Book Review | The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

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Gods with anuses

We know we are going to die someday. This is the unique problem of the conscious animal. We know it but we don’t feel it because we need to repress this truth in order to function. So what to do? It’s really hard to accept that we are just worms in the dirt. Especially when our nature is so paradoxical; the body being so animalistic and limited yet our minds so godlike and boundless. We are gods with anuses.

Before and After reading The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

The Vital Lie

What we need is a lie. A vital and grand one that we can always rely on. We need something that transcends us, some system of ideas and powers that embed us, whether it’s a flag, the proletariat, a guru or religion.

Kierkegaard, Freud, Jung, Maslow and Fromm are some of the characters you’ll get to familiarize with during this journey. I felt like each chapter demanded a following period of reflection. I was absolutely taken aback by this book.

Notes & Highlights

📝 “I believe that those who speculate that a full apprehension of man’s condition would drive him insane are right, quite literally right.” Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. 😨

📝 Man is beaten down by life and the world; “beaten because he fails to face up to the existential truth of his situation— the truth that he is an inner symbolic self, which signifies a certain freedom, and that he is bound by a finite body, which limits that freedom.”

📝 How much of experience do we let in?The schizophrenic allow for too much; the depressed too little.

📝 Anxiety is the possibility of freedom.

📝 Ideally man is “…fully in the world on its terms and wholly beyond the world in his trust in the invisible dimension.”

Video Review:

BookLab Video review of The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

If life is an insurmountable problem, and we can’t live with the truth of our situation then the question is on what level of illusion to live our lives on.

This book really checks all the boxes for me:

✅ It’s complex and nuanced – yet I don’t feel totally lost (expect that fu*king castration complex.. I just do get it…🤷‍♂️ ✂️ )

✅ I started the book being one person, came out of it as another. (SWIPE for example 😉)

✅ Checked one book of my reading list – added a dozen!

I Loved it! One of the best psychology books I’ve ever read.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ out of 5

Find more great reads on my book reviews page and the Great Books List

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