October 28th, 2011
05:04 PM ET
TEDMED: Mortality gives life meaning
Humans have a self-preservation instinct, a natural drive to survive. But we also have an awareness that there will come a day when all of those efforts will fail, and we will die.
"Death looms somewhere in the distance," said Dr. John Wynn, medical director for Cancer Psychiatry at the Swedish Cancer Institute of Seattle, Washington. "It pushes us to ask: What am I doing with my time?"
Wynn's talk on what death means for us was one of the last at TEDMED 2011. It forced sobering reflection on mortality at the end of a week of many enthusiastic presentations demonstrating technologies aimed at fighting diseases and thus prolonging life.
"Life is built around avoiding the simple, inevitable truth that you’re going to die," he said.
Children tend to become aware of death around age 7, Wynn said. With luck, their parents will teach them how to be safe and cooperate with others. These are skills they will carry with them throughout their lives, and will help them continue on their own even after their parents pass away.
We have to ask ourselves how and where will we spend our time and our energy, and carefully calculate sacrifices we make, Wynn said.
This isn't entirely a bad thing, he said. Our society thrives because we have found ways to cope with the awareness that we won't live forever: We are driven to be creative, collaborate with others and be masters of our environment. Fear of death can push us to build things, connect with others and create beauty.
"To ignore mortality puts the meaning of our lives in jeopardy," he said.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't fail me as much as this one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I truly believed you would have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you can fix if you weren't too busy searching for attention.
Hello to all, how is everything, I think every one is getting more from this
site, and your views are good in favor of new viewers.
I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this web page is
Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thanks, However I am going through troubles with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody getting similar RSS problems? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!
I like it when folks come together and share opinions. Great website, stick with it!
Hi, i think that i ssaw youu visited my website so i came to “return the favor”.I'm attempting
tto find things to enhance my site!I suppose its ook to uuse some oof your ideas!!
Hi there! This blog post couldn't be written any
better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
He continually kept preaching about this. I will send this information to
him. Pretty sure he'll have a very good read. I appreciate you for
An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me lunch simply because I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this topic here on your internet site.
When I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be a way you can remove me from that service? Cheers!
Aw, this was an extremely good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to create a good article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and don't manage to get anything done.
An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch because I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this subject here on your web page.
I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I came across this during my hunt for something concerning this.
What are the pros and cons of housing a blog on corporate website vs. using Blogspot?
Hello mates, its wonderful post about tutoringand completely explained, keep it up all the time.
After exploring a number of the blog articles on your web page, I honestly appreciate your technique of blogging. I added it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my website as well and tell me what you think.
Yes! Finally something about poker online.
Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful post. Thanks for supplying this information.
It is truly a great and helpful piece of info. I'm happy that you simply shared this helpful info with us.
Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.
Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!
This page truly has all of the information I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.
You're so interesting! I don't think I have read through a single thing like that before. So good to discover somebody with a few unique thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that's needed on the web, someone with some originality!
This page really has all of the info I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.
Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!
After looking over a few of the articles on your site, I truly like your way of blogging. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my web site too and tell me how you feel.
You're so cool! I do not suppose I've read something like this before. So nice to discover another person with original thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality!
Aw, this was a very good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a very good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.
Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer.
I'm not sure if this is a format issue or something
to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I'd post to
let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon. Thanks
Excellent blog post. I absolutely appreciate this website. Stick with it!
Good blog you have here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!
An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been doing a little research on this. And he actually bought me lunch because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this topic here on your internet site.
Hi there! I just would like to offer you a big thumbs up for the great information you have here on this post. I am coming back to your site for more soon.