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The Denial of Death Paperback – May 8 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; New edition edition (May 8 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684832402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684832401
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J from NY on Oct. 29 2001
Format: Paperback
"The Denial of Death" is one of the most brilliant books I've ever read, without a doubt. It is a work of absolute passion and brilliance, and it is obviously Becker's 'magnum opus', the product of a lifetime's worth of study and reflection on the mystery and underlying meaning of human existence. First, Becker courageously faces what he knows to be true: that human culture and everyday activitity is a 'frantic sedative' of sorts and is not at all what it appears to be. Second, he admits that the human condition is in some ways terrifying and maddeningly paradoxical, in that human beings are quite vulnerable animals unfortunate enough to have the capacity to reflect on their horrid fate:death. He has no illusions about what so called 'neurosis' actually is--Becker knows that the people society call 'neurotic' or 'weird' are precisely those who have a deeper philosophical insight into the nearly paralyzing fundamental questions of human existence. His 'answers', (although as Sam Keen puts it, they are really only palliative solutions) are mostly pragmatic in nature and require what Kierkegaard (to whom a chapter is devoted)termed 'the leap of faith'. The only consolation Becker offers, really, is the acknowledgment that these agonizing ultimate questions are what all the great souls in the history of man (Tolstoy, Peguy, Nietzsche are just a few of those mentioned), have struggled with. The book's reputation as being depressing and heavy handed is not entirely unjustified, but this in no way detracts from its beauty or undeniable importance. Sometimes chilling, but nonetheless a supreme work of perfection, beauty, and authenticity.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By cinnamongirl on June 27 2003
Format: Paperback
Book Review / The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
Nearly 60 reviews have already been posted on this book, many delving into the ins and outs of the psychological theories Becker proposes. So, I simply want to report the impact this book had on me.
Over decades of reading, I have sought authors who will admit the truth. Becker does.
To find a book that insightfully examines -- with a clear, steady gaze -- the profoundest fundamentals of human existence is quite rare. I have read thousands of books in my life, and Becker's is one of the few that genuinely qualifies. He dares go where many fear to tread. But, death and our denial of it, he establishes, is at the core of human existence and a root force shaping both human personality and human society. I imagine it is impossible to understand life without grasping this. Becker brilliantly analyzes why and how we avoid acknowledging this fact at all costs.
If you have the courage to look at the core of things; to examine your own denial of death and how it has -- and currently is -- shaping your life; then this book is for you. It is for readers who find the truth fundamentally more liberating, than intimidating.
Becker helped me become more honestly human. He also helped me feel less weird, ( i.e. neurotic) by acknowledging that much neurosis stems from being constantly and painfully aware of the actual facts of existence.
Despite the "heavy" topic, Becker's overall writing style is lucid, accessible, even engaging, and without posturing. Only occasional sections lapse into rather turgid debate of psychological theory.
If you want a book that calmly stares you straight in the face, while dissecting what really matters; if you are looking for a book that can help ground you in the center of reality, here it is.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Peters on March 18 2010
Format: Paperback
As a psychologist, I believe this book should be essential reading for my profession. Unfortunately, existential and psychodynamic ideas continue to remain unpopular within the field of clinical psychology. I believe I have become a more rounded clinician as a result of being exposed to this piece of work and I would recommend it to anyone in the helping profession and anyone wanting to learn more about what makes us human and about becoming more aware of our existential realities and learning to live a more open life. Unlike many academic works that I have read, Becker's synthesis and style of writing is engaging and soaked with meaning. Every word serves puropose and some sentences, paragraphs, and ideas will leave one's spine tingling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anthony K. Tshering on Dec 6 2003
Format: Paperback
I think all the reviews say this but I will reiterate it again: this book changed my life. It forced to ponder every important question in life, for me and for all of mankind, in new, difficult yet enlightening ways. I think it's completely undervalued and underrated by academia (at least at the school I teach at) not only as psychological text, but as a philosophical and spiritual text as well. It's writing is both honest and impassioned, written with the ardous care of a man who has forced himself to face life and death in a magnanimous and sober way. This is easily my favorite book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Brubacher on Dec 18 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book because Elizabeth Kuhbler Ross reviewed it with such a positive spin. I was anticipating a book that would help this generation approach death a little more openly, give us a bit more understanding as to how we can embrace this aspect of living as well. However, since it was written in 1973, the psychological information is very outdated. To be honest, I ended up skimming the largest part of the book because it was such dry reading. Not at all what I was expecting, and did not answer any of the questions I had hoped it might.
It does review and compare all the psychological views of the well-known psychologists like Freud, Jung, Rank, etc, etc, so if you're interested in a history lesson, go for it!
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