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Is there a danger to be buried alive in XXI century?
Taphophobia is the fear of funerals and everything that has a relationship to them as well as the fear to be buried alive. This phobia was not groundless during several centuries until medicine has not been developed enough to have reliable methods of defining whether a man is in a lethargic sleep or dead. Many people were afraid to fall asleep and then wake up in a coffin because there was a precedent. Nowadays, doctors know for sure the difference between these states due to an advanced technological development:
By ECG (electrocardiogram) and EEG (electroencephalogram) which can give all necessary information about a person’s heart and brain’s activity (even if a person does not react to external factors).
By a thorough medical examination of a man’s body.
By conducting chemical blood tests.
By studying a man’s medical history to make sure that there is nothing that could threaten his/her life.
A lethargic sleep is also called “a quasi death”. It is a human organism’s disorder which resembles death by its appearance. For this reason so many people were buried alive.
Lethargy can be of two forms. If it is severe, a person in a lethargic sleep can be easily taken as a dead one: face features become distorted and it becomes pale, breathing can be rather weak (almost unnoticeable), heartbeats slow down to 2-3 beats per minute (a normal heartbeat for a man who is older than 14 is 50-100 beats per minute), a person’s organism does not react to external factors, a man loses weight and becomes dehydrated, also his/her body may become stiff. If lethargy’s form is mild, a man’s pulse can be easily felt; breathing is also obvious; a person’s body reacts to external irritants; his/her skin does not become pale. A man resembles the one who is just asleep.
It is impossible to predict when a person can fall into a lethargic sleep; it is impossible to say when he/she will come out of it either. Lethargy can last from a few days to several years.
Experts still cannot tell for sure what the causes of it are. However, they have some suppositions. A man is most likely to fall into a lethargic sleep because of severe stress and hysterics experienced lately. Also, a person can suffer from it due to his/her organism’s total exhaustion, brain diseases or traumas.
Nadezhda Lebedina’s life story proves that lethargy is a human organism’s defence mechanism against stress and shock. She fell into a lethargic sleep after a scandal with her husband and had been sleeping for 20 years (1954-1974). After awakening, doctors claimed that she was absolutely healthy. Nadezhda’s case is even registered in the Guinness Book of Records.
Nicolai Gogol also went through an emotionally difficult situation before falling into a lethargic sleep (he was extremely afraid of this during his life). He could not resign himself to his beloved’s death. He was deeply depressed, and it is considered to be one of the reasons for burning the second part of the “Dead Souls” novel. When his remains were reburied, it was noticed that they lay differently, and there were the signs of struggle on the lid of the coffin and under his nails. However, not everyone adheres to this opinion.
Next story is the example that lethargy can be caused by a head injury too. A man was hit with a heavy obtuse object on his head. After that, he was buried in snow. In 22 days he was found by a miracle and taken to a morgue. When he defroze, a forensic scientist noticed the sparks of life in him – his breathing was almost unnoticeable, but his pulse could be felt without problems. Doctors brought him to life, and he regained consciousness soon.
Being in a lethargic sleep, a person does not change his/her appearance. All processes in a man’s organism are reduced to a minimum as well as a process of aging. However, after awakening, a man begins to age in leaps and bounds and in some years looks like an old man already.
The same happened to a woman who fell into a lethargic sleep right after she had delivered a baby. It was her organism’s reaction to such a stress. In 22 years she awakened because she thought that it was time to feed her baby. It is impossible to imagine how shocked she was when she saw a young woman instead of a new-born baby!.. The woman’s appearance did not change; she did not look 22 years older. But in a couple of years she turned into an old lady; and in 5 years, she passed away.
A person in a lethargic sleep does not develop intellectually too. A man stays at the point he/she had gained before falling in a lethargic sleep.
Such a tragedy had to undergo a 6 year-old girl from Buenos Aires who fell into a lethargic sleep for 25 years. When she awakened, she asked where her dolls were.
The state of lethargy has something in common with the one of coma. Both in lethargy and coma, a person’s organism does not react to external factors (touch, smell, pain, sound, light); a man can come out of it mostly by himself/herself, although a man in coma can get some treatment to recover in shorter terms.
The states of coma and lethargy are different because: coma is caused by physical traumas and lethargy both by physical and emotional ones; when a man is in coma, his/her life is supported artificially, but if a man fell into a lethargic sleep, there is no need to sustain his/her life with additional devices and medicines – a man’s organism can do it by itself.
So, as you can see, you should get rid of the fear to be buried alive. Today, everybody is aware of such disorder as lethargy, and this phenomenon is always taken into consideration before a man is claimed to be dead.