Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life's work, The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker's brilliant and impassioned answer to ...Show synopsisWinner of the Pulitzer prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life's work, The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker's brilliant and impassioned answer to the "why" of human existence. In bold contrast to the predominant Freudian school of thought, Becker tackles the problem of the vital lie - man's refusal to acknowledge his own mortality. In doing so, he sheds new light on the nature of humanity and issues a call to life and its living that still resonates more than twenty years after its writing.Hide synopsis
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Description:New. William James referred to death as the worm at the core''...New. William James referred to death as the worm at the core'' of man's pretensions to happiness. We are self-aware creatures whose minds can take in the universe, yet we must, without exception, return to dust. In this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker explores the many ways in which man attempts to avoid the terror and inevitability of death. Becker contends that the ''denial of death'' pervades human culture and is one of the deepest sources of intolerance, aggression and evil. Drawing upon a diverse array of psychological and philosophical sources, Becker argues that anxiety about our mortal condition leads us to undertake a variety of projects to create an illusion of immortality. He posits that one of the main functions of culture is to aid in the creation of such illusions. Identification with one or another ''immortality system, '' Becker believes, often leads to polarizations, with frequently disastrous consequences. Thus, Muslims attack Christians, Protestants attack Catholics, and humanists and the religious attack one another; each attempting to establish their own unique version of reality by suppressing that of others. The list of such conflicts goes back and forth endlessly. Becker's cultural observations are particularly compelling. Though the book is not a ''spiritual'' work in the usual sense, Becker's conclusion that the self must be ''brought down to nothing'' in order to move on to the possibility of ''cosmic heroism'' certainly opens the door toward a fundamental humility and the possibility of a transcendent reality. It's the bad news without which the Good News makes little sense.
My childhood friend, with whom I've been best friends since we we 18 months old, is going through what he calls "gut-wrenching anxiety." He lost a sister and his father last year to death, and never sufficiently processed these losses. I have been a psychotherapist for 30+ years, and Becker's book is an important contribution to our understanding of the ubiquity of 'death anxiety' in our lives, and how greatly it affects most people in almost everything they do. I recommend it highly.
Wow. This is a bewildering psychological treatise on man's fear of death and the behaviors that the awarenessof mortality begets. I think for any student of psychology, this would be a must read. For a mere mortal like me, their were nuggets found here and there that were very valuable; most of the book was enlightening, but partswere beyond my level of interest, if not my level of comprehension. In truth, I would have to use this book as a springboard for much more indepth study in order to grasp even a fraction of the insight it reveals. I have some friends to whom I would never consider recommending this book (I listened to audio version - very well done), but there are others who are curious enough about why we are the way we are who just might find it life changing. To them I will pass it along.
If you can get the book cheap enough to warrant just reading the last chapter, i would recommend it. The book was too "text-booky" for my preference, but he did pull together some interesting insights in the last chapter.
I thought I was ordering a new book, but when I received the book it was clear that the book was not new. Although it was plastic wrapped and the cover and pages do not appear worn; the pages are an almost dark yellow. I was disappointed because just looking at the pages one can plainly see that the book is very old.
This book was listed by President Bill Clinton as one of the most important books he'd ever read. Woody Allen used it in Annie Hall. During the split up scene Dianne Keaton holds up the book and says "all the books with death in the title are yours"..
The author won a Pulitzer Prize for it.
I read ...
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