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How much of our identity or 'self' is truly representative of our own wants, needs, and goals in life and how much does it reflect the desires and priorities of someone else? Are we following our own destiny or are we unconsciously repeating the lives of our parents, living according to their values, ideals, and beliefs? In this thought-provoking book, noted clinical psychologist Robert Firestone and his co-authors explore the struggle that all of us face in striving to retain a sense of ourselves as unique individuals. The self is under siege from several sources: primarily pain and rejection in the developmental years, problems in relationships, detrimental societal forces, and existential realities that affect all people.

Through numerous case studies and personal stories from men and women who participated in a 35-year observational study, the authors illustrate how voice therapy, a cognitive/affective/behavioral methodology pioneered by Firestone, is used to elicit, identify, and challenge the destructive inner voice and to change aversive behaviors based on its prescriptions. The theory they describe integrates the psychodynamic and existential approaches underlying voice therapy and is enriched by research findings in the neurosciences, attachment research, and terror management theory (TMT).

An important addition to the area of personality development theory, The Self under Siege offers a new perspective on differentiation and the battle to separate ourselves from the chains of the past. It provides psychotherapists and other mental health professionals with the tools needed to help clients differentiate from the dysfunctional attitudes and toxic personality traits of their parents, other family members, and harmful societal influences that have unconsciously dominated their lives. This book will have a special appeal to clients and, in fact, to any person interested in his/her own personal development

"This book fruitfully serves those looking to apply Ernest Beckerís ideas psychotherapeutically, in individual counseling or in group therapy. A capstone to Robert Firestoneís 50 years of work in psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and psychiatry and to the numerous books written by these authors, Firestone and Catlett show how to apply the themes and implications of the ideas of Ernest Becker in everyday life. Their basic premise is that accepting death is part of developing an affirming and meaningful experience of life. Contributing to the credibility of their presentation is the wealth of clinical evidence and personal experience Firestone and Catlett incorporate."

--The Ernest Becker Foundation

"[F]ascinating and an enjoyable read....steeped in well researched and relevant psychological and sociological perspectives applicable to all social studies areas..."

--Carol Lloyd
University of Chichester

"Firestone and Catlettís work is a marvelous achievement....This volume is both innovative and intrepid. Firestone and Catlett challenge prevailing psychoanalytic views on death and they demolish many of the accepted canons of thanatology and existential psychology. ...This is required reading for anyone who purports to talk about death."

-- Jerry Piven, PhD
Author of Death and Delusion: A Freudian Analysis of Mortal Terror

"[A] towering synthesis of personal and clinical wisdom about death....with a superb overview of the psychology of death and death anxiety....Dr. Firestone draws on the best of the existential-humanistic as well as the psychoanalytic thinkers to address a flourishing path toward self-realization."

-Kirk J. Schneider, PhD
Author, Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy and Awakening to Awe
(From the Foreword)

Firestone and Catlett's groundbreaking volume assists mental health practitioners in helping their clients learn to accept and face their mortality. They describe the many defenses of death anxiety that keep individuals from achieving personal fulfillment, and also suggest methods to cope directly with fears of death; an approach that, ironically, can lead to more satisfaction, more freedom, and a greater appreciation for the gift of life.

This book examines the many destructive consequences of death anxiety, including introversion, depression, and withdrawal from life. Throughout the book, the authors demonstrate the importance of achieving what they call life-affirming death awareness.

Key topics include:

The dawning awareness of death and its impact on the developing child Literal and symbolic defenses against death anxiety Separation theory and "the fantasy bond" Challenging the defenses that interfere with living fully Microsuicide: the death of the spirit Breaking with limiting religious dogma and cultural worldviews

With this book, mental health practitioners and their clients will be able to better understand death awareness, overcome the defenses against death anxiety, and ultimately lead richer, more fulfilling lives.

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