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Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death Paperback – April 20, 2009
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From the Back Cover
IRVIN YALOMWHOSE BOOKS HAVE SOLD MORE THAN FIVE MILLION COPIES WORLDWIDE
"Always enlightening and often quite moving."Washington Post
"One of America's finest therapists guides us through one of life's most challenging tasks in this profoundly helpful book. It will benefit anyone who reads it."Rabbi Harold Kushner, author, When Bad Things Happen to Good People
"Staring at the Sun looks experientially and psychodynamically at our deepest fear and describes with uncommon eloquence and deep humanity how we may arrive at a form of peace. The book is witty and kind and unflinching, a generous meditation that shows us not how to defeat our fear but how to become wise enough to tolerate it. It should give comfort to the dying and to those they leave behind."Andrew Solomon, author, The Noonday Demon, winner of the National Book Award
"Although written from a psychotherapeutic perspective, this thoughtful treatment of the ultimate fear has much to offer people of faith. This is a wise book by a wise man about the most taboo of all subjects. Read it, and fear not."Dr. Robin Meyers, minister of Mayflower UCC Church of Oklahoma City, professor of rhetoric in the philosophy department at Oklahoma City University, and author, Why the Christian Right Is Wrong
"Irvin Yalom has written a brave, intelligent book on the last forbidden subjectdeath. I honor his courage and rare insight."Erica Jong, author, Fear of Flying, Shylock's Daughter, Inventing Memory, and Sappho's Leap
"Yalom is the Scheherazade of the couch."Laura Miller, New York Times
About the Author
Irvin D. Yalom is a highly regarded psychiatrist and the author of numerous books including the New York Times best-selling Love's Executioner and the international best-selling novel When Nietzsche Wept.
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The title, "Staring at the Sun," is pregnant with meaning. Yalom postulates that just as a person cannot stare at the sun without being physically blinded, no one can stare at death without being emotionally blinded. Phobia is from the Greek word "phobos"--fear. Humans have at least one phobia. Many have more than one, and some people have multiple phobias. Some of the more common phobias are: acrophobia (fear of heights), agoraphobia (fear of public places), algophobia (fear of pain), claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces), hemophobia (fear of blood), mysophobia (fear of dirt/germs), pathophobia (fear of disease), xenophobia (fear of strangers), and panophobia (fear of everything). Some clinicians have theorized that all phobias are just different manifestations of one primary phobia--the mother of all phobias.
In this fascinating book, based on Yalom's lifetime work of studying fear of death and helping people deal with their phobias, it appears that there is One Great Phobia--FEAR OF DEATH! According to Yalom, "Death anxiety is omnipresent in the unconscious as an intrinsic component of the human condition; the absence of evident death anxiety at a conscious level does not mean that the individual is without death anxiety; death anxiety is easily aroused." He explained that for some people, death anxiety is in the background--corralled in the unconscious mind. "But for other people, the anxiety is louder, unruly, tending to erupt at three in the morning, leaving them gasping at the specter of death. They are besieged by the thought that they, too, will soon be dead--as will everyone around them...Thoughts of death may seep into and permeate your dreams no matter how hidden from your conscious mind. Every nightmare is a dream in which death anxiety has escaped its corral and menaces the dreamer."
Omnipresent-death anxiety is immeasurably exacerbated by morbid fear of God and eternal damnation in literal hell fire which is spiritual terrorism. Conversely, fear of death is greatly ameliorated by a totally-loving conception of God and a sane, sensible explanation of purifying hell fire in the Holy Bible and other Holy Books which are emotionally-healing and life-transforming rather than worsening fear of "The One Great Phobia!"
Boyd C. Purcell, Ph.D., Author of
"Spiritual Terrorism: Spiritual Abuse from the Womb to the Tomb"