Day 8: Existentialism
October 25, 2009 by kltangen
Like humanistic psychology, existential psychology was more of a movement or philosophy than a systematic school of thought. Basically a reaction to behaviorism, existential philosophers differentiated between existence (being) and essence (how things are). Existence is primary, and essence is fleeting.
Existentialism stands in contrast to the determinism of trait theory, psychoanalysis, and the reductionism of behaviorism. Now is what matters, not the past. You are responsible, not others. You have one life, so don’t waste it.
Viktor Frankl and Rollo May provide a good introduction to existentialism. Both emphasize the need for you to fill your life with meaningful, caring actions. They put the responsibility for your life on you. Your past doesn’t matter. Your poor childhood, physical limitations and current circumstances cannot relieve you of the responsibility for running your life.