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EP09 Keynote 06 – Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death – Irvin Yalom, MD

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Topic Areas:
Keynotes |  Aging and Mortality |  Anxiety |  Existential Therapy |  Psychotherapy
Evolution of Psychotherapy |  Evolution of Psychotherapy 2009
Irvin Yalom, PhD
1 Hour 54 Minutes
Audio Only
Original Program Date:
Dec 12, 2009
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The terror of death plays a larger role in our inner life and our psychological problems than is generally thought. Too often psychotherapists avoid inquiry into death anxiety; either because they do not know what they can offer patients or because they have not confronted their own anxiety about death. If we come to terms with mortality in our own personal therapy and familiarize ourselves with the topic, we can offer a great deal to patients terrorized by death. Individuals with much terror about death can be helped, not only to enjoy relief from fear, but also may find that an encounter with death will enhance their life. As wise men have pointed out through the millennia, death confrontation can awaken us to a fuller life.Awakening experiences, if we learn to recognize them, are amply available in everyday therapy. One important method of coping is to avoid large reservoirs of un-lived life. The Zorba of Kazanzakis had it right when he urged us to “leave life nothing but a burned out castle.” Dr. Yalom will describe this idea and focus also on other effective arguments available to clinicians (including the arguments of Epicurus) that will help us to overcome death terror.

Educational Objectives:

  1. To describe one method to come to terms with mortality.
  2. To describe how coming to terms with death can allow us to enhance our lives.

*Sessions may be edited for content and to preserve confidentiality*



Irvin Yalom, PhD's Profile

Irvin Yalom, PhD Related Seminars and Products

Dr. Yalom is a Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine. His major areas of interest are Group Psychotherapy and an existentially - inter-personally based individual therapy. In recent years, he has taught via narrative using short stories and novels to teach the art of psychotherapy.

Dr. Yalom was the recipient of the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award presented by The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) at the 75th meeting on March 6, 2017 in New York City.