If this won’t give you nightmares…
I’ve tried to find this online but I haven’t been able to find any sourcing for the story. My teacher passed it along as a true story so if anyone has any information on it, that would be awesome. In the mean time I’ll repeat it as best I remember.
A boy was joining a fraternity, and was being hazed. As a part of the hazing ritual his to-be frat brothers beat him around, told him they hated him, berated him, and then tied him to some train tracks. Little did he know, next to the train tracks he was tied to (out of use) were another pair of live tracks. A bit later, a train starts to rumble along. He’s screaming and tugging at the ropes, trying to get out. The other frat boys are watching from the bushes on the side. The train passes safely on the other tracks and the boys untie him, welcoming him into the fraternity.
When he gets back to the house he talks about how tired he is and says that he’s going to go to sleep because he can’t keep his eyes open. He goes to bed and never wakes up again.
My first thought was about the power of suggestion. This kid thought that the train was going to rail into him and kill him, and the mind is a pretty powerful machine. Did the idea of a train hitting him do some sort of damage that lead to his death? In a way, yes. The way the teacher described it is how everything has a reverse action. When we experience a really high-high, we also experience a really low low. His high (near-death experience, as he thought it was) was so terrifying that when he went to bed at night his body sunk into the lowest low.
What really freaked me out about it was when he compared this same experience to how you feel after a car accident. You really get the rush of being in the accident, the near death experience, and then you experience the fatigue and absolute exhaustion of needing to sleep. Someone raised their hand and said “Is this why you want to keep some alert when they are hurt?” And so he went into a bit about that and how it’s part of the reason for wanting to maintain consciousness.
Anyways, true story or not, the idea of our body reacting in such violent ways to perceived danger is a pretty terrifying thought.