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What is Terror Management Theory (TMT)?
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Tuesday, 23 June 2009 14:34

TMT warrants special attention, as a clearly ground-breaking and startlingly bold confrontation with the conventional wisdom in social sciences and its implications in the broader philosophical disciplines. Over the past 25 years a pioneering group of experimental social psychologists has amassed a scientifically significant body of empirical evidence substantiating Ernest Becker's synthesis to an amazing degree.

Daniel Liechty, writing in the dedication for The Becker Reader rightly praises the originators of Terror Management Theory as "three who refused to believe it when told these ideas could never be tested scientifically." TMT has grown from a belittled and obscure theory to become the most cited material in the scientific literature seeking to understand the existential roots of terrorist violence. Through their work, that of their students, and now even the students of their students, TMT has gained a strong and expanding reputation.

A full bibliography of TMT material is available at the Terror Management Theory website.

 

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Becker on Otto Rank

"Rank goes so far as to say that the 'need for a truly religious ideology is inherent in human nature and its fulfillment is basic to any kind of social life.' Only in this way, says Rank, only by surrendering to the bigness of nature on the highest, least-fetishized level, can man conquer death. In other words, the true heroic validation or one's life, lies beyond sex, beyond the other, beyond the private religion-all these are makeshifts that pull man down or that hem him in, leaving him torn with ambiguity."

-From Denial of Death, Chapter 8

more on Otto Rank here