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  • Writer's pictureMona Ray

Fear and Sadness; Why do You Suffer? The Existential Therapy.

#depression #anxiety #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawarness #love #sad #mentalillness #sadness #alone

The sad truth is that all of us experience fear and Sadness. Fear is a reaction to hazards and situations that make you feel threatened. Sadness is also a natural human emotion that can express grief and bereavement. Thus, fear and Sadness are normal human reactions often experienced concurrently. However, when those feelings become overwhelming and impact your functioning and quality of life, you may require clinical attention. When you cannot cope well, this may become a problem. Throughout history, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other social scientists have tried to find reasons, explanations, and solutions to why people cannot cope with difficult situations. Thus, maybe we should search for the answer somewhere else by asking questions ‘Who am I first?’, ‘Why do I suffer?’, ‘What can I do to stop it?’ There are many forms of helping; finding and choosing the suitable method to treat depression and anxiety effectively is an essential factor. I will discuss existential and cognitive behavioural therapies, a more profound philosophical explanation, and a solution.

Nietzsche & Existentialism

Existentialism has its roots in existential philosophy related to the work of some philosophers since the 19th century. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche have been considered foreshadowers of existentialism. However, Ludwig Binswanger (1881-1966) and Medard Boss (1889-1976) were precursors who expanded existential therapy in the 1930s and invented a new approach to psychotherapy (Langdridge, 2010). Most recently, Ernesto Spinelli and Emy Van Deurzen have continued numerous existential therapy expansions. Existential therapists have focused on the state of people’s existence and individual’ personal feelings. Individual behaviours and responsibilities reflect on the existential philosophy that creates a practice that facilitates clients to realize how to cope in the face of unavoidable difficulty and insecurity in life.

The Phenomenological Method

Additionally, it contains the phenomenological method, drawing on the work of Husserl (1859-1938) (cited in Barker et al., 2010), who focuses on the situation—the client’s perspective. The therapists fit into a practice called “epche”; this involves bracketing, description, horizontalization and verification.

Bracketing is like acting. The therapist should set him or herself aside from the usual way of experiencing people and see the perspectives that clients use to understand the world as it appears to clients. Existentialist should hold their views at the same time. However, more than bracketing and a situation description is required. The point is to describe the problem rather than to explain why the problem is there. Thus the next step is to horizontalize by not putting parts of clint’s feelings in hierarchies of significance.

Finally, the therapist’s verification of their understanding of the client’s thought process is essential to the therapy. Additionally, phenomenology is implanted from Nietzsche’s ideas of ‘amor fati’, which means to love your fate as it is (Langdridge, 2011, p.130). This means the therapist helps clients find a way to accept their life. They focus on the present, not the past. Good existential therapists put the philosophy into practice; they live their lives as they teach; thus, they should follow the principles. Existentialists claim that people are not fixed but unique and creative and can change their existence.

Moreover, individuals can choose who they are and should focus on the present and future while remembering that the present is affected by the past. Also, we should not forget that we are social beings and that we are our bodies and have our physical, social, psychological, and spiritual dimensions. That life has a beginning and an end. These ideas are not techniques, and good existential therapists should plunge into those ideas using the phenomenological stance to help those who suffer. Although the approach has good points, I‘d like to point out that we are not our bodies. Identifying ourselves with our bodies is a fundamental mistake and the reason for our suffering. If you think scientifically, you know that every eight years, all cells in your body change. Thus, every eight years, we have a new body. Look at your photo when you were a baby, a child, a teenager, a young adult, middle age and old. These are different bodies, but there is one unchangeable factor: you, life in the body. Have you ever thought about the difference between living matter and dead matter? What is the difference between a living and a dead body? Try to kick a table and kick a living body; the table will not react, will not kick you back, but a living body will react and may kick you back. If you think that you are your body, then you believe you will be satisfied by satisfying your senses. However, although you may experience sensual pleasure, you may still be unsatisfied and unhappy. You may eat to death and still feel empty inside. As a result, you may feel low and sad and experience an existential crisis called depression.

Pros and cons of Existentialism; Who Are You?

Although existentialists address many good points here, they are mistaken, so the therapy may not be fully effective. It is similar to healing a physical condition, you can treat the symptoms with painkillers, but this will not resolve the problem; you need to treat the cause of an illness. For example, suppose you have a bacterial infection. In that case, you take an antibiotic that kills the bacteria. If your cartilage is damaged, you need surgery to restore the cartilage or even a joint replacement to function relatively normally. To deal with a problem, you must address the source of the problem. In the same way, as your material body needs food, drink etc., you, the unmaterial life inside the body, needs unmaterial food.

Otherwise, you will always be hungry, no matter how much food, drink, and other sensual pleasure you will give your body; even when your body is overwhelmed by all the material comforts, you are still hungry, unsatisfied, empty, and sad. Elvis Presley, who had all possible material comforts, said at some point in his life, ‘I had everything, but I feel that I have missed something important in my life’. Why do rich and famous people become drug addicts, alcoholics etc.? They feed their bodies, but they feel empty and depressed. Existentialist therapists reject the idea that fear and Sadness are illnesses, and I agree. It is a symptom of a hungry soul inside the body. Feed your unmaterial self and body; you will feel satisfied and happy on all levels. How to feed your body, you know that for sure, but do you know how to provide your unmaterial self? There are different ways, but I will leave this to you at this point. Try to think and find out about who you really are and where the unmaterial food you desperately need is.

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