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Blueroses's avatar

Hypothetically: Which death scenario would freak you out more?

Asked by Blueroses (18251points) May 6th, 2012

I always feel sorry for the people who come across the remains of a person while they’re taking an ordinary walk through the woods.

I wonder which would be worse. Finding a person who still looks like a person, or finding a skull or other skeletal remnants?

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27 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

But, for a human, I would imagine that the former is more upsetting, as the skeleton is less likely to make you imagine how that person lived, what his feelings were, what went through his head at the point of his inevitable demise and what gut wrenching terror he felt when he finally realised that his worthless life was about to find its overdue end pant pant
So exciting!

WestRiverrat's avatar

The skeleton will definately smell better than decomposing flesh.

Blueroses's avatar

That’s my thought too, @ragingloli

The “Oh, such a short time ago, this person chose these pants and shoes and watch… thinking it would be an ordinary day.”

Then I think about how awful to find what you think is a deer skeleton, kick it and find that it’s human.

stardust's avatar

I’m not sure…:/ Finding a skeleton would be easier on me, but I hate to think of a person’s body being left alone for so long. That said, I’m a selfish one so, skeleton it is!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

From all of the true crime stories and news reports I’ve read, discovering a body, whether fresh or decomposing is worse. Not only can the smell be something that they remember for the rest of their lives, but they have an emotional reaction to seeing someone in such a state. There is more of a connection when they can instantly tell that it is a human.

I think that humanity in general is fairly used to the look of a skeleton. We see them in museums, doctor’s offices, school, etc. People dress up as one on Halloween. They don’t have a personal identity. It would still be shocking, but not nearly as bad as finding a person that still has flesh.

marinelife's avatar

I would not want to find a decomposing corpse. I vote for skeletal remains.

likipie's avatar

I want to say that neither would really freak me out, but I guess it would a little bit. It depends on how they died. If they were murdered, then yes it would freak me out a little. But if they died of natural causes (i.e. disease, heart attack, hunger/thirst, etc.) then no, not really. The only part of death that “scares” me is the people that purposefully kill other people.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Body. Bones would intrigue me.

MilkyWay's avatar

You know, after thinking deep about it, I’d have to say skeleton. I’ve been around recently dead bodies before, but not in a state of decomposition… I don;t think I’d be able to take that lightly.

Plucky's avatar

The rotting body would traumatize me forever. The bones would be neat.

Charles's avatar

If he looks like a person – looks fresh, I might run like hell thinking the guy has been murdered and the killer is still around.
If decomposed, I might throw up.

Sunny2's avatar

Decomposing body would be difficult. For all the ‘found’ corpses on TV and in movies, you don’t get the smell that can go with it. I think that would make me ill. So bones or freshly dead would be better.

majorrich's avatar

I would much prefer a fresh kill to avoid the smell. It is pretty unlikely to find a complete skeleton in the woods because of animals feeding upon the deceased and carrying off parts. I think I would least like to find dismembered parts scattered about, and fresh. That would kind of creep me out.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Many people who discover a fresh dead body assume it is a mannequin or some sort of doll until closer investigation. A few are willing to feel for a pulse or attempt to resuscitate a person if they have reason to believe that there is a chance of hope.

What creeps me out are the people who admit that they murdered a person and then go back to the scene of the crime to look at the body. It’s even worse when they admit to having a sexual reaction to or intercourse with the body.

Berserker's avatar

@Blueroses Then I think about how awful to find what you think is a deer skeleton, kick it and find that it’s human.

That’s funny for so many reasons. It’s like, oops…that’s some dude!
And then, the idea of someone strolling through the woods and casually kicking skeletons. XD Take that, you bone bastards. ’‘kick’’

I think it would be more disturbing to find a fresh (or not so fresh) corpse, since its physical situation is easier to relate to oneself and the fear that comes with seeing a dead body for people who usually don’t happen upon them. Especially if it’s all rotted up, or has disturbing and evident visual cues as to what happened to them. (drowning, fatal injury, whatever)
A skeleton would be disturbing too, but in a way that might not disturb as directly as a corpse would.

Kayak8's avatar

Having found both in a variety of circumstances, the shock of stumbling over someone (even when you are intentionally looking for them) can be disturbing in itself. Finding someone in the water is about the worst of the worst. Dismembered bits ARE disturbing but this depends, in part, on how recognizable they are. Curiously, Caucasian skin on dismembered bits is somewhat less disturbing (to me anyway) than darker skin as the contrast with darker skin is so stark and the flesh is easier to recognize for what it is. Although I search with dogs, some recent remains are stinky enough I can find them without the help of my K9 partner.

As surprising as it might seem, although a human skull is universally recognizable (pretty much across all cultures), they can be very startling to find in the woods out of normal human context. In real life, I have not met anyone whose first reaction to finding a human skull was “cool!” Perhaps that is because people who react that way are not often invited to participate by law enforcement. Even the forensic anthropologists rein in their enthusiasm on a real search. Maybe it’s because we know some of the history and life story of the decedent making the situation all too serious. Several weeks ago, we found a mandible and, because the teeth were still in place, it made it all the more human—various elements of dental work were obvious, etc. While we found other parts of the skeleton, the mandible generated the most emotion for me.

Speaking from experience, weather plays a HUGE role in how emotionally difficult different finds can be. A person dead several weeks in the winter is completely different from one dead a few days in the summer. Floaters are absolutely the worst due to bloating and consumption by aquatic critters (anthropophagy).

Aside from the skull, most people can’t tell human bones from animal bones, but the dogs, if trained properly, can make the identification just about every time. We proof them on roadkill and deer remains, so they know we only care about the human bones and they quickly “get it.”

Paradox25's avatar

The person more so than the bones.

jca's avatar

I think finding a person that still looks somewhat like a person would be very upsetting and traumatizing. The image might haunt me for a long time. A skeleton, less so.

Blueroses's avatar

thanks @Kayak8

I did think about the difference of a professional, actually looking for a body vs. stumbling upon one.

I don’t think it would make much difference, emotionally, except that you had prepared yourself somewhat.

PhiNotPi's avatar

The dead body would be creepier than the bones. Here’s an article on the uncanny valley.

Blueroses's avatar

That’s a really good point @PhiNotPi
Finding a body that isn’t living would be exactly that eerie almost-human.

Coloma's avatar

I have a knack for picnicking next to corpses, all of a sudden catching that unmistakable whiff of death, but so far, the corpses have only been dead animals. I’d prefer to find bones over extra plump and ready to explode flesh. Gah!

linguaphile's avatar

I don’t want to find any dead bodies, first of all, but I’ve seen enough decomposing mice with maggots on them that I would probably run screaming pell mell like hell faster than I’ve ever run from any form of decomposing human flesh. Bones would upset me as well, but I’d at least know that the decomposers are gone.

I have a horror, complete horror of dead critters- give me a live mouse running in my basement over a dead one any day. If I can’t handle critters, I definitely couldn’t handle stumbling across a human.

However, I have no problems whatsoever with working on cadavers. Logic fails here, I know.

augustlan's avatar

Definitely the body. A skeleton would be upsetting, too, but not as bad.

Kayak8's avatar

@Blueroses Searches can last for hours into days. You can steel yourself and be hyper-vigilant for only so long until you turn an unanticipated corner thrashing through briars and mosquitoes in way-too-hot weather and you are just as surprised as anyone else.

ucme's avatar

Stumbling across 2 old timers who both died at the same time whilst humping in the woods, take months to get over that shit.

Kayak8's avatar

@ucme One of my colleagues was on a search for a living person and came across an elderly couple in a field as you described. He had to reward the dog for the find and apologize to the couple for his dog’s enthusiastic interruption of their activities.

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