The prolific psychiatry luminary Irvin Yalom uses clinical case histories to discuss death anxiety and existentialism in his new book Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death. In his review of Yalom's book, Paul Wong reflects,
Our unique human capacity to reflect on our existence, anticipate our own demise, and imagine the horrible details of dying inevitably creates a sense of terror. Death awareness, no matter how vague, poses a constant threat and makes us uncomfortable because we can never escape from the long shadow of death...In spite of the predominance of death in human existence, it is helpful to recognize that there is deep within us a reservoir of passion for life, a longing for meaning and happiness, no matter how dreadful the circumstances.Wong challenges the reader to syncretize one's deep awareness of death with an embrace of the passion for life. Is this a realistic notion or purely idealistic? Practically speaking, how might one accomplish this? Can the embrace of one enhance the awareness of the other?
By Paul T. P. Wong
PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(8)