Mortals: How the fear of death shaped human society by Rachel Menzies and Ross Menzies
‘Spoiler alert: if you read this book, you will die. But, as well as being fascinating, this book can also help you die a better death, and live a better life.’
JULIAN MORROW, comedian, ABC presenter, member of The Chaser team
‘A death-defying book from two leaders in the field.’
PROFESSOR DAVID VEALE, King’s College London
The ground-breaking book that uncovers how our fear of death is the hidden driver of most of humankind’s endeavours.
The human mind can grapple with the future, visualising and calculating solutions to complex problems, giving us tremendous advantages over other species throughout our evolution. However, this capability comes with a curse. By five to ten years of age, all humans know where they are heading: to the grave.
In Mortals, Rachel Menzies and Ross Menzies, both acclaimed psychologists whose life’s work has focused on death anxiety, examine all the major human responses to death across history. From the development of religious systems denying the finality of death, to ‘immortality projects’ involving enduring art, architecture and literature, some of the consequences of our fear of death have been glorious while others have been destructive, leading to global conflicts and genocide.
Looking forward, Mortals hypothesises that worse could be to come-our unconscious dread of death has led to rampant consumerism and overpopulation, driving the global warming and pandemic crises that now threaten our very existence. In a terrible irony, Homo sapiens may ultimately be destroyed by our knowledge of our own mortality.
‘A fascinating tour of our species’ attempts across millennia to come to terms with mortality. Mortals offers a stunning glimpse into what our fear of death means for our future. A must-read.’
PROFESSOR THOMAS HEIDENREICH, Esslingen University