The Instincts of Life and Death

Eros, said Freud, is one of our basic instincts. From the ancient Greek, Eros refers to the God of Love, which we might see as creation. You can read about it here: ( The multitudinous number of all human instincts, might be distilled to just two. The two sides of humanity are perhaps our ability or behavior based on instincts around love, or creation, and our ability to destroy, which in turn could be related to death. Creation of course, might quite naturally be thought of as the attraction of male and female and the result of their sexual union, but more is implied here when we think about it. The act of creating things, objects, careers, relationships, even the act of making a success of our own life’s healing is an act of creation, of love.

Creation is perhaps, based more on instincts than we realize. Creation is the basis of everything, The tiniest particle has within it, the driving force to create, to replicate and to produce off spring and in it’s requirement to produce whole and healthy, we have, at our very base, the necessity to heal. There are five recognized series in the cycle of cell division, a series of events that lead to the production of two new cells. This same process is repeated at ever increasingly obvious series, for all things. Cells divide (or reproduce) and we are able to observe the effects of this reproduction in our world of normal growth. Children mature almost before our eyes, animals reproduce, trees and plants grow and if we think about it, our family increases, suburbs become bigger and our country’s population booms. If we think of these things as entities on their own, as people being the cells, if you like, of our country, and the families and cities as representing the organs and tissue - the fabric if you like, of the nation, then it is not so difficult to think about how disease within the fabric of our society begins.
Families, suburbs, towns, cities and countries that malfunction, with internal concentrations on terror, hatred, racial and civil unrest and xenophobic tendencies for example, bring spiritual and psychological disease to all mankind and it is up to the healthy parts of our society, the immune system of our world, to bring those malfunctioning portions, back to societal health. We are able with little effort then, to continue the analogy and think of our planet as being simply one more cell in the body of the universe. Everything operates on exactly the same basis right down to the tiniest particle that we can imagine and that is the cycle of life at all levels. It is born, it rests and grows to health, replicates, and then it dies. Everything, on all levels, is the same.

Destruction, entropy if you like, or chaos, is the flip side of Eros, and creation. One instinct is as natural as the other. The basic existence of cells is tempered, ultimately by death. Death is just as natural as living and is the inevitable completion of the natural cycle.

Life and Death and our Natural Instincts

Freud wrote of opposing instincts. The forces of life and death and our human return to the in-organic state from which we came. This “drive” is as natural as the sexual or life instinct. One balances the other, Ying and Yang, as in all things, life too, is balanced. So, it is a natural instinct, to have our thoughts swing to deliberation on the subject of death, and quite often, many people shudder at the thought and are horrified that their mind wanders to such “negativity”. In fact, thoughts of death are not negative at all, rather they need to be accepted as deliberating on something that we are all to experience at some time. If you ask any one to think of anything, but, whatever you do, don’t think of an elephant, then guess what…

When we are given a diagnosis of what is generally termed a terminal illness, the natural tendency is to immediately think of those things we will miss, those tasks we have not done, or would have done better, given the opportunity. Many people are afraid of the unknown – the what if syndrome. Some concentrate on imagined probabilities and possibilities and some despair.

I remember being with my mother in the days before her death, when neither of us knew that she was, in fact, dying. My mother was catholic and had practiced her religion for all of her eight decades. We spoke of many things, one of which concerned the matter of death and how we felt about such inevitabilities. “I am afraid.” She whispered, “What if I did something in my child-hood that I can’t remember and God sends me to hell?” The in-congruency of her just and loving God doing such a thing was beyond her comprehension at that time. That part of her, that instinct which defies the loving self and concentrates on chaos, had taken over.

We live with our choices and we need to choose to allow our minds to concentrate on the loving aspect of our being. It has to be a deliberate choice and is not one easily achieved, never the less if we do not choose to acknowledge one and concentrate on the other, then the probability is that our waking moments will fill with dread and make our healing all that much more difficult. I understand the probability that death will haunt our thoughts upon diagnosis, however the acceptance that such an earthly, terminal state is inevitable at some point but not at this stage of life, then our mind becomes free to concentrate on living and the belief that our healing is inevitable.

Author's Bio: 

John A Allan is a Counsellor and certified Life Coach who has helped people with serious illness and cancer in particular, for almost twenty years. A published author, he has just published Spirit & The Theory Of Radiant Consciousness which is available exclusively through Amazon KIndle. Another of his books on behaviour is available for free download at his blog on His cancer blog is at