Becker`s The Denial of Death Mental Illness


Becker`sThe Denial of Death: Mental Illness


Becker`sThe Denial of Death: Mental Illness


Oneof the widely discussed topics in Becker`s TheDenial of Death bookis mental illnesses. This issue features prominently throughout thebook. This is also true for the Frontline program livingoldwhich examines the realities of growing old both in rural and urbanareas. According to this program, the modern health care system doesnot have the capacity the ills of long term treatment for theelderly. Individuals in the contemporary world are continually beingsubjected to complex health problems, most of which emancipates fromsocioeconomic processes. The ability of an individual to balancethese processes and still maintain a healthy life is becomingdifficult for them to cope with stressful situations.

Becker(2007), asserts that people in the contemporary world are poor indealing with stress in their lives leading to deteriorating healthstatus. Further, he notes that conditions in which people lives andwork are very vital in determining how they handle stress. Anindividual’s living condition has a very big impact on healthexperience and their well being. The worry of death and the hassle ofdealing with long term illness becomes stressful to a point that oldpeople are forced to make living will, or seek the power of anattorney. This is particularly done to help ease the suffering ofchildren. In a bid to attain heroic transcendence as Beker (2007)notes, the human is unable to withstand their creatureliness. One ofthe major contribution to this problem is low self esteem which inturn culminates to mental illness.

Becker(2007) argues that depression occurs due to the lack of courage toface one’s fate. When faced with chronic stress, humans tend toshut themselves from the essentials of life eventually forgettingcore aspects such as eating a balanced diet, exercising, orsocializing. This point is supported by the program which notes thatfor many older people, living a long life entails coping withnumerous chronic illnesses.

Becker(2007) notes that people end up as though dead in their efforts totry and avoid life and death. He further holds that individuals inthe contemporary world have the capability to slowly kill themselveswith too much alcohol intake, use of chemically laced foods, drugabuse and other forms of escape mechanisms related to extendedreaction to stress. Denying oneself the truth of life and avoidingdeath by old people further worsens their situation more so whenchronic illnesses are present. This is particularly true for thoseliving in the rural areas as compared with their counterparts inurban areas.


Whilemedical advance has allowed individuals in the American society tolive a longer life, aging for many involves physical decline and byextension increased care (PBS, 2014). Most of these people are takento caring homes due to the kind of attention and care they call for.Excessive or sustained stress and how an individual respond to itdoes not only affect how his or her brain works, but also how hisimmune system respond to diseases. This is also supported by theLivingOld whichnotes various problems that old people are subjected to in the modernworld (PBS, 2014).

Stresshas been cited as one of the major psychological problems facingcontemporary society today. In essence, it has been shown as a majorcause of social and health problems facing the society, alteringindividuals normal way of life and making them susceptible todiseases such ulcers, depression, anxiety, mental disorders, obesityamong others. Notably, many individuals are yet to master how to makedecisions in regard to handling stressful situations, making themvulnerable to chronic stress and its associated problems. This isespecially so given the fact that human are constantly subjected tostress as opposed to animals. The fear of life results in increasedfear of death and depression. People who are depressed are often livein fear and even forget to eat or move away from their daily life.

Inconclusion, mental illness and depression is seen as being theresults of the human tendency to avoid reality and to fear death.This fear only worsens the situation more so for the old who areprone to different diseases. Today, those over 85 years old in the USare many and largely depend on speciallized care. However, thehealthcare system in the country is ill equipped in regard tooffering care to the increasing older generation. The fear of deathand shielding the children from suffering has rendered many to make aliving will and seeking the help of the attorney. The emotional tollfor families and those living with long term illness and who areliving under assistance is often huge. With more and more peoplebecoming old, there is a perceived need to change the health caresystem and to train more and more caregivers. This in turn will helpease the emotional burden and stress that is associated with longterm illnesses.


Becker,E. (2007). Thedenial of death.New York: Simon and Schuster.

Kazdin,A. E., &amp Blase, S. L. (2011). Rebooting psychotherapy researchand practice to reduce the burden of mental illness. Perspectiveson Psychological Science,6(1),21-37.

PBS(2014). Livingold. Retrievedon December 5 2014 from