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Michelle Ehle’s Dissertation Oral Defense and Public Lecture
November 14 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Please join us for this public lecture and oral defense of doctoral dissertation by PsyD candidate Michelle Ehle, to be held at Antioch University Seattle in room 202A on November 14 at 10 a.m.
Title: Death Anxiety & Life Satisfaction: A Qualitative Study
Abstract: There are two certainties in life: we are born, and we will die. Everything in between birth and death is our life. This truth leads many individuals to existential questions: What is the meaning of life? How do we become satisfied with life, knowing that death is impending? Does awareness of death motivate how we live? Death anxiety is a well-studied subject; well over 500 studies provide information on who is the most fearful of death among a variety of groups (women verses men, religious verses secular, youth verses elderly, et cetera). These studies also use presuppositions to explain fear of death, such as, elder individuals have less fear of death due to life experience, a practical reason that makes sense and is likely true.
My study looks beyond practical reasoning. I used descriptive phenomenological research to explore the subjective experiences of six individuals, to look beyond presuppositions and examine personal reasoning, and explore if there were commonalities between experiences. This study found ten (10) commonalities within the subjective experience of each participant that influenced each person’s fear of death. In the whole these commonalities describe the structure of a phenomenon, experiences that alters the fear of death and influences actions taken in life. The commonalities are loss, selfishness, worry about the process of dying, helplessness over what cannot be controlled, common daily fears, meaning-making that is embedded in general reasoning, reports of self-protection, pleasure-seeking drives, struggles with internal and external values, and a feeling of relief that is found in those who have lost a loved one to chronic illness. This study provides an enhanced understanding of how individuals process death anxiety.
Dissertation Committee Members:
Dana Waters, PsyD, ABPP, Committee Chair
Mary Weineke, PhD
Steen Halling, PhD