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The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life Solomon, Sheldon


Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by Green College. An existential psychodynamic evolutionary theory will be presented based on Ernest Becker’s (The Denial of Death) claim that self-esteem and cultural worldviews function to ameliorate the anxiety associated with the uniquely human awareness of vulnerability and mortality. Psychological equanimity is hypothesized to require: (1) a shared set of beliefs about reality that imbues the universe with stability, meaning, and permanence; (2) standards by which individuals can judge themselves to be of value; and (3) promises of safety and the transcendence of death to those who meet the standards of value. An empirical research program in support of this theory will then be described, and the personal and interpersonal implications of these ideas will be considered.

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