Yalom, a psychiatrist Emeritus Stanford University School of Medicine has written a manual and memoir to show us how he, his patients and many people have been able to transmute the foreknowledge looming before all humans that we will one day die into a catalyst for consummating one's own life. Yalom directly addresses the question of how can we, even if we are not theists leave our own traces of "immortality.
His stress on "caring for the patient" carries a spiritual ring that makes it impossible to dismiss Yalom's perspective as simple atheism. Yalom is practicing, living in and calling us to something sacred. In relation to Ernest Becker's work, Yalom helps connects what Nietsche and Becker share in the way that Becker in ch 5 of Denial of Death did more explicitly with Kierkegaard. Yalom offers specific ideas in his section "Mighty Thoughts to Overcome Death Anxiety" on living with death anxiety and looking for realistic traces of immortality.
As an aid for dealing with the the quest for immortality I especially like his metaphor "rippling" -- ideas, memories, differences you've been, done, and shared that made differences in peoples' lives that continue to resonate. However, unlike reading the novel, keeping track of which scenes depict waking reality and dreaming reality can be challenging. In addition to this Yalom immerses us in three perspectives on death: For some people this might be one of the best non-theistic introductions to work similar to Ernest Becker's ideas.
If one can call this an introduction to Becker's ideas, it is due to the book's convergence with the Stoics [especially Epicurius: Though Becker is only mentioned once, one feels the undercurrent of Becker's work in Yalom's book. Yalom gives an account of his theory about death anxiety and practical examples in his work of dead anxiety anxiety about nonbeing, anxiety about what comes after or anxiety about the dying process.
Don't expect a empirical scientific study. Yalom is philosophical oriented with the belief that people can find their own truths. May 05, David rated it it was amazing.
- Parkinsons Disease (Biographies of Disease).
Imagine a huge angry fiery rock is hurtling towards the earth at super-speed. All the scientists agree it will obliterate us. Could be next year, could be in the next twenty minutes. Oh my goodness, you can even see it in the sky, aaaaarrrrrrgh! Yalom however would have a different approach. He explains that the smallness of the time we have left actually makes it more precious and poignant.
That sounds fine in practise, but look at that thing in the sky!
- Histoires érotiques des membres de Jouer Avec Le Fantasme - Tome 1 (Histoires érotiques des membres de JALF.com) (French Edition)?
I have successfully dedicated myself to an enjoyable, rewarding and meaningful occupation. At this point Irving Yalom is irritating you slightly. You will live on in their memories…. You know, the annoying, selfish ones? I was way too nice. I felt slightly annoyed at the tone which seemed to be simultaneously stressing the importance of clear-sightedly looking at death, but also wanting to make death more digestible, less significant.
Turning the death-terror into death-anxiety seems like a denial of sorts. Mar 18, Don rated it it was amazing Shelves: Although such awareness is difficult, bringing with it great anxiety, it can motivate us to embrace life and to live more fully and compassionately. Although confronting death can have its benefits, it also has one major drawback--anxiety, for some of us truly unbearable anxiety.
In order to quell this anxiety, Yalom gives us some advice, none of which presupposes belief in the supernatural. First of all, he asks us to consider the words of Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher who gave several arguments why we shouldn't fear death. Yalom also stresses the importance of not dying alone. Often this means saying very little, just being there.
We can also mitigate their anxiety by expressing our gratitude to them, telling them that our lives have been better because they were in it; in other words, we can emphasize how their compassion has rippled into our own lives. By not allowing others to die alone, we also give them the opportunity to set an example for us, to model the right way, the courageous way, to die, which in turn makes it easier for them to leave.
May 08, Mina rated it it was ok. This book was sent for review. To be sure, the subject matter of this book greatly interested me at first, even though the book was written in a somewhat simplistic style that I'm not really used to.
I've always been concerned and perhaps even obsessed with matters of death and the existential dilemma; however, as this book went on, with some great quotes from Nietzsche by the way, the author begins to show his true colours. He doesn't seem very fond of religion, the idea of "God," or anything spi This book was sent for review. He doesn't seem very fond of religion, the idea of "God," or anything spiritual. Now, don't get me wrong, I went through my own phase of this, but when I was very young, and being rebellious against religious institutions and peoples' ideas and ideals of God was normal, or is usually normal for any questioning teenager or young adult.
But I grew out of this, and, I sort of learned to see through different perceptions of what we deem "reality" that exists in the subjective worlds of others. I have respect for religion, and spirituality, and unlike the author, I don't want to insult any body's spiritual yearnings or spirituality, period, by running their ideals through the muck, for, just as this author alludes -- nobody really knows the true nature of anything, do we?
And, he also claims in his book that nobody can blame their current state on anybody else. Well, then wouldn't this then allude to God as well? Should we then blame God, as the author seems to want to -- or even an imaginary one, for all the evils in the world, when in fact it is we humans who create our own reality and hell on earth? He doesn't want to grovel before a "cruel" God, he says, and truthfully, as a vegetarian and animal rights activist, I understand his anger and pain because I feel very deeply for all sentient beings, but maybe in the end, WE'RE the ones responsible for suffering because we don't do enough to prevent it.
Maybe we're not brave enough yet. Maybe we're not strong enough. Whatever it is, you can't really hate God or the idea of God because of the evils of mankind. Also, I'm not really sure how the theories presented here are supposed to help anybody. I think anyone can come up with their own ideas and do a better job at it. I know that for me, death is a reality, and when it comes, it comes; after that, nobody can prove for sure what happens, but I'm sure it will be a hell of a lot more interesting than what most of us deem it to be. And, one more thing: I'd also like to know, what is so brave about the ideas in this book?
What is brave about deconstructing and destroying? It takes more courage to plummet, to investigate, to build up, to create, than it does to demolish. I do not like the way the author treated his patients either, as if he and only he knows the truth. This is something akin to a God-complex right here, and if I sound or seem angry, in a way I am, because I expected more from this book than to be lectured to, either about the "truth" of God or another human's "truth.
I don't need somebody to teach that to me.
Le soleil ni la mort ne se peuvent regarder en face, that is, You cannot stare straight into the face of the sun, or death. The author offers this book optimistically and he hopes that it will help us to stare death in the face and, in so doing, not only ameliorate terror but enrich our lives.
One star less because the author doesn't go into detail when sharing some of the stories and leave them without sufficient explanation. View all 5 comments.
Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death by Irvin D. Yalom
Oct 19, Audrey rated it really liked it. The best thing about this book was that it made me realize I'm not the only one struggling with death terror. I know that sounds silly, since "fear of death" is probably one of the biggest human fears, but my fear has seemed--at least in the last few years--outsized and bigger than that of most other people I know. The book gave me some insights into why this terror may have developed in the first place, confirmation of some of the coping mechanisms I've developed on my own, and ideas for how to The best thing about this book was that it made me realize I'm not the only one struggling with death terror.
The book gave me some insights into why this terror may have developed in the first place, confirmation of some of the coping mechanisms I've developed on my own, and ideas for how to create other strategies. Yalom is a friendly writer; you feel when you're reading as if he's sitting beside you and talking, which is certainly comforting for a topic like this. He uses lots of examples from his therapy practice, which also were quite helpful for easing that feeling of isolation. He's just out with a new memoir and I'd like to read that as well.
Irvin David Yalom, M. Books by Irvin D. See All Goodreads Deals….
Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death
Trivia About Staring at the Su No trivia or quizzes yet. Quotes from Staring at the Su The more you fail to experience your life fully, the more you will fear death.
By Therapeutic Issue x. Need great content for teaching or training? Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death by Irvin Yalom. In this exclusive excerpt from his latest book, Irvin Yalom delves into the ultimate existential concern, and how therapists can help clients in facing death anxiety. Signed copy of book available. This is what makes us human. But it comes with a costly price: Our existence is forever shadowed by the knowledge that we will grow, blossom, and, inevitably, diminish and die. Mortality has haunted us from the beginning of history. Four thousand years ago, the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh reflected on the death of his friend Enkidu with the words from the epigraph above: When I die shall I not be like Enkidu?
Sorrow enters my heart. I am afraid of death. As he feared death, so do we all—each and every man, woman, and child. For some of us the fear of death manifests only indirectly, either as generalized unrest or masqueraded as another psychological symptom; other individuals experience an explicit and conscious stream of anxiety about death; and for some of us the fear of death erupts into terror that negates all happiness and fulfillment.
For eons, thoughtful philosophers have attempted to dress the wound of mortality and to help us fashion lives of harmony and peace. As a psychotherapist treating many individuals struggling with death anxiety, I have found that ancient wisdom, particularly that of the ancient Greek philosophers, is thoroughly relevant today. Indeed, in my work as a therapist, I take as my intellectual ancestors not so much the great psychiatrists and psychologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—Pinel, Freud, Jung, Pavlov, Rorschach, and Skinner—but classical Greek philosophers, particularly Epicurus.
The more I learn about this extraordinary Athenian thinker, the more strongly I recognize Epicurus as the proto-existentialist psychotherapist, and I will make use of his ideas throughout this work. Had I been a citizen of ancient Athens circa B. Where today do people with unmanageable death anxiety turn? Some seek help from their family and friends; others turn to their church or to therapy; still others may consult a book such as this. Why, you may ask, take on this unpleasant, frightening subject? Why stare into the sun? Why grapple with the most terrible, the darkest and most unchangeable aspect of life?
Indeed, in recent years, the advent of managed care, brief therapy, symptom control, and attempts to alter thinking patterns have only exacerbated this blinkered point of view. Description Written in Irv Yalom's inimitable story-telling style, Staring at the Sun is a profoundly encouraging approach to the universal issue of mortality.
In this magisterial opus, capping a lifetime of work and personal experience, Dr. Yalom helps us recognize that the fear of death is at the heart of much of our anxiety. Such recognition is often catalyzed by an "awakening experience"—a dream, or loss the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job or home , illness, trauma, or aging. About the Author Irvin D. Permissions Request permission to reuse content from this site.