Even in high school Frankl was developing a keen interest in existential philosophy and psychology. At the age of 16 he delivered a public lecture “On the Meaning of Life” and at 18 he wrote his graduation essay “On the Psychology of Philosophical Thought.”
Meaning is the quintessential existential topic. All topics lead to and are connected with meaning. An essential assumption of the existential theorists is that people are meaning-seeking creatures. It is meaning that can make existence bearable. Conversely, the lack of meaning is one of the greatest existential terrors.
Sep 26, 2020 · Existential positive psychology tries to help people achieve well-being and balance, allowing them to manage daily, recurring challenges. One of the most common criticisms of positive psychology and theorists such as Seligman or Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is that they focused exclusively on the healthy side of human beings.
Meaning in Positive and Existential Psychology presents a broad overview of contemporary empirical research and theoretical work on the meaning/purpose in life construct from two perspectives ...
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Frankl mainly refers to the "super-meaning" or to the ultimate meaning of life from a general existential or cosmological perspective -- not the personalized meaning in one individual's purpose in life, which is a different question (p. 74).
Existential psychology is the area within psychology most closely linked to the field of philosophy. Curiously, this provides one of the most common complaints against existential psychology. Many historians identify the establishment of Wilhelm Wundt’s experimental laboratory in Germany in 1879 as the official date of the founding of psychology.
Resolution may be obtained through an existential meaning system, to focus on existence rather than a spiritual or religious system that emphasizes metaphysical dimensions of meaning. I define ‘psycho-spiritual model’ as a way of understanding the connection of mind, body and spirit.
- Basic Tenets
- Strengths and Weaknesses
- Empirical Support
William James’s famous distinction between the “I” (subject) and the “me” (object) can be used to understand all phenomenological approaches to personality. The “I” refers to experience as it occurs for an individual (e.g., what it feels like to win an award). The “me” refers to how a person thinks about her- or himself as an object of knowledge (e.g., what someone thinks about her- or himself for having won an award). In the phenomenological model, the “I” and the “me” interact to give an individual’s self-consciousness its particular form. Phenomenological theorists focus on two kinds of subjective experience. The first is how people experience themselves in relation to others. An example is how a young girl experiences herself as her parents express disapproval of her behavior. People’s positive and negative experiences with others contribute to how they learn to value themselves, sometimes called self-regard. Carl Rogers was particularly concerned with conditions of worth—or exp...
A more European version of phenomenological theory, referred to as existentialism, also studies human experience and subjectivity, but the experiences upon which it focuses are loneliness, isolation, and death. Existential theorists believe that such ultimate concerns can be sources of a deeper personal meaning. The awareness of death in particular is considered to be uniquely human. Existentialist theorists also point out that some people seek constraint. They choose to distort their own experience in order to narrow their world and feel safer. They regard actively choosing a constrained self as self-deception and bad faith.
An important contribution of phenomenological theories is their focus on personal meaning, health, and growth. In many ways they are the immediate ancestors of what is currently called positive psychology. Phenomenological theorists are also psychology’s original advocates of the personality trait known as Openness to Experience. A related contribution of phenomenological theories is their emphasis on the uniqueness of individual persons. This uniqueness is easily lost in the statistical methods of scientific psychology that focus on average types. The narrative tradition in modern psychology emphasizes the individualist aspect of the phenomenological model by telling stories about people. These stories are supposed to contain information that is left out of statistical summaries. Finally, the common tenet of self-structure, where experiences congruent with that structure are accepted and experiences incongruent with that structure are rejected, has gained credence in both psychodyn...
Evaluating the “validity” of phenomenological theories of personality is a substantial challenge because phenomenological theory and the scientific tradition work from altogether different theories of knowledge. Phenomenological approaches are primarily interested in capturing the subjective reality of individual human beings. They propose that abstract concepts such as self-actualization, authenticity, meaning, and spirituality are essential to understanding what it means to be human. Concepts such as these are considered to be legitimate by phenomenology’s standards of validity because they appear in qualitative analyses of human subjectivity. However, the ability to evaluate the validity of phenomenological constructs using quantitative empirical hypothesis testing is limited. Despite problems in establishing the scientific validity of phenomenological postulates, empirical research does offer some support for Rogers’s personality theory. According to social psychologists, indivi...
Phenomenological psychology’s concepts such as self-actualization, authenticity, and congruence have considerable utility in the realm of personality theory and offer a persuasive depiction of human psychological life, but such concepts can become marginalized in the world of quantitative research due to their esoteric nature. Despite the widespread acceptance of the importance self-structure, phenomenological approaches are on the periphery of contemporary personality research. Even so, phenomenological methods of inquiry, such as narrative case studies, continue to provide rich, contextualized information about individual personality.
Rather, many of the existential-humanistic ideas that underlie self psychology's theory and way of working have been stated more succinctly, systematically, and in greater depth by these earlier existentialists and humanistic psychologists, and it would be worthwhile for self psychology theorists to study them and bring their ideas into self ...
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