Existential perspectives on well being


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Lecture on emotional well being and suffering, given at Aarhus in May 2014 for the Danish Psychological Society.

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Existential perspectives on well being

  1. 1. Perspectives on Psychological Disturbance, Happiness and Emotional Well Being Prof Emmy van Deurzen Aarhus, Denmark May 2014
  2. 2. 9.00 - 10.30: The Existential Therapy Approach. Fundamental Existential Dimensions of Human Living & Inherent Paradoxes and Conflicts 10.30 - 10.40: Coffee break 10.40 - 12.00: Psychological Disturbances and Suffering. How do we live with problems with courage and a greater engagement? How do we find meaning in life when happiness is lost? 12.00 - 13.00: Lunch 13.00 - 14.00: Living with Emotions. 14.30 - 15.00: Coffee break 15.00 - 16.00: Happiness & Emotional Well Being Existential Therapy: Perspectives on Psychological Disturbances, Happiness and Emotional Well Being.
  3. 3. What are the human issues we are facing and how can counselling & psychotherapy help us find the path to a better life?
  4. 4. www.nspc.org.uk www.emmyvandeurzen.com www.societyofpsychotherapy.org.uk Facebook and LinkedIn: Existential Therapy www.existentialpsychotherapy.net www.icecap.org.uk www.dilemmas.org www.existentialacademy.com
  5. 5. Emmy van Deurzen  PhD, MPhil, MPsych, CPsychol, FBPsS, UKCPF, FBACP, ECP, HPC reg •Visiting Professor Middlesex University -UK •Director Dilemma Consultancy •Director Existential Academy •Principal New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling - London
  6. 6. Past  Classical education Netherlands (The Hague)  Philosophy masters, Montpellier with Michel Henry (France)  Clinical psychology masters, Bordeaux with Jack Doron (France)  Doctorate in social science: City University with Alfons Grieder (London)  Worked in psychiatry for seven years-private practice since 1978, Lacanian, psychodrama and group therapy training  London 1977-78: Arbours and PA followed by Esalen, USA, Gestalt and bioenergetics  1982: created first masters in existential therapy
  7. 7. Books by Emmy
  8. 8. most relevant for today: 2009 book on happiness
  9. 9. 3d edition of Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy in practice or Everyday Mysteries, 2nd edition or Skills book for intro
  10. 10. Existential Approach  A philosophical method for understanding a person’s difficulties in living  Enabling people to be more aware of their own existence  Through dialogue it shows the limits, paradoxes, conflicts and contradictions of life.
  11. 11. Existential Therapy  Talking about your troubles is only helpful if you can talk through them in constructive dialogue taking you beyond blame and shame.  No pathology  Focus on Problems in Living  Philosophical view of human existence
  12. 12. Aim of existential therapy.  Enable people to tell the truth about their lives and themselves  Help them live passionately and to the full taking authority over their destiny  Facilitate greater understanding of the human condition and its purpose  To think for themselves and live more freely, responsibly, passionately and compassionately  Recognize strengths and weaknesses and make the most of both
  13. 13. Leave behind the dark ages of therapy : an open, collaborative quest for truth rather than a dogmatic one
  14. 14. Understanding connections.  Helping persons to understand their difficulties aims at exploring as much of the web of their lives as is possible, focussing not on one particular line but on the connections between as many lines as show themselves.  (Cohn, in Existential Perspectives, 2005:226)
  15. 15. Asking Questions and Reflect: a search for truth
  16. 16. Focus of existential therapy  Ontological questions  Addressed by tackling everyday ontic problems
  17. 17. Framework  Asking the BIG QUESTIONS  What does it mean to be alive?  Why is there something rather than nothing?  How should I act and be in relation to other people?  How can I live a worthwhile life?  What will happen after I die?
  18. 18. Existential Authors Philosophers of Freedom Phenomeno- logists Existentialists Post- Structuralists Existential- Humanists Sðren Kierkegaard 1813-1855 Franz Brentano 1838-1917 Jean Paul Sartre 1905-1980 Michel Foucault 1926-1984 Martin Buber 1878-1965 Friedrich Nietzsche 1844-1900 Edmund Husserl 1859-1938 Maurice Merleau Ponty 1908-1961 Emmanuel Levinas 1905-1995 Paul Tillich 1886-1965 Arthur Schopenhauer 1788-1860 Karl Jaspers 1883-1969 Simone de Beauvoir 1908-1986 Paul Ricoeur 1913-2005 Rollo May 1909-1994 Fyodor Dostoyevski 1821-1881 Martin Heidegger 1889-1976 Gabriel Marcel 1889-1973 Jacques Lacan 1901-1981 Hannah Arendt 1906-1975 Karl Marx 1818-1883 Max Scheler 1874-1928 Albert Camus 1913-1960 Jacques Derrida 1930-2004 Abraham Maslow 1908-1970
  19. 19. Existential Philosophers  Kierkegaard Nietzsche Husserl Jaspers Heidegger Sartre de Beauvoir Buber Camus Merleau Ponty Foucault
  20. 20. Existential Practitioners  Ludwig Binswanger: 1881-1966.  Karl Jaspers: 1883-1969.  Paul Tillich: 1886-1965.  Medard Boss: 1904-1990.  Viktor Frankl: 1905-1997.  Rollo May: 1909-1994.  Ronald Laing: 1927-1989.
  21. 21. Existential Practitioners  Binswanger Boss Frankl  Tillich May Laing
  22. 22. Existential Practitioners Early psychiatrists Humanistic psychologists British alternative Recent Americans Recent British Ludwig Binswanger 1881-1966 Paul Tillich 1886-1965 George Kelly 1905-1967 James Bugental 1915-2008 Hans Cohn 1916-2004 Karl Jaspers 1883-1969 Carl Rogers 1902-1987 Aaron Esterson 1923-1999 Thomas Szasz 1920-2012 Freddie Strasser 1924-2008 Eugene Minkowski 1885-1972 Rollo May 1909-1994 Ronald Laing 1927-1989 Irvin Yalom 1931- Ernesto Spinelli 1949- Medard Boss 1904-1990 Viktor Frankl 1905-1997 David Cooper 1931-1986 Kirk Schneider 1956- Emmy van Deurzen 1951-
  23. 23. www.existentialpsychotherapy.net
  24. 24. No prescription  Existential therapy does not have to impose rules for living.  Uncover the laws of life  Recover our capacity to trust in life  Be inspired once again when we were despondent, forlorn, forsaken, desperate or confused.
  25. 25. Living matters. Life is short.  We don’t know how to live well or right  Living is not easy  Much of psychopathology is rooted in a lack of understanding of human existence
  26. 26. Meaning and Purpose  Find out what is meaningful  Find out what your purpose in life is and take it seriously.  Engage with it and work for it in truth and with dedication.  Come what may, follow your dreams and make sure your actions match your dreams. 
  27. 27. Landscapes of our life • Understand the Lebenswelt: the world in which we live. How do we co-constitute the world?
  28. 28. Buber’s encounter  The interhuman: das Zwischenmenschlichen; the in-between is where real communication takes place (Buber, Between Man and Man, 1929).  All actual life is encounter (ibid: 62)  This is where truth is found.  In inter-subjectivity we create the world in which we live together: I-It or I-Thou.
  29. 29. Boundaries and consistency  When we ‘care about’ someone, what we ‘care for’ is their autonomy.  Consistent and clear boundaries lead to trust.  Living a meaningful life means to acknowledge and live within the boundaries of existence.
  30. 30. Directive or non directive?  The existential therapist is purposeful (directional) rather than directive. Also direct.  Non-directiveness denies autonomy and can easily lead to stagnation  A productive therapeutic relationship will be challenging to both people  Clients will value a therapist who is willing to stand with them, but who can also teach them something new about life
  31. 31. Good disclosure  Make sure you disclose in the client’s interest  Is there a less self disclosing way of making the point?  Answering direct questions is fine, briefly, returning to the client’s point as soon as possible  Volunteering personal information is ok when 1. Client needs example or inspiration 2. Your info is not self indulgent, but engaging 3. Is about something in the past 4. About something you have resolved
  32. 32. Signs of inauthentic living  referring to others for guidance about what is true or what we should do, or  being unduly influenced by the opinions of society, of the anonymous voice of the imagined ‘They’ as Heidegger puts it, or  blaming others for our predicament and not owning our responsibility for it, or  pretending that life has determined our situation and character so much that we have no choices left, or  expecting life to be perfect, fantasising about the problem-free life that is 'just around the corner' or,  trying to find out the underlying 'cause' of our difficulties in living, believing this to be the ‘solution’.
  33. 33. Camus: Sisyphus’ plight Enable people to tackle the important issues  There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is … whether life is or is not worth living. (Camus: The Myth of Sisyphus)  Is rolling the stone up the hill sufficient to fill a human heart?: meaning is found because of challenges, not despite them
  34. 34. There is no abstract ethics. There is only an ethics in a situation and therefore it is concrete. An abstract ethics is that of the good conscience. It assumes that one can be ethical in a fundamentally unethical situation. (Sartre, Notes For an Ethics:17) Sartre’s existential ethics
  35. 35. Is human emotional suffering avoidable? Or does the road of life inevitably take us through lows and into dark and scary places?
  36. 36. Is happiness desirable? Ordoesitsoftenusand stopusreflectonlife?
  37. 37. HUMAN CONDITION Understanding the way in which we strugg with the human condition and how th struggle leads to the experience
  38. 38. Existential Therapy Understanding human difficulties, conflicts, paradoxes, dilemmas, contradictions, predicaments  Working with philosophical methods, amongst which phenomenology, dialectics, maieutics, hermeneutics and heuristic methods.
  39. 39. Where do I come from? Scandinavian Viking, Danish aristocrat, political/religious leader banished Bismarck, copper smith Central European gypsy, Dutch barge skippers, farmers, art experts, head of antiques auction
  40. 40. Grew up after WW2 in war torn Netherlands
  41. 41. Terror of Cold War period especially Suez crisis and nuclear threat
  42. 42. Classical education
  43. 43. Asking Questions and Reflect
  44. 44. How to live? What is truth? What is the ultimate value of life?
  45. 45. What do we do when crisis hits? In the whirlwind of change we need to find steadiness, persistence and resilience: we need purpose
  46. 46. Nobody is spared crisis, Conflict or LOSS Are we ever prepared for the life changing challenges?
  47. 47. Even if you play it safe and try to avoid catastrophes You still need courage and persistence to brave unexpected blows of fate: many respond with anxiety and depression
  48. 48. Facts: depression  2-10% of European citizens experience depression related problems  Each year: 33.4 million Europeans suffer  Inability to feel pleasure, tiredness, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness and feelings of guilt  Most suicides (30-88%) related to it  60.000 deaths by suicide p.a. in the EU (2X > road acc)  Most common cause of disability in the world, strongly associated with heart disease in linear causal fashion  Total cost p/a: UK: £15 billion USA: $100 billion  Last decade: EU and WHO policy to promote mental health
  49. 49. Facts: anxiety  Often considered in relation to stress  Estimated 15.7 million Americans are affected each year  12% of European population at any time  The core features of GAD are chronic (>6 months) anxious worrying with symptoms of hyper vigilance, hyper arousal and tension  International study: 5.6 to 18.1% for anxiety disorders, of which GAD and panic disorder together accounted for over half of the prevalence figures (Baumeister & Hartner, 2007).  But also Phobias, Panic, OCD, PTSD, SAD (social anx)  NICE figures: cost of anxiety in EU: 41 billion Euros (2004 prices)  Long term use of benzodiazepines (Xanax, Librium, Valium, Ativan): worsens it
  50. 50. Size and burden of mental disorders  Most frequent disorders: anxiety (14%), insomnia (7%), major depression (6.9%), somatoform (6.3%), alcohol and drug dependency (4%), ADHD (5%) dementia (1-30%)  38.2%, i.e. 164.8 million persons affected per year.  Percentage of disorders of brain: 26.6%, headache, sleep apnoea, stroke (8.24), dementia, brain injury, epilepsy, parkinsons, ms, brain tumours (overlap)
  51. 51. People crave happiness and want to eliminate their symptoms in 2010 some 16 million prescriptions were issued for anti-depressants in the UK: a 10% rise on the previous year. Iceland: 9%
  52. 52. SSRIs: Happy pills?
  53. 53. SSRIs as panacea especially with anxiety, but also NRIs and SNRIs selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Fluoxetine, Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft) noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (Reboxetine, Edronax, Mazanor) Serotonine- norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (Venlafaxine) (anxiety, ADHD)  From 2006 to 2010: 43% increase in prescriptions for the SSRI antidepressants  2009 BMJ paper titled "Explaining the rise in antidepressant prescribing’’: SSRIs are given for all sorts of problems  2000-2005: already 36% increase in SSRI
  54. 54. How do people end up so overwhelmed by their emotional experience? Despair leads to loss of self worth anic at coping alone leads to crippling anxiety significantly increases mortality
  55. 55. People expect to feel good But life is not an eternal spring..
  56. 56. Unhappiness is not an illness Many people take the view they deserve happiness  On this view, things like love, friendship, meaningful activity, freedom, human development, or the appreciation of true beauty are ‘‘merely’’ instrumentally valuable for us, i.e. they are not good as ends but merely as means to the only thing that is good as an end, namely happiness. Bengt Brulde 2006.
  57. 57. What happens when life is hard? Migrant mother in USA depression 1936
  58. 58. Nazi occupation of Paris
  59. 59. Buchenwald
  60. 60. Auschwitz
  61. 61. Biafra1967
  62. 62. Survival is an issue
  63. 63. Resilience  How do we overcome obstacles?  How do we survive difficulties, crises, trauma?  How do we rise above adversity?  Are there personal qualities that enable a person to be resilient?  Think about times in your life when you have faced adversity, difficulty or crisis.  How did you overcome them?
  64. 64.  Man’s task is simple: he should cease letting his existence be a thoughtless accident Friedrich Nietzsche: The Gay Science
  65. 65. Reality is: we all despair!  All of us are disappointed, dissatisfied, disenchanted at times.  We get sad and depressed.  Seligman (1973) has described depression as, `The common cold of psychopathology, at once familiar and mysterious’
  66. 66. Holmes and Rahe scale of stressful events Death of spouse 100 Divorce 73 Marital separation 65 Jail term 63 Death of close family member 63 Personal injury or illness 53 Marriage 50 Fired at work 47 Marital reconciliation 45
  67. 67. Holmes and Rahe Retirement 45 Change in health of a family member 44 Pregnancy 40 Sex Difficulties 39 Gain of new family member 39 Business readjustment 39 Change in financial state 38 Death of close friend 37 Change to different line of work 36 Change in number of arguments with spouse 35 Mortgage over $100,000 31 Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30 Change in responsibilities at work 29
  68. 68. Holmes and Rahe Other Life Events Son or daughter leaving home Trouble with in-laws Outstanding personal achievement Wife begins or stops work Begin or end school Change in living conditions Revision in personal habits Trouble with boss Change in work hours or conditions Change in residence Change in schools Change in recreation
  69. 69. Holmes and Rahe Change in church activities Change in social activities Mortgage or loan less than $30,000 Change in sleeping habits Change in number of family get-togethers Change in eating habits Vacation Christmas alone Minor violations of the law
  70. 70. Things can be a lot worse Iraqi refugees who dare not go back home
  71. 71. Syrian refugees in Turkey
  72. 72. Reduced to standing in line
  73. 73. Life reduced to rubble No safety
  74. 74. Sudanese refugees no more land, water or hope
  75. 75. Sami people in Lapland losing land to mining
  76. 76. Greece economic crisis 2012
  77. 77. Suffering and learning and the learning is always personal
  78. 78. 9/11/01 NYC
  79. 79. Pain remains for fire fighter wife, 2013
  80. 80. Japanese girl in Quarantine after nuclear disaster 2011
  81. 81. Homes devastated in Alabama tornado 2011
  82. 82. Coffins arriving from Afghanistan at Wootton Bassett, UK, 2011
  83. 83. Outdoor lessons in Aghanistan
  84. 84. Myanmar disaster Thai refugees,2013
  85. 85. Korean ferry disaster 2014
  86. 86. We cannot avoid all danger and all problems and need to learn to cope  It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life.  Where you stumble lies your
  87. 87. Being lost and finding something new  Heidegger’s aletheia (ἀλήθεια): truth means: unveiling the hidden  In loss we become homeless, Unheimlich and are forced to find ourselves for the first time.
  88. 88. Shock to one’s system of meaning.  In crisis the connections we rely on to find security and our identity are shaken up at the roots  Everything is in question and we can no longer trust in life, other people, ourselves, fate or gods  We can no longer take things for granted
  89. 89. On Dying: Elizabeth Kubler- Ross  denial  anger  bargaining  depression : reactive or preparatory  acceptance  hope
  90. 90. Laing: Breakthrough in stead of breakdown.  Loss and transition are about breakdown of the old.  Instead of breaking down and becoming depressed it can mean we break through some block and move on to a next level.  In the process we become stronger.  We establish values that are more deeply rooted.
  91. 91. What meaning after crisis?  Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked.  In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p.172
  92. 92. Frankl’s way to meaning •Experiential values: what we take from the world. •Creative values: what we give to the world. •Attitudinal values : the way we deal with suffering.
  93. 93. What are your values?  Experiential? What external experiences make you feel most happy?  Creative? What do you contribute to the world?  Attitudinal? How do you cope with suffering?
  94. 94. We need problems and challenges: to learn and evolve  Camus:  In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer  Happiness is nothing except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads
  95. 95. In darkness we learn about the depth of life The discipline of suffering, of great suffering — do you not know that only this discipline has created all enhancements of man so far? (Nietzsche, 1886/1990: 225)
  96. 96. Dialectics  Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.  Human evolution proceeds with constant conflict and forward movement in overcoming a previous state.  Paradoxes, conflicts and dilemmas are integrated and gone beyond.  Perhaps this is the true purpose of life and suffering: to learn, surpass and evolve.
  97. 97. Taoism: Yin (moon/dark/ female) and Yang (light/sun/male)
  98. 98. Chiaroscuro, clair-obscur, the light and shade of life
  99. 99. We need COURAGE Tillich’s Courage to Be:  Courage is the universal self-affirmation of one’s Being in the presence of the threat of non-Being(Tillich 1952:163).
  100. 100. Integrating non being: Paul Tillich: 1886-1965  A neurotic person can take on board only a little bit of non-being  The average person can take on a limited amount of non-being  The creative person can accommodate a large amount of non-being  God can tolerate an infinite amount of non- being.
  101. 101. Making sense of life High Big Far Good Low Small Near Bad
  102. 102. Energy is the flow between two poles Source: kidzoneweather.com
  103. 103. Dialectics: working with tension, dilemma, conflict, opposition, polarities, paradox  Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.  Human evolution proceeds with constant conflict and forward movement in overcoming a previous states.  Paradoxes and dilemmas are integrated and gone beyond.
  104. 104. Transcendence Thesis Antithesis Synthesis Dialectics
  105. 105. future Thesis: my view (past ) Antithesis: your view (present) Dialectics: transcendence in space and time Synthesis: a wider view
  106. 106. Existential Space Physical space Social space Personal space Spiritual space
  107. 107. DESIRES FEARS VALUES PHYSICAL life death vitality SOCIAL love hate reciprocity PERSONAL identity freedom integrity SPIRITUAL good evil transparency Human values rediscovered.
  108. 108. World: Dimension  Umwelt: Where and how? Mitwelt: With what? Eigenwelt: Who? Uberwelt: For what? Physical: survival Nature: senses Things Body Cosmos Social: affiliation Society: emotions Others Ego Culture Personal: identity Person: thought Me Self Consciousness Spiritual: meaning Infinite: intuition Ideas Spirit Conscience Different dimensions of human relationships at different levels of existence
  109. 109. Overview of conflicts, challenges and paradoxes on four dimensions World Umwelt Mitwelt Eigenwelt Uberwelt Physical Nature: Life/ Death Things: Pleasure/ Pain Body: Health/ Illness Cosmos: Harmony/ Chaos Social Society: Love/ Hate Others: Dominance/S ubmission Ego: Acceptanc e/ Rejection Culture: Belonging/ Isolation Personal Person: Identity/Freed om Me: Perfection/ Imperfection Self: Integrity/ Disintegratio n Consciousness: Confidence/ Confusion Spiritual: Infinite: Good/ Evil Ideas: Truth/ Untruth Spirit: Meaning/ Futility Conscience: Right/ Wrong
  110. 110. Dimensions of life
  111. 111. Paradoxes of human existence challenge gain loss Physical Death and pain Life to the full Unlived life or constant fear Social Loneliness and rejection Understand and be understood Bullying or being bullied Personal Weakness and failure Strength and stamina Narcissism or self destruction Spiritual Meaning- Lessness and futility Finding an ethics to live by Fanaticism or apathy
  112. 112. What stops us? The fear of truth which is the fear of freedom Sartre’s Truth and Existence, 1989:34.  ‘  Facing truth is the first step to freedom  We need to find a new path and new direction  We have to carry on and find a new way
  113. 113. Hold strong, even though we are afraidSouth Sudan soldier before liberation
  114. 114. Prisoner defying Himmler
  115. 115. Show courage and defiance Tank man in Tiananman Square 1989
  116. 116. Onto-dynamics  Learning to live in line with the laws of life  Paradox, conflict, difficulty and dilemmas are our daily companions  When crisis comes we need to have the courage to descend to rock bottom  From there we can build something better  Important to take context, political, cultural and social into account
  117. 117. Images of happiness  Walhalla, Utopia, el Dorado, Garden of Eden, Nirvana, Land of the Lotus eaters
  118. 118. What is happiness anyway? Classic distinction hedonism/eudaimonia  Positive emotion: feeling good  Life satisfaction (Diener): an evaluation of overall picture of one’s life  Absence of problems: having a good time  Contentment or state of harmony  Elation or bliss and ecstasy  An aim which is always elusive
  119. 119. Problems with happiness  Nagel’s post accident situation of not having a care in the world, yet being pitied: happy fool (View from Nowhere, 1986).  If pleasure or feeling good is the goal, then what of Nozick’s ‘experience machine’ (1974)?  Need for pleasure is addictive and undermines happiness  Pure happiness is unrealistic: not true to life.
  120. 120. Tree of Knowledge and Exile from Paradise: human evolution.  Kierkegaard: the Fall : tragedy or necessary and beneficial?  After Eden: knowledge of good and evil  Return to Eden is not the objective  Rather to live with consciousness and learn
  121. 121.  Greater values than happiness:  love, truth, beauty, loyalty, honour, courage, freedom.
  122. 122. Hedonism or Eudaimonia: are we after ease or do we seek to live well? www.existentialacademy.com 123  Aristotle’s Eudaimonia: value based  Or a banker’ version of value: how big was your bonus?
  123. 123. Global map of Well Being 2006 (or affluence/prosperity)
  124. 124. What is the Happy Planet Index?  Global measure of sustainable well-being: the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them.  The 2012 HPI report ranks 151 countries based on their efficiency – the extent to which each nation produces long and happy lives per unit of environmental input.
  125. 125. How is the Happy Planet Index calculated?  Experienced well-being x Life expectancy  Divided by Ecological Footprint  The website www.happyplanetindex.org  Well Being measured by Gallup World Poll Ladder of Life: 0-10 rating  Life expectancy: average age people can expect to reach  Ecological Footprint: WWF measure of per capita hectares of land required to sustain consumption pattern
  126. 126. Happy Planet Index
  127. 127. Can we have enduring happiness ?  Happiness and unhappiness are twins that grow up together. (Nietzsche, 1882: 270)
  128. 128. Dangers of complacency  1994 study Galen Bodenhausen: students in happy mood more keen to condemn their less privileged peers  Diener’s follow up study: happy kids drop out of college more, earn less later on  June Gruber: happiness good but you can have too much of it  Iris Mauss: happiness leads to lack of training for crisis
  129. 129. Don’t lose yourself when life is tough  The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work. Harry Golden
  130. 130. The art of living is to be equal to all our emotions rather than to select and cultivate only the pleasant ones
  131. 131. Tuning into our feelings in order to move towards understanding  A pathway towards the light of understanding
  132. 132. We have learnt to deal in emoticons
  133. 133. Your own little sphere of existence matters
  134. 134. Imagine a person like a sphere
  135. 135. That person is located in a universe with other planets, stars, suns, moons and spheres
  136. 136. Sphere as a planet or a cell: micro or macro level.
  137. 137. If a cell: connection with other cells, function and internal constitution are paramount
  138. 138. If planet: orbit and position matter
  139. 139. Merleau Ponty: Visible and Invisible  Things are structures – frameworks – the stars of our life: they gravitate around us. Yet there is a secret bond between us and them – through perception we enter into the essence of the flesh (Visible and Invisible: 220)
  140. 140. A fractal universe: patterns of leaf veins repeat
  141. 141. Going into the molecules at the quantum level: we discover whole worlds of atoms and anti-matter
  142. 142. Other end of spectrum: into infinity: galaxies and black holes
  143. 143. Feeling our own feelings The universe is our location We are part of it We are also an entire universe of our own: the human universe Each of us is a universe to ourselves.
  144. 144. You experience yourself as having a nucleus: a core, a heart or a soul
  145. 145. Solar anatomy
  146. 146. Layers of the sun  Corona, chromosphere, photosphere, convection zone, and core.
  147. 147. Perhaps we are more like suns, generating heat and light
  148. 148. Merleau Ponty: soul  The soul is the hollow of the body, the body is the distension of the soul. The soul adheres to the body as their signification adheres to the cultural things, whose reverse or other side it is. (233)
  149. 149. Layers of a person’s life. 4.Physical: Umwelt 3.Social: Mitwelt 2.Personal: Eigenwelt 1.Spiritual: Uberwelt
  150. 150. Spiritual: Good/Evil Intuitions, values, beliefs, purpose, meaning. Worldview/Ideas. Personal: Strength/Weakness Thoughts, memories, identity, freedom. Selfhood/Me. Social: Love/Hate Feelings, relations, belonging, acknowledgement. Communication/Others. Physical: Life/Death Sensations, actions, environment, body, things. Survival/World. Dimensions of existence
  151. 151. Different quality of experience at each dimension
  152. 152. Befindlichkeit  Befindlichkeit, attunement, disposition or state of mind: the way I find myself. The way I am situated in the world, disposed towards it. Affectedness: an implicit understanding of the world, not yet articulated. (later: understanding and language)  In an ontic fashion every moment of our experience will be coloured by a particular tonality, or mood (Stimmung).
  153. 153. Emotions are our orientation.  Emotions are like the weather: never none.  They are the way we relate to the world.  They define the mood of the moment.  They are our atmosphere and modality.  They tell us how and where we are.  They show us what we want and don’t want  Learn to tune in rather than tune out.
  154. 154. Freedom and the brain: connectivity is everything The more explicit we can make our experience the more connected we become. Each feeling left goes into implicit rather than explicit memory. The more organized our connections, the greater the freedom. Pre-frontal lobes, rather than just limbic system.
  155. 155. Emotions and values Emotions are always experienced in relation to values and beliefs and principles. They are our response to and message about our ideologies
  156. 156. Ideologies, values and transcendence Polytheism: Many Gods Monotheism: One God Marxism: Society as God Psychology: Individual as God Atheism: No God Science: Fact are God Humanism: Mankind as God Agnosticism: Don’t know God Pantheism: All is God
  157. 157. Classic solutions dealing with emotions by changing your values/beliefs  It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live (Marcus Aurelius).  The un-reflected life is not worth living (Socrates)
  158. 158. Early therapists  Gilgamesh (Noah) 2750 BC  Dwaipayana (Krishna) 1500 BC  Moses 1400-1280 BC  Zoroaster 630 -553 BC  Lao-Tze 604- 531 BC  Gautama Buddha 563 –510 BC  Confucius 557- 479 BC
  159. 159. Wide range of Athenian and Roman philosophies  Plato 427 – 347 BC  Diogenes 413 - 323 BC  Aristotle 384 – 322 BC  Epicurus 341 – 270 BC  Zeno 335 – 263 BC  Cicero 106 – 43 BC  Lucretius 98 – 51 BC  Jesus Christ 4 BC – 29 AD  Seneca 1 AD - 65 AD  Epictetus 55 - 135  Marcus Aurelius 21 - 180
  160. 160. Socrates: 469 –399 BC  Preceded by Heraclitus 540 –480 BC and Parmenides 515- 450 BC  Taught his students how to examine life: cultivating the love of wisdom.  Get out of the cave, in which we are chained in ignorance living amongst shadows.  Rediscover the light of truth about life.
  161. 161. Socrates The unreflective life is not worth living
  162. 162. Aristotle  Eudaimonia: the good life : virtue ethics  Should benefit the community at large rather than only the individual  Philosophy teacher's discourse with the pupil (client) should be a co-operative, critical one that insists on the virtues of orderliness, deliberateness and clarity
  163. 163. Aristotelian practice  Pupils are taught to separate true beliefs from false beliefs and to modify and transform their passions accordingly  Winnowing and sifting opinions  Virtue ethics: live in line with the demon: force, power, spirit.
  164. 164. Epicureans  The Epicureans seek to treat human suffering by removing corrupting desires and by eliminating pain and disturbance (ataraxia).  Adjust values retaining only those that are attainable and may bring pleasure.  Relinquish the unobtainable and adjust expectations to what is realistic, so that with a slight of hand we can obtain what we think we want.
  165. 165. From Socrates to Epicures  Dialectical investigation and critical thinking are replaced with formulae and communal living enforces the creed.  Epicures understood something that neither Plato nor Aristotle had fully grasped, i.e., that false beliefs are often settled deep in the soul and that they may not be available for argument.
  166. 166. Skeptics Pyrrho of Elis (c. 360-275 B.C.)  The Epicurean view is that pleasure is the only good and we are taught to adjust our needs so as to guarantee the procurement of pleasure from small natural resources.  Skeptics: the only way to stop pain and suffering is to simply not believe in or desire anything.  So whilst Epicureans try to get rid of false beliefs, the Skeptics want to get rid of all beliefs.
  167. 167. Stoics: overcoming weakness  Ordering of the self and soul  Exercise of the mind  Lack of moral fibre and emotional weakness  Everything is connected, but Stoics consider that different temperaments need different approaches and that there is a critical moment (kairos) for change :  Zeno: virtue is its own reward
  168. 168. Stoic goal  For the Stoics the pupil's goal is to become his own teacher and pupil  In order to improve a person's life the soul must be exercised everyday, for instance by the use of logic and poetry  The objective is wisdom, the only ultimate value and virtue and leads to eudaimonia, the flourishing life: wisdom, courage, justice, temperance  The means: detachment and self-control : apathy
  169. 169. Spinoza-ethics  Prop.VI. The mind has greater power over the emotions and is less subject thereto, in so far as it understands all things as necessary. (under a species of eternity)
  170. 170. Sartre Theory of Emotions  The existence of desire as a human fact is sufficient to prove that human reality is a lack. (87)  Human reality is its own surpassing towards what it lacks; it surpasses itself toward the particular being which it would be if it were what it is. (89)
  171. 171. Sartre’s emotional theory  Embodied human existence mobilizes itself towards or away from that which it desires or dreads.  We can do magic in letting ourselves fall into emotion, thus transforming the world in bad faith.  Difference between reflective and non reflective emotions.
  172. 172. Project  Man is characterized above all by his going beyond a situation and by what he succeeds in making of what he has been made.  This going beyond we find at the very root of the human- in need. (scarcity)  This is what we call the project. (elementary objective, original intention) (Sartre, Search for a Method:91)
  173. 173. Emotion classification tree Virginia Teller.
  174. 174. Lövheim cube of emotion
  175. 175. pride jealousy anger- despair fear sorrowshame envy hope- desire love joy Sadness Low Happiness High Anxiety Excitement Engagement Depression Disappointment Disengagement Compass of emotions evd 10
  176. 176. Four kinds of emotions • Loss of value • Aspire to value • Threat to value • Gain value approach fight flightfreeze
  177. 177. Threat to value: pride, jealousy, anger Pride Jealousy Anger
  178. 178. Loss of value (despair, fear, sorrow): Despair, fear, sorrow
  179. 179. Aspire to value: desire, envy, shame Desire Envy Shame
  180. 180. Gain value: hope, love, joy Hope, love, joy
  181. 181. Physical: things Social: others Personal: self Spiritual: ideas Four relational layers
  182. 182. World: Dimension  Umwelt: Where and how? Mitwelt: With what? Eigenwelt: Who? Uberwelt: For what? Physical: survival Nature: senses Things Body Cosmos Social: affiliation Society: emotions Others Ego Culture Personal: identity Person: thought Me Self Consciousness Spiritual: meaning Infinite: intuition Ideas Spirit Conscience Different dimensions of human relationships at different levels of existence
  183. 183. Overview of conflicts, challenges and paradoxes on four dimensions World Umwelt Mitwelt Eigenwelt Uberwelt Physical Nature: Life/ Death Things: Pleasure/ Pain Body: Health/ Illness Cosmos: Harmony/ Chaos Social Society: Love/ Hate Others: Dominance/Sub mission Ego: Acceptance/ Rejection Culture: Belonging/ Isolation Personal Person: Identity/Freedom Me: Perfection/ Imperfection Self: Integrity/ Disintegration Consciousness: Confidence/ Confusion Spiritual: Infinite: Good/ Evil Ideas: Truth/ Untruth Spirit: Meaning/ Futility Conscience: Right/ Wrong
  184. 184. 1:Pride-confidence-arrogance-conceit 2:Jealousy-worry-vigilance-caution 3:Anger-hate-rage-despair 4:Fear-confusion-cowardice-alarm 5:Sorrow-misery-resignation-regretShame-emptiness-guilt-humilation:7 Envy-curiosity-aspiration-interest:8 Hope-desire-resolve-trust:9 Love-courage-commitment-vow:10 Joy-thrill-excitement-bliss:11 6. Low Despondency Depression Sadness Exhilaration Happiness Gladness 12:High Up gain Down loss Emotional Compass
  185. 185. How do we experience our world?  We are lenses, prisms for light to refract. We allow light through, reflect it, magnify it, block it, divert it. We change the tone and mood and affect the world in turn.
  186. 186. Tune into the feelings and moods that colour our worldview  They create different atmospheres at different times.
  187. 187. The colour of emotion
  188. 188. Depressed worldview
  189. 189. THE ART OF LIVING: HOW TO BE ON THE PATH OF LIFE? Understanding our emotions is the best way towards understanding our mode of being and our values. Living with our emotions is the path to our elemental objectives
  190. 190. The art of living is to be equal to all emotions rather than to select only the pleasant ones
  191. 191. When the storm hits at sea we need to be prepared
  192. 192. pride jealousy anger- despair fear sorrowshame envy hope- desire love joy Sadness Low Happiness High Anxiety Excitement Engagement Depression Disappointment Disengagement
  193. 193. Greed Stinginess Frustration Disgust PainNeed Craving Excitement Lust Pleasure Deprivation Emptiness Satisfaction Fullness Gain Survival surprise Loss Threat shock Sensory Compass
  194. 194. Care Jealousy Anger Fear RejectionShame Envy Approval Love Acceptance Isolation Separateness Belonging Oneness Engagement Disengagement Emotional Compass
  195. 195. Superiority Stubbornness Defiance Deflation HumiliationInferiority Anxiety Courage Commitment Confidence Imperfection Weakness Perfection Strength Success Failure Mental Compass
  196. 196. Pride Prudence Wrath Resignation DisillusionmentGuilt Aspiration Hope Resoluteness Bliss Futility Absurdity Meaning Purpose Good Evil Moral Compass
  197. 197. Rising above your emotions  Above the clouds the weather is steady even when it rains below.  Transcending our own situation and emotions allows us to understand our own response.
  198. 198. Bringing down emotional intensity: painting the world pale or in pastel shades
  199. 199. Anxiety as source of energy Anxiety is life energy rather than a symptom of illness When we face the responsibility of making something out of nothing we become anxious
  200. 200. Heidegger and anxiety  Anxiety individualizes. This individualization brings Dasein back from its falling, and makes manifest to it that authenticity and inauthenticity are possibilities of its Being. (Heidegger 1927:191)
  201. 201. Going beyond happiness  Happiness as a high is doomed: every high is followed by a low.  Constant pleasure leads to addiction and misery.  Happiness as contentment may be more feasible, but could easily lead to mediocrity and lack of awareness.  Beyond the quest for happiness is the quest for right living.  This is not just about meaning and purpose but about truth, being, nothingness, learning and evolution, dialectically integrating paradox.
  202. 202. Existential intelligence  Embracing existence in its contradictions and rising to its challenges.  Realizing that there is no such thing as a perfect human being.  Learning to be resilient and flexible enough to negotiate on-going paradoxes  Facing existential challenges in a personal and creative manner that allows for dialectic.
  203. 203. Emotional well being  An ability to creatively encounter challenges and crises.  Capacity for re-establishing equilibrium through strong, dynamic centre of narrative gravity.  Enhanced enjoyment of life, appreciation of physical world, others, self-worth and meaning.  True freedom is always spiritual. It has something to do with your innermost being, which cannot be chained, handcuffed, or put into a jail.  The Courage to Be Yourself
  204. 204. Making suffering meaningful  Processing is of prime importance.  Assimilate crisis and make it meaningful.  Process emotions, values, beliefs  Transcend and overcome.  Rise to the challenge  Find the purpose and meaning in the suffering
  205. 205. What helps?  Those who have experienced trauma do better if they have good social support.  They do significantly better if they have integrity and a sense of wholeness. (to survive trauma you either need good conscience or no conscience at all…)  The conflict or trauma has to be put to good use.  There has to be a safe place one can retreat to.  It makes a big difference whether you can take some responsibility for your fate.  It helps if you feel your trauma is in some ways a proof of your character or a building block of it.  If you can claim the crisis as part of your success rather than evidence of failure and bad character: making it count!
  206. 206. Resilience Physical: safety, sleep, food, comfort, survival, healing, repair, recovery Social: strong relationships, allow and understand emotions, belonging, caring, sharing, support Psychological: clear thinking, making sense, analysis, understanding, new perspective, taking charge, responsibility, character building Spiritual: review values, new vision, trust, transcendence, dialectic, stronger beliefs, meaning, purpose
  207. 207. Rita’s Grief  When I speak to Rita, who is grieving over her husband and small son who have perished in a car accident, the words that I say to her at first hardly reach her.  She is in a place of relative safety deep inside of herself, in a state of suspended animation behind the façade that she turns to the world. She barely engages with people at all.
  208. 208. Rita’s grief 2  At first it is not my words that make the link to her world, but the consistency that I can offer in being attentive and careful to not hurt her further or push her too hard.  I spend nearly half an hour in relative silence with Rita, at times formulating her fear on her behalf, gently, tentatively, checking for verification by noting her response.
  209. 209. Rita’s grief 3  Mostly the work consists of me letting myself be touched by her suffering and learning to tolerate her pain with her, so that I can offer reactions and words that soothe and move her forward to a place where she can begin to face what has happened to her so shockingly out of the blue. In this process she guides me and exposes more and more of her nightmarish universe to me as she perceives me as capable of venturing further into it with her.
  210. 210. Bringing down emotional intensity
  211. 211. Rita World Physical Social Personal Spiritual Umwelt Take interest in objects, space Meet others Relate to own body again Recognize value Mitwelt Leave dead behind Love dead still Find self valid Find others valid Eigenwelt Recover sense of self care Rediscover love Love self Find project Uberwelt Make sense of disaster Life with others is worthwhile I am me and this matters There is a purpose to it all
  212. 212. Rita World Physical Social Personal Spiritual Umwelt Take interest in objects, space Meet others Relate to own body again Recognize value Mitwelt Leave dead behind Love dead still Find self valid Find others valid Eigenwelt Recover sense of self care Rediscover love Love self Find project Uberwelt Make sense of disaster Life with others is worthwhile I am me and this matters There is a purpose to it all
  213. 213. Overview of conflicts, challenges and paradoxes on four dimensions World Umwelt Mitwelt Eigenwelt Uberwelt Physical Nature: Life/ Death Things: Pleasure/ Pain Body: Health/ Illness Cosmos: Harmony/ Chaos Social Society: Love/ Hate Others: Dominance/S ubmission Ego: Acceptanc e/ Rejection Culture: Belonging/ Isolation Personal Person: Identity/Freed om Me: Perfection/ Imperfection Self: Integrity/ Disintegratio n Consciousness: Confidence/ Confusion Spiritual: Infinite: Good/ Evil Ideas: Truth/ Untruth Spirit: Meaning/ Futility Conscience: Right/ Wrong
  214. 214. Dimension Positive Purpose Negative Concern Minimal Goal Optimal Value Physical: Health Illness Fitness Vitality Pleasure Pain Safety Well Being Strength Weakness Efficacy Ability Life Death Survival Existence Social Success Failure Skill Contribution Belonging Isolation Kinship Loyalty Acceptance Rejection Recognition Cooperation Love Hate Respect Reciprocity Personal Identity Confusion Individuality Integrity Perfection Imperfection Achievemen t Excellence Independenc e Dependenc y Autonomy Liberty Confidence Doubt Poise Clarity Spiritual Good Evil Responsibility Transparenc y
  215. 215. Spiritual: Integrate what has happened in world view Improve rather than give up values, beliefs, purpose, meaning. Stick with what is true. Personal: Allow the event to strengthen your character Express thoughts and memories. Regain a sense of freedom in relation to adversity. Learn to yield as well as be resolute. Social: Seek to go beyond hateful and destructive relations by isolation and avoidance till Reconciliation is possible. Seek belonging with like minded allies. Communicate your emotions without reproach, resentment, bitterness. Physical: Seek safety when under threat. Trust and heed sensations of stress. Find natural environment that can soothe as well as expand your horizons. OVERCOMING TRAUMA
  216. 216. How to create value in life?  Through committed and engaged action  Step by step  Diligently proceeding no matter what challenges come on your path  Steady progress comes from undaunted focus on your project  Flexibility and finding joy in the process rather than aiming for success or happiness
  217. 217. Our luck will change
  218. 218. We are united with what we love
  219. 219. Help others when possible bushfires in Victoria 2009
  220. 220. ake gestures of good will when possible Pentagon Vietnam protests: flower power
  221. 221. Loving your Life  Loving your fate and destiny in all its manifestations (Nietzsche’s Amor Fati)  Challenges and difficulties are not the enemy, nor to be avoided but rather to be welcomed as grist for the mill and par for the course: life as an adventure.
  222. 222. Chiaroscuro, claire- obscure, the light and shade of life
  223. 223. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  224. 224. Eventually: Earth Rises again 1968 picture from Apollo mission
  225. 225. www.existentialpsychotherapy.net www.icecap.org.uk www.dilemmas.org www.nspc.org.uk www.existentialacademy.com www.emmyvandeurzen.com Facebook and LinkedIn: Existential Therapy Podcast of Living with your Emotions on www.societyofpsychotherapy.org.uk