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The Dread of Death and its Role in Psychopathology

The Dread of Death and its Role in Psychopathology

Over the past 50 years psychological therapies have generally been based on disorderspecific models that attempt to emphasise unique aspects of the various conditions. This approach has produced a plethora of cognitive models and a large body of laboratory work to champion hypothesised causal variables in the various psychiatric disorders. 

However, it has contributed little to our understanding of comorbidity, and has meant that treatment developments in one condition have not adequately informed the treatment of related disorders. Given this, increasing interest has recently emerged in transdiagnostic models that attempt to describe mediating variables underlying multiple disorders. 

The present keynote address explores one such variable, namely the fear of death. Several theorists have argued that fear of death and impermanence may drive a range of mental disorders. It has been suggested that obsessional disorders, phobias, panic disorder, hypochondriasis, other somatic disorders and many depressive states may emerge from broader existential issues. In this presentation data supporting this hypothesis will be presented. A range of cases will be described to illustrate the link between death fears and psychopathology.

Conference: Uncategorized