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Existential Psychology

What are the six ontological principles of Existential Psychology? What is the goal of integration? What is the core characteristics of personality? Provide one example of an existential theory.

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Existential Psychology

Six ontological principles:

1. Every person is centered in self and lives life through the meaning he or she places on that center.
2. Every person is responsible for mobilizing the courage to protect the self, to affirm it, and to enhance its continued existence.
3. People need other people with whom they can empathize and from whom they can learn.
4. People are vigilant about potential dangers to their identities.
5. People can be aware of themselves thinking and feeling at one moment and may be aware of themselves as the person who thinks and feels in the next moment.
6. Anxiety originates, in part, out of a person's awareness that one's being can end (http://psych.eiu.edu/spencer/Existential.html)

The following resource addresses the other questions, from which the above information is also drawn.

ARTICLE

Existential Psychology

Existential Psychology represents a synthesis of philosophy and psychology. The philosophical bases were formed by Kierkegaard and Heidegger. The most popular one-sentence summary is "existence precedes essence". The followers who have translated their thinking into statements about personality include the Europeans Ludwig Binswanger, Medard Boss, and Victor Frankl. Major American theorists include Rollo May and Paul Tillich, but I will also include some writings of Salvatore Maddi. The following notes represent an attempt at a synthesis of the writings of many theorists. I will not attempt to associate each concept with it's originator. You can get this detailed information in a graduate class. The writings of Rollo May are considered as a primary source.

Core of Personality

I. Core Tendency: To achieve authentic being. Being signifies the special quality of human mentality (aptly called intentionality), that makes life a series of decisions, each involving an alternative that precipitates persons into an unknown future and an alternative that pushes them back into a routine, predictable past. Choosing the future brings ontological anxiety (fear of the unknown), whereas choosing the safe status quo brings ontological guilt (sense of missed opportunity). Authenticity involves accepting this painful state of affairs and finding the courage or hardiness to persist in the face of ontological anxiety and choose the future, thereby minimizing ontological guilt.

II. Core Characteristics:

A. Being-in-the -world: This concept emphasizes the unity of person and environment, since, in this heavily phenomenological position, both are subjectively defined. Being-in-the-world has three components:

1. Umwelt ("world around") - the natural world of biological urge and drive.

2. Mitwelt ("with-world") - the social, interactive, interpersonal aspects of existence.

3. Eigenwelt ("own world") - the subjective, phenomenological world of the self.

B. Six ontological principles:

1. Every person is centered in self and lives life through the meaning he or she places on that center.

2. Every person is responsible for mobilizing the courage to protect the self, to affirm it, and to enhance its continued existence.

3. People need other people with whom they can empathize and from whom they can learn.

4. People are vigilant about potential dangers to their identities.

5. People can be aware of themselves thinking and feeling at one moment and may be aware of themselves as the person who thinks and feels in the next moment.

6. Anxiety originates, in part, out of a person's awareness that one's being can end.

C. The goals of integration:

May conceives of the human being as conscious of self, capable of intentionality, and needing to make choices. To do this we must recognize and confront the paradoxes of our lives. A paradox is too opposing things posited against each other all the while the fact is that they cannot exist without each other. Thus, good and evil; life and death; and beauty and ugliness appear to be at odds with each other, but the very confrontation with one breathes life and meaning into the other. The goals of integration include confronting one's potentialities for the daimonic, power, love, intentionality, freedom and destiny, and courage and creativity.

1. The Daimonic: This is defined as "any natural function that has the power to take over the whole person". Sex, anger, and power can become evil when they take over the self without integration. We are capable of both good and evil.

2. Power: Life can bee seen as a conflict between achieving a sense of significance of one's self on the one hand, and the feeling of powerlessness on the other. Violence has its breeding ground in impotence and apathy. As we make people powerless, we encourage violence, rather than control it.

3. Intentionality: Intentionality underlies any decision. It is "the structure which gives meaning to experience". It is the capacity to participate in knowing. How a piece of paper is perceived will differ depending on whether one intends to write on it or to make a paper airplane. May holds that we cannot know the truth until we have taken a stand on it.

4. Freedom and Destiny: Freedom is the capacity to pause (and make a choice) between a stimulus and a response. In the debate between dispositional and situational factors, there is a third alternative - human beings can choose when and whether they are to be acted upon or do the acting. To the extent that one is ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the six ontological principles of Existential Psychology. It provides an extensive overview of Existential Psychology, including the core characteristics of personality and development, the goal of integration, the steps to integration, etc. It also provides an example of an existential theory with a summary of important concepts, including how to approach schizophrenia from this perspective.

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