The Influence Of Existentialism

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Existentialism is a philosophical approach to understanding human existence. The nineteenth and twentieth century saw the emergence of many philosophers and thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Jaspers, Marcel, Sartre, Camus, Nietzsche and Buber all of whom greatly influenced existential therapy. During a period in Europe where civil disturbances, localised wars and where two world-wide wars took place, ideologies and the recklessness of humanity came into question. A growing interest in existentialism could be perceived throughout literature, art, philosophy and education. After the Renaissance and Scientific Revolution there was a decline in religious faith and this left many feeling lost and devoid of values and any sense of direction (Corey…show more content…
In his classic text Existential Psychotherapy (1980) he outlines a very comprehensive approach to existential therapy. He integrates the views of many of the aforementioned philosophers, theologians and therapists and focuses on four ultimate human concerns: death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness (Tan, 2011). Of death he writes, “The fear of death plays a major role in our internal experience; it haunts as does nothing else; it rumbles continuously under the surface; it is a dark, unsettling presence at the rim of consciousness” (Yalom, 1998, pg. 183). Yalom noted books can be therapy and during this time bibliotherapy took off in America. Viktor Frankl was the founder of the existential therapy called Logotherapy. It focusses on an individual’s search for meaning in life as the most fundamental of human motivations. Frankl suggests meaning can be discovered by experiencing values such as love, significant work or enduring suffering (Tan, 2011). Indeed, there is a crossover in the thinking of Yalom and Frankl. Yalom believed in making the world a better place (Altruism) and Frankl states “it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us” (Frankl E. V., 2004, pg.

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