilege of talking to many eminent professionals and experts. I have had many lengthy phone conversations with one doctor in particular, Dr Christian Buckland, Doctor of Psychology in Psychotherapy and Counselling (his interview with UK Column can be found here). We have been trying to disseminate the ‘cascade of information’ that we are receiving and observing with our own eyes.
Observation is what we are trained to do. Our phone conversations have often been extremely expansive as we compare research and bounce ideas off each other. It is a rare synergy that works, especially since we have never met in person. When Christian first started talking about a mass death anxiety, I was very intrigued. Had we normalised death anxiety? I knew he was onto something, so we researched and talked a great deal more.
We would like to ‘propagate’ an idea for readers to consider. The term Christian came up with is ‘mass propagation’. You heard it here first, although full acknowledgement must be given to Christian for coming up with this term, which appears to dovetail nicely into what we are seeing and experiencing in our everyday lives.
How does it work?
The USA Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 (DSM5) criteria for ‘phobia’—a term that would include a death anxiety—are:
- Excessive worry or fear of death or dying that gets in the way of life (Has continual worry of death involving yourself or members of your family during Covid-19 got in the way of your life?)
- To actively avoid any situation involving death or dying (Did the forced lockup ensure you felt safe, away from any risk to your health or that of your loved ones? Did you rely on supermarket delivery services too scared to venture out? Were you taking supplies and dropping them off on doorsteps of neighbours, then stepping back?)
- To experience intense anxiety when thinking of death or dying (Did you constantly worry about potentially passing something onto one of your loved ones who may be elderly or vulnerable? Did you write a will? Did you put your affairs in order, just in case? Are you scared to get sick? Were you worried about yourself or your loved ones dying alone without friends or family?)
The relentless and unethical fear campaign we have undergone since 2020 has severely attacked many people’s psychological wellbeing, leaving them unhealthily preoccupied with avoiding death. We know that living in a constant state of fear not only impacts our emotional health, but also it damages the immune system and significantly contributes to physical health issues.
Therefore, has the fear campaign actually pushed a proportion of the population towards an early death because of being terrified of death? How did this happen? And how was this allowed to happen?
With so many questions to consider, this led Christian and me to the question of ‘what is propaganda’. Where did the word originate, and how have governments and corporations managed to change its meaning to suit their own narrative and to the detriment of all of us? What words and terms do they use in order to propagate fear, or to propagate a fear of death?
Christian and I call it ‘death stress’. Could those three-word worry phrases we became so familiar with actually be the death of us? ‘Stay At Home’, ‘Protect The NHS’, ‘Hands, Face, Space’, and ‘Don’t Kill Granny’ are examples.
Attempting to plan, manage, attempt or influence people en masse to an idea or an action is propaganda.
A term (though not a concept) originating from the Vatican, propaganda was first used in the sense of ‘spreading faith’. However, in the 20th century and now the 21st century, its meaning has morphed into a something that we have been encouraged to interpret or view suspiciously as ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation’—mostly allegedly coming from an unreliable source. But who defines what an ‘unreliable source is? Instilling ideas, manipulation, coercion or encouraging others to behave in a certain way could be called ‘persuasion’ or even ‘nudging’. When does ‘nudging’ become dangerous or ill-intentioned?
We all have the ability to ‘propagate’. Don’t the majority of us who still have the ability to think critically do it every day, with as many people as possible? We may call it ‘seeding’, when we—those of us who can see past the narrative—carefully and gently drop an idea that we hope may give that person a desire to find out more.
This is not malevolent propaganda if it is true, can be evidenced and is given with good intentions. Yet those that control the narrative, together with their appointed experts, have deliberately and intentionally gone out of their way to disproportionately scare, fear and terrorise large swathes of the population. Locking up an entire country is a big deal, and terrifying your own citizens for no reason is unprecedented.
You may associate the word ‘propagate’ with gardens and horticulture; you would be correct to do so. The earliest Latin sense of the verb propagare is to graft or plant a cutting or shoot, in order for it to grow. The similarities between propaganda and propagation are not coincidental.
Propaganda per se has been revamped, renamed and disguised. Currently, governments refer to it as ‘Public Relations’ or ‘Strategic Communication’—or perhaps even ‘Behavioural Science’. The inventor of the term ‘public relations’, Edward Bernays (son of Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud) observed that the term ‘propaganda’ had become unusable in English-speaking countries because it was associated with the German effort in the First World War, and hence he had come up with that new term.
If we changed his term ‘counsel of public relations’ to ‘counsel of propaganda’, would we even give it the time of day? I doubt it. Deception that involves lying and distortion from the truth are frequently associated with propaganda campaigns. Perhaps note the UK Government’s eye-watering Covid advertising budget. It is alarmingly easy to exploit fear and desire with money. Did their ‘public information’ broadcasts suck you in?
If you are reading this, I doubt that too. If you are in any doubt, avail yourself of the Templer Death Anxiety Scale to reassure you. That first noun is associated with ‘Templar’, which denotes a member of a religious military order established early in the twelfth century.
I have reached the following definition.
Mass propagation is the deliberate, wilful and intentional act of propagating an idea in order to manipulate and create a global behaviour in reaction to a global ‘emergency’. Maybe we should add the word ‘malevolent’?
Personally, I am in favour of the concept of mass propagation—but with the word ‘truthful’ added.
Below are links to some articles that may be of interest. Ask yourself, are our friends, colleagues, loved ones and family suffering from a mental health condition forced upon them by their government? Many are seeing a manufactured ‘mental health pandemic’ looming. Are you or someone you know suffering death stress?
Perhaps you are an expert reading this and have more information on what is a raw and somewhat newly identified, prevalent condition that is sweeping across our planet, disguised as a contagion. Perhaps this article is posing more questions than answers? We would love to hear from you, and we invite you to propagate your ideas with us.
Dr Christian Buckland on Twitter
Death Anxiety Resilience (DAR)