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New Existentialists

Reflections on What Meaning Means

06/21/2012
Reflections on What Meaning Means
One major aspect that makes Existential Psychology stand out from other models of psychology is that we use a different Psychological Currency. What we value is Meaning as the great contributor toward an individual’s psychological health. Without meaning in one’s life, there is little to help the individual live with vitality. Other psychologies emphasize instincts, thought patterns, stimulus and response patterns, but meaning is our ingredient. Recently, I have begun to ask myself what meaning is. Like most good questions, I have found that this is not an easy question to answer. But I will...

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Rethinking Complexity

Why Do You Ask?

06/21/2012
Why Do You Ask?
So much of how we make sense of the world starts with the questions we choose to ask. At the same time, the questions we choose to ask are shaped by the way we make sense of the world. Which came first, the question or the answer? A great example of how one can trace the source of our questions to our frames of reference can be found in Edwin A. Abbot’s 1884 novella, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. Abbot invented a two-dimensional world populated by various polygons as a satirical commentary on the social hierarchies of Victorian culture. In world of Flatland, the more sides you...

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New Existentialists

Narrative, Personal Identity, and Method

06/20/2012
Narrative, Personal Identity, and Method
In addition to teaching Husserlian phenomenology, I work with a number of students whose primary interest is narrative, and in response I’ve recently turned to works by writers including Paul Ricoeur—in particular, Oneself as Another (1995)—and Donald Spence’s (1982) Narrative Truth and Historical Truth: Meaning and Interpretation in Psychoanalysis. What follows are some initial reflections prompted by these writers’ complex meditations upon the meaning of “narrative,” in response to the needs of my students. Why should we reflect on narrative? Aren’t we interested in “narratives,” plural? In...

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Rethinking Complexity

Creating Space: A Critical Aspect of Sustainability

06/20/2012
Creating Space: A Critical Aspect of Sustainability
I was recently asked what I was currently working on to support sustainable life on the planet. Over the years, I have been doing my part by recycling, reducing my consumption, reducing carbon usage, and bringing sustainability conversations into my university and other groups in which I participate; however, when I reflected on this question, what I realized I am doing now is creating space in my life and work as a way to sustain my own energy and relationships. My purpose is to both become more creative and effective in all that I do, but to provide others with an experience of space....

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Rethinking Complexity

Leadership Development and Transformational Change

06/19/2012
Leadership Development and Transformational Change
Even though the study of transformational change in organizations has become a popular research topic in the fields of management and leadership studies, it appears that only one in three change initiatives has been deemed successful, according to studies and publications by McKinsey & Company. Social scientists, psychologists and organizational developers have amassed thousands of volumes about change management and the role of leadership in change initiatives; however, these resources have not altered the success ratio in transformational change since statistics started to appear in the...

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New Existentialists

The Artist Within

06/19/2012
The Artist Within
A number of us humanists and New Existentialists travelled to China recently for the Second International Conference on Existential Psychology. It was an awe inspiring and moving time for many of us. A team of us then traveled to various locations throughout China to deliver workshops with the goal of introducing existential psychology to China. My post today is my attempt to refine my answer to a question that was posed to our team. The question posed, and my response to this question, has haunted me ever since. This post is my response to the lingering voices within and my way of giving...

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New Existentialists

Rethinking Treatment Strategies for Suicidal Soldiers

06/18/2012
Rethinking Treatment Strategies for Suicidal Soldiers
Many veterans and soldiers of combat (around the world) become lost into traumatic experience, never fully returning to what may have been former selves, ways of being, and ultimately, a lost sense of meaning and relatedness. Finding no sense of meaning after having to see comrades die, killing another human being, or even being continually “on guard” in perpetual fear of a threat that cannot always be seen (and often projected upon an image of a certain faces of a culture that is then equated to “enemy”), many soldiers and veterans see their once understood foundation of selfness to break—a...

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Mind-Body Medicine

A Tribute to a Dissertation Chair: Honoring Constance T. Fischer

06/17/2012

 

The relationship between graduate students and University faculty is often a complex and rich one. The dissertation chair plays an especially pivotal role in the final stages of the PhD student’s career and in the launching of his or her career.  On June 3, I had the opportunity to attend the retirement party for Constance T. Fischer, my own dissertation chair at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. I will share some observations about Connie Fischer’s  contributions to our understanding of human behavior and just touch on her contributions to my career.

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New Existentialists

Remembering Paul Fussell 1924 – 2012

06/15/2012
Remembering Paul Fussell 1924 – 2012
Paul Fussell, professor, literary scholar, expert on the First and Second World Wars, social historian, and a critic of popular culture, died on May 23rd at age 88. Words frequently used to describe Paul are curmudgeon and stingingly opinionated—I would agree with these words. Paul was not a person who “suffered fools gladly”—or at least those people he considered to be fools. I experienced Paul as a brilliant thinker who was not afraid to make pronouncements—no matter how controversial or politically incorrect they might be. I was acquainted with Paul Fussell through his wife, Harriette...

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New Existentialists

Garage Sale Existentialism

06/14/2012
Garage Sale Existentialism
With the exception of baseball, there is perhaps nothing more Americana then the Garage Sale. Only along the tree-lined streets of suburban America will you find garage doors open early on a Saturday morning unveiling a trove of stuff (Thank you, George Carlin!) deemed both worthless and valuable at the same moment. As the urban treasure hunters stop to peruse the wares, a very poor rendition of bedouin negotiating takes place between two suburbanite stalkers, one striving to sell his or her “valuable” wares and the other seeking to gain a prize at the lowest price possible. In this...

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