The Denial of Death
By Ernest Becker
Why this book?
This book is a landmark in the fields of existential and depth psychology. It’s a recasting of psychoanalysis based especially on the existential writings of Otto Rank and Soren Kierkegaard and gives us one of the most penetrating theories of both human creativity and human destructiveness extant. As contemporary social psychological research indicates, the denial of death (and death anxiety) tends to be at the root of individual and collective efforts to buffer such vulnerabilities, such as mass movements, dogmatism, and even many of the structures we call “culture.” By contrast, this research suggests that the encounter with and integration of death anxiety tends to promote greater humility, tolerance of uncertainty, and awe-inspiring forms of creativity. My first book The Paradoxical Self (1990/1999) was based on Becker’s masterwork, and it has profoundly influenced all my subsequent writings.
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