Published on Thursday, November 17th, 2011 at 7:20 am and is filed under Psychological Science
Despite the fact that existential psychology usually refers to the humanist tradition, it has its characteristics allowing it to declare its independence. Humanistic approaches take away the quality of functioning which look positive and use them to understand the excellence of life through a permanent deepening of consciousness and development. Existential psychology also contains unique items that can be understood in a more subtle classification models actualization and achievement.
Actualization theory of existential psychology are based on the fact that if in the process of interaction with others, people receive unconditional positive reward than innate skills will be expressed in their behavior under the influence of innate tendencies toward actualization. Actualization of innate potentials leads to the development of lifelong learning, the formation of individuality and excellence and – if there is support and encouragement from others – is an automatic, teleological and a relatively easy process. In the existential psychology, human development stops or goes under the wrong way, when the support of people, who he believes, can be recognized due to their own (selfish) interests, rather than unconditional and unselfish.
On the other hand, the theories of excellence (a paradigmatic example of which is the existential psychology) make assumptions that alienate them from mainstream theories. According to the theories of excellence, a person develops throughout their lives regardless of whether he receives from others unconditional support or not. For existential psychology, development is defined personally, rather than bestowed upon him by the nature of the potentials. Although the existentialists agreed that a profound mind and personality are important in the understanding of processes, which accomplish both of them and differ from each other.
Existential psychology comes from the fact that the propensity of man to understand the symbol, to imagine and evaluate the continuous flow of social, biological and physical experience is inherent in a purely human ability. The usage of this cognitive skill gives experience, meaning and make it deeper understanding of the nature and direction of life are made up of numerous decisions made by individual. Each decision results in the future to a new experience or to repeat the same experience, which was in the past. Existential psychology doesn’t emphasize anything specific, prescriptive or teleological as innate potentials. For existentialists, whatever the sequential movement and development are, which occur to certain people, it’s based on an ongoing basis, fulfilling their individual decisions.
From the point of view of existential psychology, in the process of development is preferable to choose the future, not past, because new experiences can lead – through the stimulation of symbolization, imagination and evaluation – to a deeper understanding of the meaning than the mere repetition of what is already familiar. However, thinking about future or a real choice at the point of decision usually carries with it an ontological anxiety (fear of uncertainty) about what exactly will bring this future. An alternative choice is the choice for past, also emotionally painful because it brings ontological guilt over missed opportunities to acquire new experience. People, get accustomed to opt for the past, we have to deal with the accumulation of ontological guilt which take the form of despair, caused by the senselessness of the situation. These evidences confirm that the view of existential psychologists on development is different from the view of representatives of update theory: according to existential psychologists, development – by virtue of its nature – is a very difficult and painful process.
According to the issue of stages of development, leading to digestible ways of life, the existential psychology responds vague. However, it draws a clear boundary between the early and subsequent (later) development. The main objective of early childhood development – is to learn to think of yourself as a strong and brave man. To facilitate this task for children, parents and others should take his expression and create an environment that offers a variety of child, support and opportunities to make an effort to reach the success, also certain limitations. In such situation, child learns to accept himself as a person capable of keeping one’s word, self – control and to be ready for the challenge, which will lead to the development of courage. Further development – is more independent, because teenagers are gradually moving away from their parents, begin to rely more on their own solutions and interpretations of their effects. They go through states of esthetic and idealism when they are free from parental care and defend the values that should determine their own lives. Wises aren’t afraid of difficulties, they are able to learn from their failures and this is the ideal foundation for further development. Knowing the limits of esthetic and idealism, such people come to maturity, or the time of an authentic lifestyle.
According to existential psychology, individuals who live in authentic life show their personal and unique qualities in their definitions:
- themselves as people who are able – to influence their own social and biological experiences – through the decision – making and interpretation of their consequences.
- society, as the creature of people’s actions and modifiable by effort of these people.
Traditional style is characterized by a life of harmony and innovation. Biological and social experiences of people whose lives are authentic, marked by sophistication, taste, intimacy and love. Courage helps them to perceive the inevitable question as “satellites” of making their own opinion and they don’t allow doubt to influence the adoption of certain decisions. Although people may mistake on their own, the tendency to a quick remedy of situation is obvious for them. That’s why they have not accumulated ontological guilt for missed opportunities or for superficiality.
On the contrary, young people, whose early development took place under conditions far from ideal, never gain the courage and remain dependent all their life. Making – decisions is a hard task for them, they can’t use their own cognitive abilities to form under the authenticity of their own life experience. They can’t learn on their failures. Such people are in a hurry to disown them, rather than to understand what they did wrong. They repeat the behavior of those around them, showing conformism and immature lifestyle, instead of stepping into a genuine period of late development.
People with a conformist lifestyle define themselves exclusively as perpetrators of social roles. The expression of symbolization, imagination and assess are inhibited, which leads to a stereotyped, fragmentary functioning. Their biological and social experience is far from refined and is likely a contractual relationship than a relationship based on feelings. The accumulation of ontological guilt, that resulted from the fact that the conformist prefers the past, but not future, leads to their sense of insecurity and worthlessness. In their world views is dominated by materialism and pragmatism.