A Review by Geoffrey W. Sutton
The prospect of death, Dr. Johnson said, wonderfully concentrates the mind. The main thesis of this book is that it does much more than that: the idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is a mainspring of human activity—activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny for man.
— Ernest Becker, xvii
Today, Becker’s book is a must read for those who wish to trace the origins of the important role of anxiety and terror that stimulated those brilliant graduate students (Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski, and Sheldon Solomon) who formulated Terror Management Theory (TMT) in 1986 and went on to direct or stimulate hundreds of empirical studies. TMT research reveals the reliable finding that death awareness leads to predictable results. People generally respond to mortality cues by finding ways in their culture that offer a meaningful life now and connect a meaningful life to some form of symbolic immortality.
The Denial of Death was originally copyrighted in 1973. Becker won a Pulitzer Prize for the work in 1974. More about the author can be found at his foundation, http://ernestbecker.org/
Terror Management Theory
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