The distinguishing elements of a psychotherapy conducted from an existential orientation and holding humanistic values. Topics briefly dealt with include centering on process rather than content; authenticity of encounter; commitment; presence; concern; the subjective; intentionality vs. causality; and developing depth of inquiry. Didactic presentations, questions and discussion, and demonstrations.
Actually, namely historically (as well as autobiographically), "existentialism" preceded "concentration camp"- to be sure, existentialism only in the sense of something to teach and to learn, rather than - to live . .. Reminiscenses, episodes, and anecdotes will be illustrated by pertinent slides.
Existential psychotherapy is more properly viewed as a therapy informed by a sensibiity to existential issues, rather than as a discrete, self-contained school of therapy. It addresses the anxiety embedded in our consciousness of the parameters of existence, especially in our confrontation with death, meaninglessness, freedom, and isolation. I shall discuss these concerns, particularly those with the greatest relevance to everyday therapy practice. I shall discuss the implications of the existential sensibility for the conduct of therapy and the therapeutic relationship. Genuineness and authenticity are necessary.
Szasz considers the role of responsibility in religion, civil and criminal law, medicine and the mental health professions; the differences among existential responsibility, moral blameworthiness and legal accountability; that connections between (mental) competence and responsibility; and relates all of the above to problems in psychotherapeutic theory and practice.
Ronald Laing (1985) interviews a home-less woman diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Her presenting complaint is that her brain does not work right and that people are out to get her. Laing relates to the client and explores her theories of human conspiracy, the power of the mind and mind reading, issues of Christianity, and how these concepts relate to her.
Viktor Frankl (1990) shares his experiences living in a WW-II concentration camp. He teaches the importance of creating meaning in one’s life and the application of ethics in daily choices. He emphasizes the importance of reconciliation in contrast to collective guilt and the importance of finding meaningful responses to all forms of tragedy.
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