A companion piece to The Concept of Anxiety, this work continues Søren Kierkegaard's radical and comprehensive analysis of human nature in a spectrum of possibilities of existence. Present here is a remarkable combination of the insight of the poet and the contemplation of the philosopher.
In The Sickness unto Death, Kierkegaard moves beyond anxiety on the mental-emotional level to the spiritual level, wherein contact with the eternalanxiety becomes despair. Both anxiety and despair reflect the misrelation that arises in the self when the elements of the synthesisthe infinite and the finitedo not come into proper relation to each other. Despair is a deeper expression for anxiety and is a mark of the eternal, which is intended to penetrate temporal existence.
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Based on Kierkegaard¿s book, it is clear that despair is essential for a person to realize he is not a ¿self,¿ and thereby turn to God; but many people choose to create a self on their own¿they become a carbon copy of everyone else in the world. I was intrigued by Kierkegaard¿s insights. From what I understood, there are two possibilities a person can have: (1) There is the possibility of becoming the self that God intended for the person, or (2) The alternate possibility when one manufactures a ¿self¿ then for the rest of his or her life, strives to attain it. The ¿fantastic¿ is the result of one¿s idea of self that is always being improved and refined from the previous ¿self.¿ However, a person can only have a self if God gives it to him or her. The ¿sickness unto death¿ is when the person does not realize this until he or she faces death and had lived a life in sin (sin was explained as the spiritual and actual position of a person in comparison to God). The person had a chance to live in ¿actuality,¿ but instead was in despair and now is left with the ¿sickness unto death.¿ Kierkegaard offered an insight to the human soul that ought to be the foundation to understanding the psyche of the Christian. His work is still relevant, and had probably ushered the Christian psychology movement into existence. It would be safe to say that he is a ¿founding father¿ of Christian psychology and was a very observant man. This book is not easy to read, but it is worth the effort.