Proof of a ground-breaking psychological theory: that the fear of death is the hidden motive behind almost everything we do.
'A joy ... The Worm at the Core asks how humans can learn to live happily while being intelligently aware of our impending doom, how knowledge of death affects the decisions we make every day, and how we can stop fear and anxiety overwhelming us' Charlotte Runcie, Daily Telegraph
'Provocative, lucid and fascinating' Financial Times
'An important, superbly readable and potentially life-changing book . . . suggests one should confront mortality in order to live an authentic life' Tim Lott, Guardian
'Deep, important, and beautifully written ... utterly original' Daniel Gilbert
Social psychologists Solomon, Greenberg, and Pyszczynski provide an intriguing but uneven volume aimed at lay readers that attempts to show that humanity's unique awareness of death "has a profound and pervasive effect on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in almost every domain of human life whether we are conscious of it or not." They cite a number of interesting experiments that contrast the behavior of subjects made more aware of mortality with those who are not. Readers might be surprised to learn that judges belonging to the first category sentenced prostitutes more harshly than their colleagues in the second. The authors explain that those forced to think "about their own mortality by trying to do the right thing as prescribed by their culture." The language sometimes lapses into clich ("We have a lot to learn from the ancients") or overstatement. For all the book's arguments, some readers will arrive at the end unconvinced that every instance of human cruelty to other humans "stems from humankind's fundamental intolerance of... those who subscribe to different cultural worldviews."