The Denial of Death

The Denial of Death

Book - 1973
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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 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.
Publisher: New York : Free Press, [1973]
ISBN: 9780684832401
Branch Call Number: LPLD861003162019
Characteristics: xiv, 314 p. ;,22 cm.


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I found nothing nauseating about the repeated call to Otto Rank as an authority in these matters. Anais Nin, Henry Miller's mistress, found Rank to be an effective therapist to her , in NYC. "It was Rank who very early admitted that anxiety could not be all be overcome therapeutically, and this is what he meant; that it is impossible to stand up to the terror of one's condition without anxiety." 'It was Andras Angyal who got to the heart of the matter of psychotherapeutic rebirth when he said that the nerurotic who has had therapy is like a member of Alcoholics Anonymous: he can never take his cure for granted, and the best sign of the genuineness of that cure is that he lives with humility (underlined)." " Luis Bunuel likes to introduce a mad dog into his films as counterpoint to the secure daily routine of repressed living." " Maslow was too broad-minded and sober to imagine that being-cognition did not have an underside; but he didn't go far enough toward pointing out what a dangerous underside it was--that it could undermine one's position in the see the world as it really is is devastating and terrifying." "' Neurosis and psychosis are modes of expression for human beings who have lost courage. Anyone who has acquired this much insight will thenceforth refrain from undertaking with persons in this state of discouragement tedious excursions into mysterious regions of the psyche.' "' NON RIDERE, NON LUGERE, NEQUE DETESTARI, SED INTELLIGERE.' "

Sep 02, 2017

While this book displayed a profound, yet common sense-based set of claims regarding the causes of our fears, I found that the evidentiary basis for these claims were strongest when he was criticizing the more foundational warrants from Freud and others, yet the opposite rang true when using Rank and Kierkegaard as support. Tagging a critique with, ''Thus I find Rank to be more accurate in his explanation" would be the general line, creating a nauseating repetition of appeals to authority with circular reasoning. As off-putting as this was and eventually leaving me with a lack of support to base his arguments on, this doesn't mean that The Denial of Death is bereft of insight. So much of the pillars of his claims are worth unpacking through personal reflection and have universal application; in fact the only chapter that seems dated is his romp through mental illness - easily dismissed in light of current research. Keep in mind, for those unfamiliar with Becker, that this is written through the psychoanalytical lens and so you may have moments of having to review Freud and Jung, although Becker does give enough exposition to keep the uninitiated along for the ride.

Jul 25, 2013

An astonishingly lucid journey toward the unconscious crises of existence. Becker's musings are humiliating in their breadth and heroic in their succinctness.

Dec 28, 2010

This book is fundemental to understanding postmodern human existence. As I said to my friends after reading it, the situation is so much worse than any of us are willing to admit, and yet the truth of our common humanity that this contains could really bring us together. It is one of my top three life changing books. It is slow going, so don't expect a journalistic narrative. But persistence pays off.

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