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New Existentialists

Existential Roundup

10/31/2014
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. As today is Hallowe’en, a day that once marked the end of the harvest season one during which the veils between the living and the dead were quite thin and now seems inextricably tied to “spooky” tricks and candy corn, this week’s column will be looking at some of the oddities in the news of late. Just in case we haven’t heard enough frightening brain research that presents us with...

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New Existentialists

Magical Thinking as Self Empowerment: A Pagan Contribution to Psychotherapy and Counseling

10/30/2014
Magical Thinking as Self Empowerment: A Pagan Contribution to Psychotherapy and Counseling
This contribution is my 13th article for the New Existentialists. I have now contributed one for every lunar cycle over the past year, and I find myself in a celebratory mood as I reflect back over the past year of contributions. It is also fitting that I write this at the end of the old Celtic year, just a couple days before Samhain (Summer’s End), when the old planting year ends with the final blood harvest and the new one begins. Thirteen certainly does not feel unlucky or inauspicious for me; and at any rate I am far from being triskaidekaphobic. With that invocation of the fear and...

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New Existentialists

Post-Hysterectomy Epiphany

10/29/2014
Post-Hysterectomy Epiphany
Once upon a time, I remember hearing a teacher of developmental psychology say “the body is our first environment.” Indeed, it is the first place we live in and the place in which we will die. We are out body. Everything around us can change, and our bodies can also change. Still, it takes more work, and there are certainly things about our bodies that we cannot change. Unless some miraculous invention of modern medicine comes about, the lungs need air and the heart needs to keep beating. I recently had a partial hysterectomy. I took my time researching what this would mean for me...

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New Existentialists

Halloween: Sublimating Death Salience

10/28/2014
Halloween: Sublimating Death Salience
Sometimes, I want to shout at my son. I mean, I don't want to, but I experience a powerful urge to. But he's nine, and shouting at him wouldn't be helpful. It would damage the relationship and teach bullying. When this urge arises, sometimes, I take a page out of Carl Whitaker's book: I pretend to shout, mocking the angry man, aping myself and my own anger. It's hilarious, diffuses the tension, and makes the point: I'm angry but I don't want to be. This is sublimation as the mature form of denial. Rather than pretend not to be angry, for example, we acknowledge...

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New Existentialists

Waxing Existential: Why Holly Golightly Needs Her Story

10/27/2014
Waxing Existential: Why Holly Golightly Needs Her Story
In a recent article in The New York Times, entitled “Why Doctors Need Stories,” Peter Kramer makes the case for the use of the anecdote or vignette to fully understand a patient’s experience. Rather than relying on empirical data alone, doctors are factoring in patients’ narratives, viewing them as an important part of treatment. Kramer speaks of this in relation to his own work as a psychiatrist: In the past 20 years, clinical vignettes have lost their standing. For a variety of reasons, including a heightened awareness of medical error and a focus on cost cutting, we...

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Rethinking Complexity

Effective Teams Begin with Trust

10/24/2014
Effective Teams Begin with Trust
Dysfunctional teams can produce results, but not consistently and not over the long term. An effective team that produces results consistently requires many attributes, but they all must begin with trust.  More than anything else, trust enables people to work together effectively. Stephen M. R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust, says this workplace trust is a function of both character and competence. Character includes integrity, motives, and your intent with other people. Competence is your capabilities, skills, results and track record. Both are essential for trust. Trust lays the...

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New Existentialists

Existential Roundup

10/24/2014
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. With Hallowe’en approaching, it seems appropriate to start getting in the mood with a variety of treats, or maybe tricks, from the recent news. Recently, this column discussed the growing fears around the Ebola outbreaks. Even as write this, I am receiving breaking news emails that the latest confirmed case is now located just a few miles away from me, in Bellevue Hospital Center in New York. In his regular...

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New Existentialists

Live Like You Were Dyin'

10/23/2014
Live Like You Were Dyin'
Less than a week ago, I walked beside the hospital bed as my seven-year-old son was wheeled down the hallway to the procedure room where he would spend the next few hours. There, a catheter tube inserted through an artery in his leg would enter his heart and small pieces of tissue would be taken to test—this procedure is called a cardiac biopsy. This last one was the eighth time he’s had this procedure and it is still a harrowing experience, made worse now as he understands what is happening and can voice his fears. Just before he fell under the anesthesia, he said “I’...

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Rethinking Complexity

Keeping Team Members Engaged in a Distributed Workplace: Initial Thoughts for Discussion

10/22/2014
Keeping Team Members Engaged in a Distributed Workplace:  Initial Thoughts for Discussion
Organizations are a buzz with collaborative strategies. Increasingly, work environments are focusing on being team-oriented and enabling employees to establish and be engaged in organizational networks. While progress is being made, the picture is not totally rosy. It is not uncommon for members to find it difficult to stay engaged, to fully participate in an on-going manner.  Why is this occurring? There are many potential causes to investigate but the one I want to reflect upon is the notion that competing interests and responsibilities create the need to prioritize. Such a dynamic...

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New Existentialists

Bare: Psychotherapy Stripped: Shedding Light on the Shadow Sides of Therapy

10/22/2014
Bare: Psychotherapy Stripped: Shedding Light on the Shadow Sides of Therapy
In the modern age, it is hard to move paper without ample doses of sex and violence. This is a world in which 50 Shades of Grey is a best-selling series—bad writing by most accounts but sufficiently titillating without being too frightening. In A Dance of Dragons, George R. R. Martin has one of his characters say it might not be possible for her to make her people good, but she might at least be able to make them better. I think George is chiding us, his gentle readers. This is the fifth book in a very long series notable mostly for gratuitous sex, sexualization of and violence towards...

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