Beyond Death Anxiety: Achieving Life-Affirming Death Awareness

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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 of Death 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 Psychotherapy and Awakening 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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826105516
  • Publisher: Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/20/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet 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).

Joyce Catlett, MA, author and lecturer, is the coauthor of Fear of Intimacy, (1999),
Psychological Defenses in Everyday Life (2000), Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice
(2002), Creating a Life of Meaning & Compassion: The Wisdom of Psychotherapy
(2003), Sex and Love in Intimate Relationships (2006), and The Ethics of Interpersonal
Relationships (2009). She has collaborated with Dr. Robert Firestone in writing peer-reviewed articles and several other books, such as The Fantasy Bond (1985),
Compassionate Child-Rearing (1990), and Voice Therapy (1988) Ms. Catlett is a lecturer and workshop facilitator in the areas of child-abuse prevention and couple relations. She has coproduced forty video productions for the Glendon Association in the areas of parent-child relations, suicide, couple relations, and voice therapy.
A child mental health specialist, Ms. Catlett has developed and trained instructors in the Compassionate Child-Rearing Parent Education Program throughout the
United States, Canada, and Costa Rica.

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Table of Contents



PART I: The Subjective Impact of Death Awareness and Its Denial

Chapter 1 Overview

Chapter 2 The Uncharted Terrain of Death

Chapter 3 The Dawning Awareness of Death and Its Impact on the Developing Child

Chapter 4 The Effects of Death Anxiety in Everyday Life

Chapter 5 Literal and Symbolic Defenses Against Death Anxiety

Chapter 6 Microsuicide: Death of the Spirit

PART II: Core Defenses Against Death

Chapter 7 The Basic Defense Against Death Anxiety: the Fantasy Bond

Chapter 8 Separation Theory, the Voice, and Voice Therapy

PART III: Choosing Life with the Full Realization of Death

Chapter 9 Challenging Defenses That Interfere with Living Fully

Chapter 10 The Value of Psychotherapy

Chapter 11 Facing Death with Equanimity and Appropriate Feeling

Chapter 12 Learning to Love

Chapter 13 Dimensions of a Meaningful Life

Chapter 14 My Life and Legacy by Robert W. Firestone


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