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The feeling of unease, meaninglessness and hopelessness about life, freedom and life’s choices is referred to as an existential crisis, also called existential anxiety. One feels that the foundations on which their life was built are crumbling.
This feeling arises due to loss of safety and security, transitions and difficulty in adapting, leading one to question the meaning of existence and our place in it. Example: A student moving away from home or someone going through a difficult divorce.
The phrase ‘existential crisis’ has its roots on the philosophy of existentialism.
Existentialists view life in terms of meaning, freedom, isolation, death and ponder about the choices that are made everyday. They look towards problems and obstacles in a deeply penetrating way, trying to find meaning and purpose of their existence.
Common symptoms include anxiety, depression, isolation, loneliness and obsessive worry. Chronic sufferers of depression, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other mental disorders are more prone to an existential crisis.
Causes of an existential crisis can be the death of a loved one, serious illness, entering into a certain age-group, or having a certain traumatic experience.
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In 2016, there were 136 existential-therapy institutions in 43 countries across six continents, and existential practitioners in at least 48 countries worldwide.
Recent studies show the benefits of using existential therapy for patients with advanced cancer, incarcerated individuals, and elderly people residing in nursing homes, among others; a number of meta-analyses have gathered data on its effectiveness.
Existential therapy concentrates on free will, self-determination, and the quest for meaning. It views experiences like as anxiety, alienation and depression as normal phases in the human development and maturation.
This process involves a philosophical examination of a person's experiences, emphasizing the person's freedom and responsibility to facilitate a higher degree of meaning and well-being in their life.
Logotherapy originated in the 1930s as a counter-response to the prevalent theories of the time, and examines the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of individuals. .
Its premise is that the strongest motivational force of an individual is to find a meaning in life and it was devised by Prof Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist.
Humans normally function on primal reactions like negative self-talk, emotional outbursts and irrational actions based on outside events and circumstances. The lost ‘spiritual’ dimension of meaning is brought forward by Logotherapy.
The meaning of life generally means the relevance, significance or value of the same.
The quest for meaning is not a simple one, but a rabbit’s hole of further queries, ma...
The question of meaning can be applied both to the individual (Terrestrial) and the world (Cosmic).