It matters that people have a way to use the latest findings in psychology beyond buying a pill for depression. It matters that people have a way of looking at their lives that lets them ask the big questions and determine how they want to live – and that this is supported by therapists and mental health professionals.

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Posts tagged with the category Key Concepts

Photo by Ildar Sagdejev.
What does it mean to be free? Better people than me have taken on this question, and yet consensus is hard to come by. Freedom is far too big a word to take on in a short forum like this. Rollo May barely had space in Freedom and Destiny to make cogent his ideas on the subject, which were derived from and expanded into many other works. In the...
March on Washington, 1963.
In the 1993 action film Demolition Man, there is a scene in which the character Lenina Huxley asks the film’s hero, John Spartan, if he would like to have sex. Spartan, who has been in cold storage for decades, responds enthusiastically, but much to his surprise, discovers Lenina means virtual sex. After a few minutes of this virtual...
Dammit women! Get down! Those dirty Naps are coming! A forceful yank and then a gentle shove to the cold concrete ground startled me. The lights in the hospital room dimmed and the shades drawn. The metal-framed door slammed quickly shutting off human contact and other intruders. Shock, fear, and adrenaline racked my body. Three psych techs...
Steal a Pencil for Me (The Movie), 2007
Last spring, I heard a reading of the opera Steal a Pencil for Me at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. The opera, composed by Dr. Gerald Cohen, with a libretto by Deborah Brevoort, is based on the book and memoirs, Steal a Pencil for Me, by Jack (Jaap) Polak and Ina Soep Polak. I had originally met Jack and Ina in 2004 at another...
Through the work of existential-humanistic and transpersonal psychologists Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and Rollo May in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, the psychotherapeutic hour became a living laboratory in which the individual’s discovery of the growth-oriented, self-actualizing dimension of his or her personality was educed. Rogers, Maslow,...
Photo by Associated Press, 1946.
I see messages like this everywhere. Some very wise people have said it in one way or another. Leo Tolstoy, for example, said, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no-one thinks of changing himself." Marianne Williamson said, “Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love. We melt into another world, a realm of...
My skin is a differential field day for mental health practitioners, even those who are colleagues. My history and its rocky journey are mapped erratically on my body in white keloid streams raised from the way my tears burned through my own flesh. I have a memory for each one. I embark on an emotional journey every time my fingers accidentally...
[Editor's Note: Listen to Louis Hoffman speak about the DSM-5 controversy on City Visions radio on KALW.] The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is receiving a dramatic increase of attention since the new version (i.e., the DSM-5) became available. This discussion is important given the DSM-5 is not just another book;...
One of the interesting aspects of being an existential therapist is learning the perceptions that others have about what it means to be existential. After having taught about existential psychology at seven universities, I have heard quite a few different perspectives. However, the diversity within existential psychology is maybe as diverse as the...
I laughed my way through basic training. It was a hoot. Watching small people try to intimidate us with their small presences, with canned insults and one-liners, and stories so old they could only be apocryphal…a time of hilarity despite all the stress. Particularly amusing was a talk one training instructor gave about “acme,”...
Last week, I bought a hat. For the record, I do not normally buy hats, nor do I normally shop in the kind of fancy one-of-a-kind SoHo boutiques in New York City where I bought this one. But my friend Carmen was visiting from Spain—her first trip to the United States—and saw the interesting collection of fabrics in the window and...
Photo by Alexander Buschorn.
As the National Institute of Mental Health jettisons the DSM-5, I find myself pondering the “science” of psychology and its relationship to existentially oriented clinical practice. One must concede psychology’s woefully dubious track record: from phrenology and Mesmerism to prejudiced intelligence testing and pathologization of...