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Psychology 3: Pwrpt. Chapt. 14
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Psychology 3: Pwrpt. Chapt. 14


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  • 2. What Is Existentialism? • • Existentialism: philosophy that focuses on people’s attempts to make sense of their existence – People assign meaning to life and take responsibility for their actions as they try to live in accordance with their chosen values Dasein: a person exists in a particular place at a particular time – A person can be conscious of, and responsible for, his or her existence, and can therefore choose the direction his or her life will take
  • 3. What Is Existentialism? (cont'd.) • Being: developmental process whereby the individual seeks to realize his or her unique set of potentials – Ontology: branch of philosophy that seeks to understand the nature of being – May disapproved of the existentialists’ use of the term “being” because it connotes a substance that is static and unchanging • He preferred the term becoming: process in which we ourselves are the source of change, as we struggle as individuals to realize our potential
  • 4. Existentialism and Psychoanalysis • • Existential-analytic perspective: theoretical approach to understanding human personality that combines elements of existential philosophy with Freudian concepts Three modes of being-in-the-world: – Umwelt: biological or natural environment in which human beings exist – Mitwelt: world of interrelationships – Eigenwelt: unique presence in human beings of self-awareness and self-relatedness
  • 5. Values Disintegration in Modern Society and the Loss of Our Moral Compass • May suggested that we live in an age of transition, in which our values and goals are continually being called into question – A central value of the 19th century was healthy individualism: selfreliance, competitiveness, and assertiveness – Unhealthy individualism: drives people to see themselves as separate from and superior to others • This creates serious mental health problems for people because it leaves them with no sense of community
  • 6. Values Disintegration in Modern Society and the Loss of Our Moral Compass (cont'd.) • Reasons for disintegration: – Many people have acquired an exploitative competitiveness termed hypercompetitiveness • They relentlessly pursue personal success and material possessions – Loss of our sense of dignity and self-worth – Loss of our sense of relatedness to nature – Loss of our ability to relate to each other in a mature, loving way
  • 7. Emptiness and Loneliness • • • Consequences of disintegration – Feelings of emptiness and isolation from others – Feelings of powerlessness – Feelings of loneliness Unhealthy communal orientation: others should be used to further one’s own ends and to satisfy only one’s personal goals Healthy communal orientation: other people should be treated with dignity and respect and helped when they are in need
  • 8. The Emergence of Anxiety • • • Feelings of anxiety stem from loneliness and emptiness – Anxiety signals an internal conflict Normal anxiety: painful feeling that emanates from a realistic threat to our established values Neurotic anxiety: painful feeling that is produced by an excessive reaction to a threat to our values
  • 9. The Expansion of Consciousness • The more conscious of our being we are, the more spontaneous and creative we will be – Allows us to be more capable of choosing our plans and reaching our goals
  • 10. Personality Development • • Development process centers on the physical and psychological ties between us and our parents and parental substitutes – We must assume responsibility for our actions or to let others make our decisions for us Evolution of our consciousness as we break these ties: – Innocence: no consciousness of self – Rebellion: we seek to establish our inner strength – Ordinary consciousness of self: some awareness of prejudices and limitations – Creative consciousness of self: transcendence of the usual or ordinary limits of consciousness
  • 11. Assessment Techniques • No primary focus on techniques; focus instead on the person's attitudes, the special meanings of his or her existence
  • 12. Theory's Implications for Therapy • Goal of therapy: – To make lonely and empty people more aware of themselves and their potential for growth through an expansion of consciousness – To understand the person as a being-in-the-world
  • 13. Evaluative Comments • • • • • • Comprehensiveness: broad in scope when compared to other humanistic positions Precision and testability: imprecise and very difficult to test adequately Parsimony: fails to meet the parsimony criterion; too many redundant concepts Empirical validity: little empirical support Heuristic value: theory is proving to be stimulating to scholars in the humanistic psychology movement and to members of the public, but not to researchers within mainstream psychology Applied value: considerable influence on professionals in areas such as education, pastoral counseling, family life, and religion