chapter  11
Larger Perspectives
Pages 26

We are now in a position to attempt some broader integrations and extrapo­ lations of the material presented in the preceding chapters. Let us begin by reviewing the major points that have emerged. A central idea that was de­ veloped is that persons learn that being human means experiencing sharp contradictions and catastrophes. Illness, death, loss, and adaption to meaning­ less demands are unavoidable. Such inescapable conditions pose an ever­ present threat and probably stimulate neutralization efforts based on adopt­ ing wishful, optimistic notions. It is presumed that existence is manageable only if self-deceptive and pretense-based fictions are cultivated, which reas­ suringly dampen the intensity of what is only too obviously lurking “out there.” Death anxiety has been particularly singled out (e.g., Becker, 1973) as a fact of human biological fate that, in its raw unblunted form, would make a mock­ ery of existence for humans who are so uniquely and exquisitely self-aware.