The Psychology of Death in Fantasy and History

Front Cover
Jerry S. Piven
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004 - Psychology - 323 pages

This volume investigates the impact of death consideration on such phenomena as Buddhist cosmology, the poetry of Rilke, cults and apocalyptic dreams, Japanese mythology, creativity, and even psychotherapy. Death is seen as a critical motivation for the genesis of artistic creations and monuments, of belief systems, fantasies, delusions and numerous pathological syndromes. Culture itself may be understood as the innumerable ways that societies defend themselves against helplessness and annihilation, how they mould and recreate the world in accordance with their wishes and anxieties, the social mechanisms employed to deny annihilation and death. Whether one speaks of the construction of massive burial tombs, magical transformations of death into eternal life, afterlives or resurrections, the need to cope with death and deny its terror and effect are the sine qua non of religion, culture, ideology, and belief systems in general.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Selected pages


Death Fantasy and the Politics of SelfDestruction
Buddhism Death and the Feminine
Uncanny Dolls Images of Death in Rilke and Freud
Death Fantasy and Religious Transformations
Europes Culture of Death
Creativity and Death in Psychoanalysis
The Idol and the Idolizers Ernest Beckers Theory of Expanded Transference as a Tool for Historical Criticism and Interpretation with an Addendum ...
Thoughts for the Times on Terrorism War and Death
Fundamentalism Defilement and Death
Death Neurosis and Normalcy On the Ubiquity of Personal and Social Delusions
Unveiling Mexican Cultural Essences Death and Spirituality
Adaptive Insights into Death Anxiety
Laughing at Death
About the Editor and Contributors

Love Separation and Death in a Japanese Myth

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 177 - The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on September 11, 2001, would have immediate and fundamental effects on the United States and the world.
Page 177 - Men have gained control over the forces of nature to such an extent that with their help they would have no difficulty in exterminating one another to the last man. They know this, and hence comes a large part of their current unrest, their unhappiness and their mood of anxiety. And now it is to be expected that the other of the two "Heavenly Powers," eternal Eros, will make an effort to assert himself in the struggle with his equally immortal adversary.
Page 177 - The fateful question for the human species seems to me to be whether and to what extent their cultural development will succeed in mastering the disturbance of their communal life by the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction.
Page 99 - For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: And the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: For, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
Page 239 - Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.
Page 256 - But one can do more than that; one can try to re-create the world, to build up in its stead another world in which its most unbearable features are eliminated and replaced by others that are in conformity with one's own wishes. But whoever, in desperate defiance, sets out upon this path to happiness will as a rule attain nothing.
Page 231 - To have stuck it out and at the same time — apart from exceptions caused by human weakness — to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard. This is a page of glory in our history which has never been written and is never to be written...
Page 149 - It is indeed impossible to imagine our own death; and whenever we attempt to do so we can perceive that we are in fact still present as spectators. Hence the psycho-analytic school could venture on the assertion that at bottom no one believes in his own death, or, to put the same thing in another way, that in the unconscious every one of us is convinced of his own immortality.
Page 1 - The One remains, the many change and pass; Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly ; Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity, Until Death tramples it to fragments.

About the author (2004)

JERRY S. PIVEN teaches in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at New School University.

Bibliographic information