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New Existentialists

Viewing Addiction through an Existential Lens

10/02/2014
Viewing Addiction through an Existential Lens
Increasingly, we are reminded that addiction is a serious problem that threatens the physical, mental, and emotional lives of all those involved—the person addicted, friends, family and loved ones of those addicted, and society at large. We watch news of famous and talented people, such as Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams. Both acknowledged their life-long battles with addiction and ended up “losing.” We ponder the causes of addiction, wonder what could have been done, and grieve the loss—of the individual and the potential of what that life might have been....

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New Existentialists

Finding Oneself and Creating Oneself: Implications of the Psychotherapy Folklore

10/01/2014
Finding Oneself and Creating Oneself: Implications of the Psychotherapy Folklore
“Perhaps, as we say in America, I wanted to find myself. This is an interesting phrase, not current as far as I know in the language of any other people, which certainly does not mean what it says but betrays a nagging suspicion that something has been misplaced.” --James Baldwin (Giovanni’s Room, 1956/1984) “I am going to therapy [or on a spiritual quest] to find myself.” Phrases of this sort are common in the folklore and history of psychotherapy, particularly humanistic, existential, and other depth psychotherapies. I have even heard many therapists say this...

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New Existentialists

On 41

09/30/2014
On 41
I'll be 41 here in a minute, and around these times we mark out as indications of aging, I like to spend a few minutes reflecting. What does it all mean? This year, I've decided to think about the upsides of aging. Sure, there are downsides, but we can't have everything. The occasional focus on what is good won't kill us. Sex comes quickly to mind, because it doesn't, at least not as quickly as it once did. At 41, I find myself far less distracted than in years past by sexual thoughts and pretty people. Some men chew Viagra or rub their underarms with testosterone when...

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Rethinking Complexity

The Dilemma of Our Time

09/30/2014
The Dilemma of Our Time
Evolution is a constant in the human experience, although we interpret it in different manners. To some, particularly scientists, evolution is an accidental progression that yielded the cosmos, our planet and life. To others, it is a process created by a supreme being as part of a master plan. Regardless of our beliefs, life in the universe evolves with new stars being born, galaxies forming, and life on planet Earth in a continuing state of flux. According to scientific studies, the evolution of the universe started with the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago and will continue for an indefinite...

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New Existentialists

We All Matter

09/29/2014
We All Matter
Alice* had first come to see me for weekly equine assisted therapy sessions as part of her intensive outpatient treatment at the eating disorders clinic I partner with. For 10 months, we had worked together battling through the demons that held her prisoner. For 10 months, she had painstakingly clawed her way back to a healthy weight, battled her desire to restrict calories and exercise excessively, and had begun to quiet the voices within her that told her she was not good enough. No longer at risk of needing residential care, she was deemed to be “in recovery.” Now, a year later...

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New Existentialists

Silence, Shunning, and Shying Away: Destroying Personhood and Connection Through Preserving the Peace

09/25/2014
Silence, Shunning, and Shying Away: Destroying Personhood and Connection Through Preserving the Peace
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” My well-intentioned parents repeated this injunction so often to my sister and me throughout our childhood, presumably to discourage us from bullying other children and to encourage us to model pro-social behavior for our peers. Words certainly do deliver deep, emotional wounds that can arguably linger far longer in memory and body awareness than the impact of physical blows. Threats, degrading insults, abusive epithets, and aggressive intimidation leave indelible marks on the sensitive psyche of a child...

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New Existentialists

The Magic Jug and the Spirit of the Wok: Part Four of a Four-Part Series

09/24/2014
The Magic Jug and the Spirit of the Wok: Part Four of a Four-Part Series
What are the essential elements of brewing a good cup of coffee? Certainly, one needs the proper equipment. Yet, we all know that acquiring all the right equipment does not a barista make. Just as purchasing an expensive camera does not qualify one as a good photographer. It is only the beginning. The right tools for the right job, as they say. So, I asked Ving about her own equipment. I wanted to find out more about her attitude towards the tools of her craft. I made some comments and posed the following question to her: given how important the pour is in brewing that cup of coffee, I...

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New Existentialists

The Tech Industry's Depression Problem

09/23/2014
The Tech Industry's Depression Problem
No one who pays attention to the tech industry should be surprised that it has what The Atlantic Monthly recently dubbed “a depression problem.” Why wouldn’t it? It’s a hyper-competitive environment in which people work tremendously long hours, fail often, and judge their self-worth by their earnings and status in an often hierarchical, often conformist, culture. That’s pretty much a recipe for unhappiness. But while it’s good to see the problem getting air time, the prescriptions being talked about are woefully inadequate representations of tech culture....

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New Existentialists

Karen Horney’s Perspective: The Emergence of Cultural Influences on the Female Psyche

09/22/2014
Karen Horney’s Perspective: The Emergence of Cultural Influences on the Female Psyche
The work of Karen Horney sheds light on the internal psychosexual conflicts and unspeakable experiences of women who remain subjugated by Middle Eastern and African cultures today. The writings of Horney give an informed understanding of much of the underlying dynamic. Horney’s psychoanalytic revisionism went through three phases. In the 1920s and early 1930s she wrote a series of essays modifying orthodox ideas about feminine psychology while staying within the framework of Freudian theory. A compilation of her papers written from 1922-1937, stressed that culture and society encouraged...

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New Existentialists

Existential Roundup

09/19/2014
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 we approach the Autumnal Equinox, the moment where the earth finds a balance of light and dark, we need to remember that while some people view the day as being filled with 12 hours of bright sunshine, others view it as filled with 12 hours of total darkness. Perspective is everything. In The Atlantic this week, we see three different examples of how context changes the psychological picture dramatically. The...

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