Written in Irv Yalom's inimitable story-telling style, Staring at the Sun is a profoundly encouraging approach to the universal issue of mortality. In this magisterial opus, capping a lifetime of work and personal experience, Dr. Yalom helps us recognize that the fear of death is at the heart of much of our anxiety. Such recognition is often catalyzed by an "awakening experience"—a dream, or loss (the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job or home), illness, trauma, or aging.
Once we confront our own mortality, Dr. Yalom writes, we are inspired to rearrange our priorities, communicate more deeply with those we love, appreciate more keenly the beauty of life, and increase our willingness to take the risks necessary for personal fulfillment.
The philosopher Martin Heidegger once remarked that we can live intensely only if we stare death in the face every moment of our lives. Bestselling psychiatrist Yalom (Love's Executioner) attempts to put this principle into practice in a sometimes thoughtful, often repetitious book. Drawing on literature and film, as well as conversations with his patients, Yalom demonstrates how the fear of retirement, concerns about changing jobs or moving to another city, or changes in family status (such as the empty nest) are rooted in our deepest, most inescapable fear: of death. Yet, he says, this anxiety can prompt an awakening to life and help us realize our connections to others and our influence on those around us. Through such experiences we can transcend our sense of finiteness and transiency and live in the here and now. In a final chapter, Yalom offers instructions for therapists seeking to help their patients overcome death anxiety. Although in the 1980s Yalom, now 76, provided new insights into the human psyche with his innovative method of existential psychotherapy, this book recycles well-known philosophical insights, but Yalom's humane, calm voice may bring them to a new audience.
Full of "aha" moments where you understand yourself or someone close to you. The kind of book you read more than once.
Must read before dead
Essential book for everyone especially the ones who are facing the death of their own or their beloved ones...
Excellent tool for people with death anxiety, especially atheists
As a person with some degree of death anxiety throughout my life, and without a belief in God, I felt that I had uniquely difficult worries that could not be helped or even approached. Previously, when I've been in the mood to discuss death anxiety with others, I encountered a focus on the "comfort" of an eternal afterlife, a notion that I have never been able to rationally accept, yet somehow managed to cause me extreme distress. This is the first time I have read a book that resonated with me so solidly from start to finish. I feel indebted to Dr. Yalom for providing me, personally, such a generous gift. This book promises no miracles (in fact it is very clear that Dr. Yalom does not believe in miracles), yet it lays a framework for understanding death and our anxiety about it that is of enormous worth. Thank you, Dr. Yalom.