Concept of Death Can Influence Mental Health – A Research Finding In Bangladesh

Ethel Gonzales

Man is mortal. It is a universal truth. Death is the event that ensures this mortality. Some of us, who believe in religion, define death as an event that leads us to another life, others, who do not believe such, take it as an absolute end to the life. This variation in the concept of death develops from our childhood. Such an important concept in human life is rarely approached scientifically. But can the pattern of concept have significant impact on mental health?

My research began with the search of different concepts of death. The most optimistic concept in Bangladesh was the one that is described in the religion of Islam and followed by most of the people here. It describes death as an event before the ‘life after death’. Those that do not practice or believe in religion carried the most pessimistic concept. It describes death as the absolute cessation of life, and nothing after it.

150 Muslim subjects were selected for this research. They were divided in five groups according to their extent of religiosity. The first group consisted of the most religious type of Muslim and the last group consisted of the least religious or nonbeliever type of Muslim (nonbelievers are also included in this group) in Bangladesh. The other three groups in between consisted of the type of Muslim that have moderate to mild degree of religiosity. Every group was assessed for their adjustment capacity, especially with the universal truth – death. They were also assessed for their mental health condition, especially for their adjustment condition on an average.

Result was analysed using ANOVA and Correlation coefficient. Statistically significant differences were found in both the adjustment with the truth of death and adjustment capacity overall among the different groups of Muslim. The best adjustment in both the sectors mentioned above was found among the most religious group of Muslim. The worst was found in the least religious group (that included nonbelievers too). The intermediate groups showed differences of results more or less in same manner.

As the extent of religiosity was the indicator of the pattern of the concept of death, that is, when a Muslim is more religious – death is more a representative of afterlife for him or her and thus for the nonbeliever death is the absolute cessation to life. The first group of Muslim who were the most religious among the 150 subjects, had the best adjustment with the truth of death and also had least number of psychiatric symptoms related to adjustment disorders. The last group of Muslim showed just the opposite condition, for both death and mental health.

Thus in inference it was concluded that concept of death can influence mental health. It was anticipated from the result that the influence on mental health may come through the quality of adjustment with the universal truth – Death, which is also a product of the pattern of the concept of death.

The research was supervised by and submitted to the Bircham International University of Spain, and after the evaluation by the academic board it was graded as an excellent one. The web site of the Bircham International University cites about this research in the list of researches conducted under the supervision of this university.

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