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Random House Publishing Group, Fall 2015

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The Worm at the Core
On the Role of Death in Life
By (author): Sheldon Solomon By (author): Jeff Greenberg By (author): Tom Pyszczynski
9780812979220 Paperback, Trade English PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology Jan 12, 2016
$22.00 CAD
Postponed indefinitely 5.19 x 8 in 288 pages 11 ILLUSTRATIONS Random House Trade Paperback Random House Trade Paperbacks
A transformative new “theory of everything” that shows how our unconscious fear of death powers almost all human endeavors and shines a new light on the hidden motivations of human behavior.

A definitive and engaging articulation of a powerful new theory, called Terror Management Theory, that explores and explains how the fear of death—subtly present in all of us—informs all aspects of our everyday lives and powers cultures and worldviews. Founded and pioneered by the authors of this book, this theory is a compelling paradigm that shatters conventional wisdom.

We all seek personal significance in a meaningful world: death-anxiety is the reason, the authors show. Knowledge of death guided the development of art, religion, language, economics, and science. It raised the pyramids in Egypt and razed the Twin Towers in Manhattan, and it plays a role in child development, human evolution, the desire for self-esteem, the way we treat the environment, physical and mental health, war, terrorism, and politics. When judges are reminded of their mortality, they dole out stricter sentences; when children think about death, they react more negatively to pictures of foreigners; and adults are more likely to think of death-related words after receiving low scores on a supposed IQ test. Death-anxiety is - far more often than we realize - a hidden factor in our everyday decisions, our cultural allegiances, and the course of human history.

Publication History: Random House HC (5/15)

SHELDON SOLOMON is a Professor of Psychology at Skidmore College. His current research is primarily concerned with the psychological functions of self-esteem and the effects of specific political and economic institutions on mental

health. JEFF GREENBERG is Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona. He has published over two hundred articles and chapters, primarily focused on understanding self-esteem, prejudice, and intergroup conflict. In collaboration with Sheldon Solomon and Tom Pyszczynski, he developed terror management theory, a broad theoretical framework which explores the role of existential fears in diverse aspects of human behavior. TOM PYSZCZYNSKI is Professor of Psychology at Colorado University Colorado Springs. He has played a major role in the development of

Experimental Existential Psychology, an emerging sub-discipline of social psychology that applies rigorous experimental methods to the study of human confrontation with existential problems.

Author Residence: Saratoga Springs, NY; Tucson, AZ; Colorado Springs, CO

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Publicity: New in paperback attention

“The idea that nearly all human individual and cultural activity is a response to death sounds far-fetched. But the evidence the authors present is compelling and does a great deal to address many otherwise intractable mysteries of human behaviour. This is an important, superbly readable and potentially life-changing book…. The lesson contained within The Worm at the Core suggests one should confront mortality in order to live an authentic life, as the Epicureans and the Stoics suggested many centuries ago.”The Guardian (U.K.)

“A neat fusion of ideas borrowed from sociology, anthropology, existential philosophy and psychoanalysis…[The] sweep-it-under-the-carpet approach to death is facile and muddle-headed. More than that, it has consequences more far-reaching than we could possibly imagine because, as [the authors] see it, death informs practically every aspect of human existence. From the way we organise our societies to the moral codes we live by, even down to how we have sex and what rituals and emotions we ascribe to it, death is the bedrock.”The Herald (U.K.)

“Deep, important, and beautifully written, The Worm at the Core describes a brilliant and utterly original program of scientific research on a force so powerful that it drives our lives, but so frightening that we cannot think clearly about it. This book asks us to, compels us to, and then shows us how—by shining the light of reason on the heart of human darkness.”—Daniel Gilbert, Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Stumbling on Happiness
 
“As psychology becomes increasingly trivial, devolving into the promotion of positive-thinking platitudes, The Worm at the Core bucks the trend. The authors present—and provide robust evidence for—a psychological thesis with disturbing personal as well as political implications. This is an important book.”—John Horgan, author of The End of War and director of the Center for Science Writings, Stevens Institute of Technology
 
“This is a wonderfully (terrifyingly) broad and deep study of most everything we know or have thought about death. It carries Ernest Becker’s work a long way further down the road.”—Sam Keen, author of Faces of the Enemy


From the Hardcover edition.

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