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Beyond Death Anxiety: Achieving Life-Affirming Death Awareness 1st Edition

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0826105516
ISBN-10: 0826105513
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover


"This book fruitfully serves those looking to apply Ernest Becker?s ideas psychotherapeutically, in individual counseling or in group therapy. A capstone to Robert Firestone?s 50 years of work in psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and psychiatry and to the numerous books written by these authors, Firestone and Catlett show how to apply the themes and implications of the ideas of Ernest Becker in everyday life. Their basic premise is that accepting death is part of developing an affirming and meaningful experience of life. Contributing to the credibility of their presentation is the wealth of clinical evidence and personal experience Firestone and Catlett incorporate."

--The Ernest Becker Foundation

"[F]ascinating and an enjoyable read....steeped in well researched and relevant psychological and sociological perspectives applicable to all social studies areas..."

--Carol Lloyd
University of Chichester

"Firestone and Catlett?s work is a marvelous achievement....This volume is both innovative and intrepid. Firestone and Catlett challenge prevailing psychoanalytic views on death and they demolish many of the accepted canons of thanatology and existential psychology. ...This is required reading for anyone who purports to talk about death."

--Jerry Piven, PhD
Author ofDeath and Delusion: A Freudian Analysis of Mortal Terror

"[A] towering synthesis of personal and clinical wisdom about death....with a superb overview of the psychology of death and death anxiety....Dr. Firestone draws on the best of the existential-humanistic as well as the psychoanalytic thinkers to address a flourishing path toward self-realization."

-Kirk J. Schneider, PhD
Author,Existential-Integrative PsychotherapyandAwakening to Awe
(From the Foreword)

Firestone and Catlett's groundbreaking volume assists mental health practitioners in helping their clients learn to accept and face their mortality. They describe the many defenses of death anxiety that keep individuals from achieving personal fulfillment, and also suggest methods to cope directly with fears of death; an approach that, ironically, can lead to more satisfaction, more freedom, and a greater appreciation for the gift of life.

This book examines the many destructive consequences of death anxiety, including introversion, depression, and withdrawal from life. Throughout the book, the authors demonstrate the importance of achieving what they call life-affirming death awareness.

Key topics include:

  • The dawning awareness of death and its impact on the developing child
  • Literal and symbolic defenses against death anxiety
  • Separation theory and "the fantasy bond"
  • Challenging the defenses that interfere with living fully
  • Microsuicide: the death of the spirit
  • Breaking with limiting religious dogma and cultural worldviews

With this book, mental health practitioners and their clients will be able to better understand death awareness, overcome the defenses against death anxiety, and ultimately lead richer, more fulfilling lives.


About the Author

Robert W. Firestone, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, author, and artist, who has established a comprehensive body of work that explains how defenses formed by children early in life in relation to interpersonal pain are strongly reinforced as they become aware of death. These defenses impair people's ability to sustain intimate adult relationships and have a damaging effect on their children. Dr. Firestone was engaged in the private practice of psychotherapy from 1957 to 1979, working with a wide range of patients, expanding his original ideas on schizophrenia, and applying these concepts to a theory of neurosis. In 1979 he joined the Glendon Association as its consulting theorist. Dr. Firestone's major publications include The Fantasy Bond, Compassionate Child-Rearing, Fear of Intimacy, and The Ethics of Interpersonal Relationships. His studies of negative thought processes-or internalized ""voices""-led to the development of an innovative therapeutic methodology described in Voice Therapy, Suicide and the Inner Voice, Combating Destructive Thought Processes, Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, Creating a Life of Meaning and Compassion: The Wisdom of Psychotherapy, and Sex and Love in Intimate Relationships. In collaboration with his daughter, Dr. Lisa Firestone, he developed three assessment instruments based on the concept of the voice process: The Firestone Assessment of Self-Destructive Thoughts (2007), The Firestone Assessment of Suicide Intent (2007), and the Firestone Assessment of Violent Thoughts (2008).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Springer Publishing Company; 1 edition (July 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826105513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826105516
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,325,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By sherrirose on September 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was very anxious to read this book because it's the first one I've found that seems to address my problem. I can certainly say there was a lot of research done to back up their theories, and it was pretty easy to follow.

If I understood what I read, most people (probably all people) suffer some level of death anxiety, but don't realize that's what it is because it is on a "subconscious" level. They live their lives making decisions and doing things to divert their attention from this anxiety, and as a result end up living a life that's not really all that great.

The authors tell us we should face these fears surrounding death head on because it will cause us to seriously evaluate every decision we make, therefore leading to a more fulfilling life.

Herein lies my disappointment: The terror (anxiety?fear?) that I experience every single day as a result of facing the "death issue" head on is what I am looking for a relief from. I have been unable to enjoy a fulfilling life because of my very "conscious" fear of death.

While it is true that I make very careful decisions about how, where and with whom I spend my time, I don't really enjoy it all that much because of the constant, nagging fear of death. I was hoping this book addressed THAT issue.
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By Carol on July 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Has good explanation of the psychology of the outsider
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