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New Existentialists

Burning The Promethean Man

09/18/2014
Burning The Promethean Man
I just returned from my fifth year at Burning Man, and like every other year, I was not disappointed. With all of the recent press coverage, both positive and negative, Black Rock City is beginning to give the impression of a trendy spectacle of hippy Zsas Zsas and Warhols, but I caution: nothing could be further from the truth. Before I went to Burning Man, I was told that there is no way I could possibly understand it unless I attended. I found this to be quite true. As an existentialist, I found Burning Man to be by far the most profoundly existential experience I’ve ever had. It...

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New Existentialists

Wu-Wei: How To Brew a Good Cup of Coffee (Part Three of a Four-Part Series)

09/17/2014
Wu-Wei: How To Brew a Good Cup of Coffee (Part Three of a Four-Part Series)
As I begin probing Ving for why it was that she is willing to make the sacrifice to become a better barista even after seven years of brewing endless cups of coffee for customers, I returned to the Chinese Taoist concept of wu-wei. Ving told me that she travelled to Taiwan to learn the techniques and know-how of what it took to become a good barista. However, that was just the beginning. Ving went on further to state that she would not hesitate to pass on her knowledge, recipes and techniques to me if I were interested in becoming a barista. However, this will turn me into a barista. So what...

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New Existentialists

Donuts and Existential Crisis

09/16/2014
Donuts and Existential Crisis
The problem with saying yes to one thing is you are thereby saying no to everything else. Yalom makes this point at least 63 times in his writing. I made that number up because I am too lazy, really, to track down any or all of the times he said it. So, I picked a number. Sixty-three is a good number, big enough to be implausible so you know I'm joking, not so big as to overdo it. Picking 63, I said no to 62, 61, and an infinite number of other numbers. What a mess. I hate choosing things. Most folks, they like to have choices. Not too many—just about eight is ideal. I hate it. I...

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New Existentialists

The 7 Unexpected-nesses of Fatherhood

09/15/2014
The 7 Unexpected-nesses of Fatherhood
It’s 4:30 am and somehow I couldn’t go back to sleep after feeding the baby. So a long black night it is, and some rare time for blogging. When I was preparing for marriage, one of the common refrains I heard was about how one can never fully prepare for husbandhood. We just take it as it comes. As we prepared for Xu Heng’s arrival, we heard the same refrain—this time a bit less, but no less prominently. I suppose, with the inherent perils and unknowns of something as dramatic as a pregnancy (trust me, it IS quite a dramatic process watching your wife’s tummy...

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New Existentialists

Existential Roundup

09/12/2014
Existential Roundup
Welcome to the Existential Roundup, where we bring you links to some articles currently trending that may be of interest to those in the existential-humanistic psychology community. Big in the news this week has been the videotape undeniable revealing the ugly truth that most people already knew, but now could no longer try to deny—that Ray Rice, now former football star for the Baltimore Ravens, had physically abused his then fiancée and now wife, Janay. Often, in existential psychology, we speak about subjective truths. But this videotape, showing Rice punching Janay in the...

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New Existentialists

Today is 9/11

09/11/2014
Today is 9/11
Today is 9/11. Thirteen years ago today, the world changed. Terror, trauma, and PTSD became household words. The world became divided between enemies and heroes, us versus them, good guys versus bad guys. Never before in our history had life been so black and white. At least not since the Cold War ended (us versus the evil Communism)… or since World War Two (us versus the evil Nazis and Fascists)… or World War One…(the war to end all war)… or cowboys and Indians, or Americans and Mexicans, or the British and American colonists or any other war going back into the...

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New Existentialists

Moving Forward by Returning to the Origin (Part Two of a Four-Part Series)

09/10/2014
Moving Forward by Returning to the Origin (Part Two of a Four-Part Series)
After learning about Ving’s decision, my friend Evone pointed out to me the beautiful paradox in Ving’s decision to “move forward by returning to the past/origin.” Exactly right, I thought to myself! This immediately reminded me of the vital importance of the basics and fundamentals when it comes to the practice of psychotherapy. In teaching how to conduct therapy informed by the humanistic-existential approach, I’m often faced with the question of what do I teach and demonstrate to students? When pondering this, I think back to a few things that my ballroom...

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New Existentialists

Returning Dignity to Politics

09/09/2014
Returning Dignity to Politics
25 years ago, the forces of historical determinism made a bold prediction: history had ended. Liberal Capitalism, according to Francis Fukuyama and his allies, was the only model of governance that made sense and served humankind’s self-interest—and therefore the only organizing principle of society that would remain in just a few years. This was a terrible prediction, but a useful experiment: the trouble with historical determinism up until this point was that it always demonstrated its inevitability after-the-fact. Hegel didn’t predict that Christianity was the epitome of...

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New Existentialists

Martyrs and Parasites: Walking the Line between Excessive and Insufficient Responsibility

09/08/2014
Martyrs and Parasites: Walking the Line between Excessive and Insufficient Responsibility
There are ultimately two kinds of people in the world: Those who care about others, and those who care only about themselves. This is, of course, an absurdly oversimplified categorization of human beings, and as a rule I generally oppose such absolute classifications. The actual reality, regardless of appearance, is that there are in fact no people who always care for others and never for themselves and vice versa; the most “selfless” among us likely prioritize themselves over others at times, and the most “selfish” among us have likely at some point acted in the best...

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New Existentialists

Existential Roundup

09/05/2014
Existential Roundup
Welcome to the Existential Roundup, where we bring you links to some articles currently trending that may be of interest to those in the existential-humanistic psychology community. Last week, we celebrated the back-to-school season with some recent articles and research on children and education. This week, we will look at another side of the equation—the parents. D. W. Winnicott famously taught us the concept of the “good-enough” parent. But these days, “good enough” is never enough. Psychology Today reports that parenting in the 21st century is now a...

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