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Course: Denial of Death
by Ernest Becker, PhD

CE Credit Hours: 12
Fee: $60

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Our Client's Thoughts About This Course

This was a fabulous book and a great choice for CEs! It really challenged my thinking, especially with regard to Freud and Rank. It was also wonderful to read about Kierkegaard and Tillich again. - Susan, Psychologist, Massachusetts


Ernest Becker received the Pulitzer Prize for this work in 1974, two months after his death from colon cancer at age 49. The book expresses Becker's view of humankind's evolution of thought. His work is built upon Otto Rank and Norman Brown's understanding of death and of Freud's psychoanalytical theory. Becker observed that the instinctual impulses that children are born with are stamped by their unique cultures and expressed in their quest for personal significance. Man's advanced sense of self (emotions) and man's sense of body (instincts) become the tapestry through which Becker weaves his own thoughts. Becker believes education is the keystone to achieve freedom from neurotic fear. Fully facing one's fears is the ultimate road out of neurosis. He felt that seeking significance or hero pursuit obscured the real insecurities and fears of alienation and death.

The Denial of Death embraces a rich spirituality as Becker relates to the work of theologians such as Soren Kirkegaard. The intriguing spiritual blend between what Becker calls scientific creatureliness or religious creature-liness is capturing. His ultimate quest for personal integrity in the work of being fully human led him to embrace the best of both worlds. The book will be thought provoking. The reading will lead to a long list of resources to be explored by the clinician in the future.

Educational Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the clinician will be able to:

  • Understand and appreciate both Freud and Kierkegaard's views as to relating psychology and religion, 'scientific creatureliness' and 'religious creatureliness'
  • Understand and appreciate the language of the religious world as it addresses man's neuroses and needs
  • Understand how man strives for significance and the drive to be a hero
  • Understand man's actions to earn self esteem from both psychoanalytic and religious thought systems
  • Understand the fear of death as the crucial framework for religious and psychoanalytic thought
  • Identify the three interdependent aspects of neurosis
  • Help empower clients to be more open to challenge neurotic denial and identify and help them face their deepest fear

Syllabus / Course Instructions

  • The Course consists of reading the selected book, successfully completing an online posttest and filling out a course evaluation.
  • The book is not included. It must be purchased separately. We have supplied a link to for your convenience.
  • Purchasing your course will give you access to both a printable copy of the test and an online version. Print the test to use as a companion as you read the book and answer the questions.
  • You cannot exit the online test once you begin, so have your answers available.
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Bio: Ernest Becker, PhD

Dr. Becker was a cultural anthropologist, author, college professor, social scientist, and philosopher. He received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University in New York. In 1974 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Denial of Death. The honor was awarded to him two months after his own death from cancer at the age of 49.

Becker's groundbreaking work is now supported by numerous studies that support the universal motive of death denial as advanced by Becker. Escape from Evil (1975) was published by his wife, and further amplifies Becker's views.

For additional information please visit the Ernest Becker Foundation located at: