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Existential Theories 1 RUNNING HEAD EXISTENTIAL THEORIES
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Existential Theories 2, This chapter presents the historical roots of existential and humanistic theories and then. describes four specific theories European existential phenomenological psychology. Logotherapy and existential analysis American existential psychology and American. humanistic psychology After examining these theories the chapter presents a reformulated. existential humanistic theory which focuses on goal striving for meaning and fulfillment. This meaning centered approach to personality incorporates both negative and positive. existential givens and addresses four main themes a Human nature and human condition. b Personal growth and actualization c The dynamics and structure of personality based. on existential givens and c The human context and positive community The chapter then. reviews selected areas of meaning oriented research and discusses the vital role of meaning. in major domains of life,Existential Theories 3,EXISTENTIAL AND HUMANISTIC THEORIES. Existential and humanistic theories are as varied as the progenitors associated with them. They are also separated by philosophical disagreements and cultural differences Spinelli. 1989 2001 Nevertheless they all share some fundamental assumptions about human. nature and human condition that set them apart from other theories of personality The. overarching assumption is that individuals have the freedom and courage to transcend. existential givens and biological environmental influences to create their own future. Secondly they emphasize the phenomenological reality of the experiencing person. Thirdly they are holistic in their focus on the lived experience and future aspirations of the. whole person in action and in context Finally they attempt to capture the high drama of. human existence the striving for survival and fulfillment in spite of the human. vulnerability to dread and despair, This particular perspective raises several questions relevant to the struggles and challenges. faced by all people What is the point of striving towards a life goal when death is the. inevitable end How can people find meaning and fulfillment in the midst of failures. sufferings and chaos How can they realize their potential and become fully functioning. What is the primary unifying motivation that keeps them going in spite of setbacks and. difficulties, Generally European existentialists e g Heidegger Biswanger tend to be pessimistic in. their emphasis on the negative existential givens such as the dread of nothingness and. anxiety about meaninglessness American humanistic psychologists e g Maslow. Existential Theories 4, Rogers on the other hand tend to be optimistic in their focus on the positive existential.
givens such as growth orientation and self actualization. The meaning centered approach integrates both points of view Thus personality dynamics. stem from the conflict between negative and positive existential givens The choices. individuals make in resolving the inner conflict result in different personalities The. structure of personality is viewed primarily as a life story situated in a particular context. The human story is about the lived experience of individuals searching for meaning and. fulfillment in a world that is beyond comprehension and control. The present chapter reviews the historical roots of existential and humanistic theories. critiques the major existential and humanistic models before articulating the meaning. centered approach as a reformulated existential humanistic theory The chapter then. presents the empirical evidence and discusses the practical implications of the meaning. centered approach, Reasons for re formulating the existential humanistic theory include. 1 Provide a more balanced and realistic view of the human condition by recognizing. the ongoing conflicts between the positive and negative existential givens. 2 Need a common existential humanistic theory capable of explaining both the best. and worst of human behaviors, 3 Need to clarify and operationalize important existential and humanistic concepts. 4 Reframe the crucial issues of existential humanistic psychology in terms of the. human struggle for survival and fulfillment in a chaotic and difficult world. Existential Theories 5, 5 Facilitate rapprochement between qualitative and quantitative research traditions. 6 Bridge the gaps between existential humanistic and transpersonal psychology by. making goal striving for meaning and significance the common foundation. STATEMENT OF THE THEORIES,Historical background,Philosophical roots. Existential psychology is based on existential philosophy Its philosophical roots can be. traced to the works of S ren Kierkegaard 1813 1855 Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 1900. Karl Jaspers 1883 1969 Edmund Husserl 1859 1938 and Martin Heidegger 1889. 1976 Husserl 1962 founder of phenomenology emphasizes that knowledge begins with. subjective human experience thus rejecting scientific realism and mind body dualism. Phenomenology seeks to describe and clarify the immediate experience with everyday. language rather than scientific vocabulary, Bearing a clear mark of Husserl s influence Heidegger s 1962 philosophy of existence.
ontology is sometimes characterized as existential phenomenological His most. influential concept is Being in the world The person has his her being or existence in the. world and the world has its existence as experienced and disclosed by the being The world. changes as the person s ideas about it change The person and the human world are one. because they cannot exist apart from each other,Existential Theories 6. Existentialism as a popular movement in Europe began right after the end of World War II. Its main proponents are two French intellectuals Jean Paul Sartre 1905 1980 and Albert. Camus 1913 1960 Existentialism is concerned with the ontological issues of human. existence such as freedom responsibility and authenticity Even though human existence. is devoid of ultimate meaning individuals can create meaning and live authentically. through the choices they make, In spite of his dark and pessimistic view of life Jean Paul Sartre also affirms the limitless. possibilities of individual freedom To Sartre freedom is the fountain of hope the. foundation of all human values Freedom constitutes us as human beings Freedom not. biology is our destiny Through the exercise of freedom we can transcend our genes our. past history and the environment Our capacity to choose how we exist determines what. kind of people we will become Thus existence precedes essence. Psychological roots, Two Swiss psychiatrists were primarily responsible for applying philosophical. phenomenology to psychotherapy and psychology Ludwig Biswanger influenced by. Martin Heidegger and Martin Buber was the first self declared existential analyst He has. been able to apply Heidegger s concept of Being in the world to psychotherapy. Biswanger 1958 Medard Boss 1963 a friend of Heidegger was director of the Institute. of Daseinsanalytic Therapy He has had considerable impact on American humanistic. psychology An entire issue of The Humanistic Psychologist Craig 1988 was devoted to. Existential Theories 7, Biswanger believes that the truth about human existence cannot be acquired through. experimentation and intellectual exercise it can only be revealed through the. phenomenological methods of describing lived experiences To study the person as a whole. and gain a complete understanding of human existence we need to include three levels or. three regions of the conscious experience a Umwelt the biological world Our. sensations about our body and the physical world around us such as pleasure and pain. warmth and cold b Mitwelt the social world Our social relations community and. culture including how we feel and think about others c Eigenwelt psychological world. The subjective phenomenological world of personal meaning such as our awareness of the. special meaning something holds and our understanding of the experience itself. The experience of being in the world points to the experience of non being or nothingness. The dread of nothingness is one of the existential givens However this negative given may. be mitigated by the positive existential given of yearning to realize one s new possibilities. This desire is captured by the concept of Being beyond the world through transcending the. world in which one lives Transcendence refers to the capacity to transcend time and space. of the present world by transporting oneself to the future It entails the capacity to choose. one s future in spite of the constraints from the present and past Transcendence entails. more than imagination and creative symbolism it involves making courageous choices. designing one s own world and taking actions to fulfill one s full potentiality. To choose the possibilities for change is to live an authentic life and become fully human. On the other hand when individuals avoid the risk of change and choose to remain where. they are then they are living an inauthentic existence Individuals are free to choose either. Existential Theories 8, kind of life However authenticity does not automatically mean self actualization because.
the project of becoming fully human is fraught with difficulty Therefore the existential. guilt of failing to fulfill all possibilities is always with us Part of the difficulty in the. human project is due to ground of existence which limits our freedom The concept of. ground of existence represents conditions of thrownness which constitute one s. destiny One can still live an authentic life by achieving the possibilities within the. limitations due to thrownness These early existential psychologists clearly recognize the. dialectical dynamics of inner conflict the negative existential givens of anxiety dread. guilt and despair as well as the positive existential givens of freedom responsibility and. transcendence The concept of Being in the world can be understood as person in context. because it encompasses the person s biological psychological existential and spiritual. needs as well as the social cultural context, European existential phenomenological psychotherapy. Ernesto Spinelli 1989 1997 and Emmy van Deurzen 1988 1997 are among the leaders. in existential psychotherapy in Europe today Both are strongly influenced by existential. phenomenological philosophy Cooper 2003 has provided a more detailed description of. the British school of existential analysis and more recent developments. Emmy van Deurzen s approach to existential therapy is to enable people to a become. more authentic b broaden their understanding of themselves and their future and c. create something worth living in the present These therapeutic goals are achieved through. clarifying the clients assumptions values and worldviews exploring what is meaningful. to them and empowering them to confront existential givens and personal limitations with. Existential Theories 9, honesty and authenticity Similarly for Ernesto Spinelli 1989 the therapeutic goal is to. offer the means for individuals to examine confront and clarify and reassess their. understanding of life the problems encountered throughout their life and the limits. imposed upon the possibilities inherent in being in the world p 127 This goal can be. achieved through adopting an attitude of empathy and neutrality using descriptive. questioning to clarify their present experience and facilitating their discovery of their own. meanings in spite of the existential givens His latest book 1997 focuses on dialogues and. encounters in therapeutic relationships and presents several case studies. Both Spinelli and Van Duersen implicitly recognize the positive existential givens such as. the quest for meaning authenticity and fulfillment of potentiality in spite of the negative. existential givens Healthy personality development requires a confronting and accepting. negative existential givens b living with conflicts and limitations and c affirming the. possibilities of authentic living and personal growth However Spinelli 2000 does not. accept actualization as an inevitable tendency of the self and points out that both. wholeness and incompleteness are aspects of lived experience. Logotherapy and existential analysis, Different from other European existential psychologists Viktor Frankl 1905 1997 was. the first to emphasize positive existential givens This is remarkable because personally he. experienced more horrors and sufferings than any of the other existential philosophers and. psychologists Frankl spent 1942 1945 in Nazi concentration camps His parents brother. and wife were all murdered in Nazi death camps According to his own account Frankl. 1984 he developed Logotherapy and Existential Analysis known as the Third Viennese. Existential Theories 10, School of Psychotherapy in 1938 out of his dissatisfaction with psychoanalysis Frankl. studied with both Freud and Adler He accepted Freud s concept of unconsciousness but. considered the will to meaning as more fundamental to human development than the will to. pleasure Existential analysis similar to psychoanalysis is designed to bring to. consciousness and enhance the hidden logos Existential analysis refers to the specific. therapeutic process involved in helping people discover their meaning in life Logotherapy. regards its assignment as that of assisting the patient to find meaning in . humanistic psychology After examining these theories the chapter presents a reformulated existential humanistic theory which focuses on goal striving for meaning and fulfillment This meaning centered approach to personality incorporates both negative and positive existential givens and addresses four main themes a Human nature and human condition b Personal growth and actualization

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