The Lifespan Series: Cancer and Death Anxiety. Help for the Clinician

Date: Saturday 3 December 2022
Time: 12 Noon - 3PM EST

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Death anxiety is neglected in psychoanalysis, in theory and practice.  This webinar brings together a group of experts in the psychoanalytic treatment of death anxiety.  
The audience will be initially introduced to a patient with a three-month prognosis by Norm Straker, MD to reflect on how they would respond to this referral. 
Prior to a description of the treatment of this patient, Sheldon Solomon, PhD will describe his research on the unconscious defenses against death anxiety, which he has termed “terror management”.  
Dr. Straker’s description of his treatment of the patient prominently illustrates the clinical application of Solomon’s research and should help the clinician lessen death anxiety in their treatment of terminally ill patients.  

Linda Emanuel, MD a palliative care specialist, will describe “existential maturity “a term she has designated from her clinical work in palliative care. Finally, Jeffrey Guss, MD will describe his research on the use of psilocybin-assisted therapy in cancer patients with existential distress or demoralization syndrome, and how substance assisted therapy may reduce death anxiety. 

Harvey Schwartz, MD will be our moderator.
After the presentations, we will move into breakout rooms, each led by one of the speakers, for small group discussion, and then reconvene to end the webinar in a large group discussion with all participants and speakers. 


Norman Straker MD, a psycho-oncologist will present a terminally ill cancer patient to illustrate his therapeutic technique to lessen death anxiety.  He will demonstrate  the practical application of Terror Management and how it lessens death anxiety and minimizes counter transference avoidance in the therapist. 

Sheldon Solomon PHD will describe his research that demonstrates the unconscious defences against death anxiety which he has termed “Terror Management”. 


Linda Emanuel MD, a palliative care specialist, will describe “ existential maturity “ a term she has designated from her clinical work  in palliative care.

Jeffrey Guss MD will describe findings on death anxiety that emerged from his research with psilocybin assisted therapy for the treatment of existential distress in cancer patients with death anxiety. 



Harvey Schwartz MD is a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at the Psychoanalytic Association of New York (PANY) and at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia (PCOP). He is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College in Philadelphia. He currently serves as the Co-Chair of the IPA in Health Committee.