Healing with Death Imagery  book cover
1st Edition

Healing with Death Imagery

ISBN 9780415783750
Published August 14, 2018 by Routledge
254 Pages

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Book Description

Sages of various traditions and ages have reiterated that we must incorporate the inevitability of death into the fabric of life to experience life's breadth and beauty. Imagery is an important tool in dealing with death, and this book is devoted to exploring many facets of this fascinating issue. It begins with an overview of ancient and modern approaches to the use of death imagery for therapeutic purposes, including a discussion of its possible benefits. Chapter 2, specifically exploring Stephen Levine's contributions in this area, shows that only by opening up to the reality of death can one make living a conscious process of growth. A number of excellent imagery-based experiential exercises are discussed in detail. Chapter 3 demonstrates the significance of confronting death through mental and artistic images; it discusses six examples of death-related religious and existential works of art.Recently there has been an upsurge of interest in near-death experiences and their salutary effects on attitudes, beliefs, and values. Of particular interest here are increases in spirituality, concern for others, an appreciation of life, and an enhanced sense of meaning and purpose in life. Chapter 4 presents a detailed critical overview of this field of investigation, with special emphasis on the transformatory after-effects of near-death experiences. Of all the major religions in the world, Buddhism is at the forefront of exploring the topic of death and dying and developing specific meditative exercises for confronting death.Chapter 5 presents an in-depth treatment of death imagery in Buddhist thought. Exploring the use of hypnosis for death rehearsal, Chapter 6 continues the theme that confrontation with death can lead to healthful consequences. A variation of this technique, hypnotic suicidal rehearsal, is also discussed: it seems to be effective for use with clients who are contemplating suicide. Case examples clarify the details of the process.Over the years, several clinicians have proposed the use of imagery for reconstructing death-related events and thereby facilitating the grieving process for individuals who are experiencing symptoms rooted in unfinished grieving. Chapter 7 gives an exhaustive account of the use of imagery for unresolved grieving, including a number of case histories. Researchers have perhaps devoted more time and energy to the investigation of death anxiety than any other death-related topic. Chapter 8 reviews the literature on death anxiety and death imagery, and demonstrates a core connection between the two phenomena. The authors claim that death imagery has the potential not only to ameliorate death anxiety but also to lead to a more authentic existence.In Chapter 9, the authors explain how death imagery can be used constructively in death education; they present several practical suggestions and specific guided imagery exercises. The volume closes with a presentation of a detailed death-imagery experiential exercise aimed at encountering death to enhance our appreciation of life. The reader will notice this thread running steadily throughout the book. This comprehensive book devoted to the role of death imagery in health and growth, perhaps the first of its kind, will be helpful in changing the rather sinister view of death, prevalent in our culture, to a deeper appreciation for its enhancing potential.

Table of Contents

Preface Anees A. Sheikh and Katharina S. Sheikh

 Is There Life Before Death? Healing Potential of Death Imagery
Anees A. Sheikh and Katharina S. Sheikh

 Opening to Loss: Connecting with Life Through the Meditations of Stephen Levine
 Colleen M. Heinkel and Anees A. Sheikh

 Confronting Death Through Mental and Artistic Imagery
Robert G. Kunzendorf

 Near-Death Experiences: Heading toward Omega?
Anees A. Sheikh, Sundar Ramaswami, and Katharina S. Sheikh

 Death Imagery in the Buddhist Tradition
Sundar Ramaswami and Anees A. Sheikh

 The Dynamic, Clinical Use of Imagery to Promote Psychotherapeutic Grieving
James K. Morrison

 Hypnotic Death and Suicide Rehearsal
Alexander A. Levitan

 Death Imagery and Death Anxiety
Rita T. McDonald and Carolyn J. Salyards

 The Use of Guided Imagery in Death Education
Thomas A. Droege

 Confronting Death: An Experiential Imagery Exercise
Anees A. Sheikh

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