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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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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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