Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Fear of Morbidity

Friends may have heard of my view that I am not quite so afraid of mortality as of morbidity. Death, while being something to be feared as it reduces the value of your life to 0, is more preferable (or better phrased, less undesirable) as compared to morbidity, which may quickly reduce your life to a most terrible state of suffering; if we were to subscribe to a utilitarian framework where suffering and happiness are the key measures of value, a severely morbid life would have negative value.

Death has the elegant property of being an end, at least for you. Perhaps that nothingness is frightening in itself. At the same time, however, death seems more preferable than many other things, particularly if you are suffering from such a thing in the first place. Beyond the most evident problem of pain and massive pain, other forms of suffering are brought about by morbidity; it might be accompanied by loss of body function, thus rendering you all but invalid; it might be accompanied by emotional suffering caused in relation to family and friends. And worst of all, morbidity persists for some time until your ultimate demise.

People do not seem afraid of morbidity, at least not as much as mortality. Perhaps it is because the risk of mortality is more salient, whereas morbidity seems to occur much further along the time horizon. Another possibility is that perceptions are relative and may change with one’s age, and death may eventually become less fearsome than morbidity. I am uncertain; perhaps I will be sufficiently intrigued to study this at a later date.

No comments: