Psychology Colloquium: Dr Rachel Menzies (School of Psychology, University of Sydney)
School of Psychology, University of Sydney
Title: Death anxiety: The worm at the core of mental health
Abstract: Our awareness of mortality is a universal part of the human experience, and fears of death have been recorded throughout our species’ history. More recently, death anxiety has been proposed to be a transdiagnostic construct, underpinning a range of mental illnesses. This colloquium will outline theoretical and empirical evidence suggesting that death anxiety may be central to numerous mental health conditions. A series of published studies will be presented, demonstrating the causal role of death anxiety in driving clinically-relevant behaviour. It will be argued that current psychological treatments fail to sufficiently address death anxiety. Further, specifically targeting fears of death in treatment may be necessary to produce long-term symptom improvement. Lastly, evidence concerning the treatment efficacy for alleviating death anxiety will be discussed.