Sudden Unexplained Deaths; A Real Threat: Evaluate how incidents of "sudden death" are explained by researchers.

Essay by HeeroyuiHigh School, 12th gradeB, November 2006

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Psychology; Motivation and Emotion

Research Essay

One of the most puzzling events in this world that science has yet to fully explain is the occurrences of what is commonly known as "sudden deaths". In psychology within the field of psychosomatics the term is used to describe incidents of sudden unexpected deaths in which the cause is relatively unknown; unrelated to violence and disease. Such incidents have frequently occurred throughout the history of mankind and are not just restricted to people of uncivilized cultures. Over the years many ideas have arose to explain this phenomenon but none have yet been widely accepted as the sole reason.

The first accepted known record of such an event occurred in South America by a missionary physician called Soares de Souza (1587). He first observed incidents of sudden unexplained deaths among the Tupinambas, American Indian tribal people, where death could be induced by fright by a so-called "medicine man".

A later account of similar events was recorded in 1906 when Leonard, a medical authority of the time, wrote that he had seen on several occasions Haussa soldiers conveniently die hours after believing themselves to have been bewitched or cursed by the local witch doctors. He continues to mention in his account that no nourishment or medicines that were given to the soldiers had the slightest effect to relieve symptoms or to improve their condition in any way. Both Souza and Leonard came to the same conclusion that the reason these men died despite every effort that was made to save them was simply because of their own will. They suggested that it was their strong belief in the supernatural that sealed their fate (Death by Superstition, 1942).

Another example of superstitious fear correlating with unexplained deaths was reported by Merolla on his trip to...