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The Denial of Death | [Ernest Becker]

The Denial of Death

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life's work, The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker's brilliant and impassioned answer to the "why" of human existence. In bold contrast to the predominant Freudian school of thought, Becker tackles the problem of the vital lie: man's refusal to acknowledge his own mortality. In doing so, he sheds new light on the nature of humanity and issues a call to life and its living that still resonates more than 30 years after its writing.
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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life's work, The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker's brilliant and impassioned answer to the "why" of human existence. In bold contrast to the predominant Freudian school of thought, Becker tackles the problem of the vital lie: man's refusal to acknowledge his own mortality. In doing so, he sheds new light on the nature of humanity and issues a call to life and its living that still resonates more than 30 years after its writing.

©1973 Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"A brave work of electrifying intelligence and passion, optimistic and revolutionary, destined to endure." (New York Times Book Review)
"Ranks among the truly important books of the year. Professor Becker writes with power and brilliant insight." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (178 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Michael Santa Rosa, CA, United States 09-18-12
    Michael Santa Rosa, CA, United States 09-18-12
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    "Symbology is central to all human behavior"
    Where does The Denial of Death rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The subject is the best, the performance by the reader is OK. Becker's book explains many of the symbols used in society and cultures to attach "meaning" to our lives. It's a fascinating study of human behavior and explains many of the polarizations in the world.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Becker was on his deathbed when his manuscript arrived at the publisher. The publisher rushed to his home to spend the last few hours with him. The poignancy of this moment is not lost on the publisher, nor the reader. As Becker faced his own death, his insights were enhanced and more clear.


    What three words best describe Raymond Todd’s voice?

    Subtle. Slow. Unemotive.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    That man is basically animal. And, as the knowledge of our differences to animal (thought, emotion, rationale thought, opposable thumbs, design and intention) we created symbols to attach meaning to our lives. As we denied our own mortality the creation of symbols, heros and God's became a necessary coping mechanism. However, those same symbols (religion, nationality, race, gender, sports teams, etc.) became our undoing as we reified them and gave them power. This power has been used and abused over the millennia to manipulate and control the masses.


    Any additional comments?

    Read this book. So many aspects of the human existence become more clear.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Årnes, Norway 11-03-12
    Andrew Årnes, Norway 11-03-12
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    "Changed my understanding of myself and religion"

    I always felt when reading books trying to explain religion scientifically or functionally that they were missing something essential about religion. Then when I listened to Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death it all finally made sense. What is more, I also began to understand the source of my own constant drive to leave a mark on the world.
    It was a relief to finally find a theory that explained the evolution of these two essential social phenomena, religion and immortality projects, in one book.
    Although it is an all encompassing theory, and I am sure life is about more than just this; Becker's analysis of what is undeniably a shared human tendency -- to fear and deny death -- and its impact on our psychology as a species, is profound.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mathew COLUMBIA, SC, United States 01-30-11
    Mathew COLUMBIA, SC, United States 01-30-11 Listener Since 2005
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    "Must Buy!!"

    I have read this book more than 5 times and each time i love it more.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 06-22-10
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 06-22-10 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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    "A Classic in Social Psychology"

    Based on the work of Freud's least credited successor, Otto Rank, The Denial Of Death weaves an irrefutable argument that human aggression stems from an overweening hubris based exactly in the daily repression of the inevitability of our own individual death. In this denial, we attack and metaphorically or actually kill others--this can range from talking about our neighbor behind his back to all-out assassination on the battlefield. There is no easy-breezy solution to this problem, as in many lesser popular works--Becker sees human nature remaining more or less the same--but he does urge the reader toward redirecting hateful energies away from human scapegoats and toward abstractions like human suffering itself. A penetrating and unflinching work completed just before Becker's own demise from cancer. A must read.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 10-13-11
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 10-13-11 Member Since 2009
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    "freud & sex vs. GOD & death"

    becker died about the time this book was published
    that probably didn't bother him as much as you'd think
    he saw himself as a prophet/high priest of modern culture

    he was after life's deepest meanings and truth with a capital T
    in a sense he saw himself as outside of time and fashion
    almost in the role of a weary old testament truth teller

    the jargon was dense and built to survive academic scrutiny
    he busily refered to otto rank and quoted soren kierkegaard
    footnotes were included in the text in excruciating detail

    the 20th century was built on marx and darwin and freud
    marx has been discredited by world events
    darwin was right but not as dogmatic as people believe

    freud alone was folded and molded to suit each passing fancy
    becker sought to reinterpret freud at the deepest level
    in a sense he wanted to set things right with the human mind

    the book was not written with the intention of being read aloud
    it was written to be studied and then withstand the attack of becker's rivals
    in provides understanding and insight more than entertainment





    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul levy 10-11-09
    Paul levy 10-11-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Factual but long"

    If you like listening to a text book (which I do), you are halfway there. The ideas are somewhat dated. Strong Freudian themes and explanations, but in audio format it is a long listen.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mathew columbia, SC, USA 02-27-06
    Mathew columbia, SC, USA 02-27-06
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    "A Must read for anyone who is in search of truth"

    if you want to understand what is really happenenig around you and have questions about life this book is for you.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pat Houston, TX, United States 06-19-14
    Pat Houston, TX, United States 06-19-14 Member Since 2005

    Evening and Weekend Manager Lone Star College-Greenspoint Center Houston, TX 77060

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    "The most significant book I have ever read."

    The battle in my mind between my heritage of faith and my deep allegiance to the scientific method found some peace in the main hypothesis of The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. He hypothesizes that man is driven by a deep fear of dying to build constructs of what happens after death. He suggests that the primal fear of death cause people to convert to religion, leave moments to their lives, and to spend their life in an Epicurean scramble to balance the nothingness of death.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Raynal San Francisco,, CA USA 03-27-13
    D. Raynal San Francisco,, CA USA 03-27-13 Member Since 2011

    primato

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    "Brillant, Timeless and Riveting"
    Where does The Denial of Death rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the deepest and yet very accessible books that I have ever heard. Since listening to it I have purchased the book and read it cover to cover. Superb.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Too many to mention. I believe each person who listens to this book will be moved and permanently changed.


    Have you listened to any of Raymond Todd’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    He is very good. Reads quickly and clearly.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Loved the stories regarding Freud and Jung. Enlightening


    Any additional comments?

    A must read if you are interested in the core of our human being. This book absolutely deserved the Pulitzer Prize.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael solomon princeton, nj USA 03-21-13
    michael solomon princeton, nj USA 03-21-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Most excellent."
    What made the experience of listening to The Denial of Death the most enjoyable?

    Becker had it right. Freud was right on target except for one small thing, the sex thing. It is DEATH that is the root of all neurosis.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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