Author: Drake Spaeth

Madness and beauty in the heart of darkness


Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death.       –R. D. Laing I begin this writing shortly after learning of the unexpected death of John Forbes Nash, Jr. and his wife, Alicia. John Nash was a Nobel… Read more »

The threshold of mystery: Existential psychology, embodied knowing, and spirituality (part 2)


This essay is the second of two, comprising an article that began with my essay posted on May 1, 2015. The prior essay initiated a consideration of the spiritual aspects of existential psychology and psychotherapy, endeavoring to show that what is commonly understood to be transpersonal psychology expands, enhances, and enriches the Existential-Humanistic paradigm for… Read more »

The threshold of mystery: Existential psychology, embodied knowing, and spirituality (part 1)


This essay is the first of two, comprising an article that will be concluded in my next contribution to the New Existentialists. In my Existential-Humanistic Psychotherapy courses, upon encountering concepts of existential philosophy and psychology for the first time, some of my more religious students become ensnared in and troubled by their perception that existentialism… Read more »

Reflections of a psychospiritual therapist or a psychotherapeutic spiritualist


“It’s all in your head. You just don’t know how big your head really is.” –Lon Milo DuQuette I write this essay two days before the start of the Eighth Annual Conference of the Society for Humanistic Psychology (APA Division 32), held this year at the school where I teach. I have spent most of… Read more »

I will always find you: The homing of human connection


In Chicago, as is usual for this time of year, winter’s clutch is still a tight fist. Yet, the blue of the sky is creeping into the jewel tones. This very morning I caught with deep satisfaction my first glimpse of a flock of wild geese arrowing unerringly and urgently northward toward their home, the… Read more »

The paradox of servant leadership in the classroom and therapy office


I loved Mr. Rogers as a kid—that avuncular, kindly, gently humorous man who could instill in me a desire to learn and become involved in civic endeavors better than any of my childhood teachers could. Now, with Fred Rogers shining in my memory, I work as a professor and a therapist. In the classroom, I… Read more »

Opening to Heartfulness: Gratitude and the Sacred


Last year, I was teaching a section of Existential-Humanistic Psychotherapy and discussing with my students the topic of mysticism and personal experiences of the “sacred,” which I loosely define as that which is associated with authentic perception of beauty, feelings of awe, and the dawning of wordless profound wisdom that enriches our lives. Trusting that… Read more »

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… Read more »

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… Read more »

Holding Fire With Parchment: Personal Power and Greatness Through Soul Loss


Very recently, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, poet and Jungian psychoanalyst, said of the late Robin Williams, “He learned for 63 years of his life how to be ‘the fire handler.’ That is where I would praise him, for what he has managed to do for six+ decades; handle fire, while being made of parchment” (Estés, 2014)…. Read more »