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Hurvich, M. (2007). Death and Delusion: A Freudian Analysis of Mortal Terror. by J. S. Piven. Greenwich, Conn.: Information Age Publishing. 2003 279. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(3):498-503.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(3):498-503

Death and Delusion: A Freudian Analysis of Mortal Terror. by J. S. Piven. Greenwich, Conn.: Information Age Publishing. 2003 279

Review by:
Marvin Hurvich, Ph.D., ABPP

Wahl (1959) stated that psychoanalytic publications on the fear of death were conspicuous by their absence. A decade later Max Stern (1968) claimed that such fears had been inadequately considered in the same literature. He added: “The taboo against death, our steady companion still seems to be unbroken” (p. 3).

As of today, these assessments remain essentially valid. Recent mainstream writing reveal a listing for “death instinct” but not for “death anxiety” (Moore & Fine, 1990, 1995; Nersessian & Kopff, 1996; Person, Cooper, & Gabbard, 2005). The latter, advertised as “Everything you need to know about psychoanalysis …,” is an excellent, textbook, as are the others.

Central to Freud's (1920) death instinct is a concept of a biological urge toward death, without mental content. Its major clinical manifestations are referred to as aggression in a global sense and to sadism and masochism in specific modalities. Freud (1923) later underscored the concepts of fusion and defusion of life and death instincts. Klein (1958) saw the death instinct as giving rise to death anxiety and emphasized the fear rather than the wish.

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