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Skribent: Hanskrist
Emne: Re: Umwelt Mitwelt og Eigenwelt

Her er lige et par link såvidt Umwelt, Mitwelt og Eigenwelt. Jesper Hoffmeyer er som sagt meget optaget deraf. Rollo May også, se artiklen nedenfor.

Ludwig Biswanger
Ludwig Biswanger, an existential psychologist, suggested in 1958 that in order to understand how existence feels, which is at the heart of the phenomenological approach, we need to understand our experiences at three different levels. That is, that the conscious experience of being alive has three components: biological (Umwelt), social (Mitwelt) and inner or psychological experience (Eigenwelt).

Umwelt: In order to understand how existence feels we need to be aware of our physical sensation such as pain, pleasure, hunger, warmth, cold etc.

Mitwelt: In order to understand how existence feels we need to be aware of our social relations. What we think and feel as a social creature who exists in a world with other people. Your thoughts and feelings about others and the thoughts and feelings you receive from them is your experience of Mitwelt.

Eigenwelt: This could be simply classified as �introspection�. In order to understand how existence feels we need to be aware of the inner workings of ourselves. This is all about our attempt to understand ourselves: the experience of experience itself.

The Existential Theories of Rollo May

Existentialism is concerning with the meaning of human life. Rollo May introduced European existential thought into American psychology. Humanism and Existentialism are similar, but one difference is noted: Humanists see people as basically good; existentialists see human nature as neutral. Whether the person becomes good or evil is a matter of personal choice. One can decide to be good or evil.

May’s “nervous breakdown” in Europe he defined this way: “the rules, principles, values by which I used to work and live simply did not suffice anymore.” Others would call this an existential crisis: what is the meaning of my life? May decided to “listen to my inner voice”. He returned from Europe and enrolled in Union Theological Seminary to study the basic questions related to the human experience. There he met the eminent Paul Tillich, Protestant theologian and existential philosopher.

In his second book, The Springs of Creative Living: A Study of Human Nature and God (1940), he defined healthy religion: “Call it confidence with the universe, trust in God, belief in one’s fellow-men, or what not, the essence of religion is the belief that something matters—the presupposition that life has meaning.” The healthy religious person has found meaning in life, and the atheist is one who has not.

His doctoral dissertation, published as The Meaning of Anxiety, was heavily influenced by the Danish theological Soren Kierkegaard: anxiety results from any threat to one’s existence.

May was a distinguished professor, and a prolific scholar. In his books, he discussed the philosophical themes of meaningful existence, love, will, freedom, destiny, courage, creativity, beauty, and innocence.

Tenets of Existentialism

The following terms and concepts make up May’s theory of personality:

Dasein (literally, to be there): all-hereness; an individual’s experiences and interpretations of the world right here, right now; the person is a “being-in-the-world”; caught up in the world, taking a stand on one’s life, active and engaged at all times. This dynamic process of choosing, valuing, accepting, rejecting, means that humans are constantly becoming something different.

Modes of Existence: umwelt, mitwelt, eigenwelt: a familiar concept among existentialists. Our existence consists of these three categories: the physical aspects of both the internal and external environments, the personal relationships of the individual, and the individual’s consciousness. Each of us lives in all three worlds simultaneously.

Alienation: one’s estrangement from some aspect of his or her existence (nature, others, or self), resulting in loneliness, emptiness, and despair.

Freedom: the most important principle of existentialism: freedom to choose allows each of us to transcend the immediate circumstances of our lives; we do not have to be victimized by nature, others or self, unless, of course, this freedom is underdeveloped or denied.

Responsibility: With freedom comes the assumption of full responsibility for what we have become. Nothing or no one can be blamed for who we are. Freedom and responsibility are inseparable.

Ontology: the study of existence; what it means to be. Each of us may begin an ontological analysis of our experiences in nature, with relationships, and with ourselves. Two ontological questions: What does it mean to be a human being? What does it mean to be me?

Phenomenology: the study of what is given in human consciousness: the person’s consciousness and levels of awareness are studied in order to find meaning in that person.

Authenticity: the fully-functioning person; the self-actualizing person; living in positive relationships, creating challenges for personal growth, minimizing anxiety: these are the criteria for authenticity.

Death: “To grasp what it means to exist, one needs to grasp the fact that he might not exist.” The inevitability of death should be a major incentive to live the full and meaningful life. Your years on earth are not a dress rehearsal. This is all you get. What are you going to do with the time that you have here? Death can be literal, but one can also die symbolically by not leading the authentic life.

Thrownness: the givens in life; our own personal limitations that characterize a person’s existence over which he or she has no control: one is born, one dies; nature destroys through earthquakes and volcanoes; genetic factors; thrownness determines the conditions under which we exercise our personal freedom. Thrownness cannot be changed, but we can interpret, value and act on these facts any way we want. May refers to these facts as our destiny, or “the pattern of limits and talents that constitute the ‘givens’ in life.”

The following terms and concepts relate to May’s specific applications of existential philosophy to psychology:

Human Dilemma: the fact that humans can view themselves as both the subject and the object at the same time. Humans can see themselves as an object to which things happen; we are continually influenced by stimuli presented to us (Skinner’s theory); whether we respond or not to the stimuli depends on our rationality (Rogers’ theory); our ability to self-relate is what distinguishes us from the rest of nature; “man’s ability to stand outside himself”; we can view ourselves viewing, a metacognitive skill.

Intentionality: the means by which the dichotomy between subject and object is partially overcome; all emotional and mental experiences must relate to (intend) objects or events outside the person; the human capacity to perceive selectively and to assign meaning to objects and events in the world; the relationship between the thinking person and the outside world. Both the individual’s will (movement in a certain direction to fulfill specific goals) and wish (the imaginative playing with the possibility of future courses of action) are related to his/her intentionality. Intentionality, will, and wish are three of the most important concepts in May’s theory. Through these three cognitive constructs the person experiences his identity, exercises his freedom and senses his being.

Normal and Neurotic Anxiety: anxiety and freedom always go together. Anxiety is defined as the resulting response to anything that threatens our freedom. May’s definition of normal anxiety: “the apprehension cued off by a threat to some value which the individual holds essential to his existence as a self.” Anxiety is necessary for growth and expansion of self; moving forward into the unknown is anxiety producing, an unfortunate companion of freedom of choice. Healthy anxiety should be recognized and accepted as inevitable. Neurotic anxiety is the feeling that comes when one decides to conform, accept conditions of worth of others, and give up possible personal growth, all in the name of safety and security. Neurotic anxiety, leading to psychological stagnation and intense feelings of guilt, is the subject of therapy.

Normal and Neurotic Guilt: normal guilt comes when one doesn’t live up to his/her potential as a human being; it is part of the human condition, like anxiety; normal guilt can be used constructively when it is recognized and consciously reduced by appropriate action; neurotic guilt is the result of giving up and taking no risks for growth and expansion of self.

Values: what we deem important and meaningful. In infancy: love, care, nourishment; in childhood and adolescence: approval, success, status among peers and autonomy from parents; in adulthood: those which transcend the immediate situation in time and encompass past and future, extending outward toward the good of the community and the larger world; holding mature values is more important than satisfying those values, i.e. search for beauty and truth is more important that actually finding it. Without functional values, we are alienated from the world and lose our sense of identity, worth, and significance; there is a sense of helplessness and aimlessness; “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”: values and commitment go hand in hand; mature values allow a person to deal effectively with reality, to empathize with others, and to form meaningful interpersonal relationships, and to be future-oriented; without an adequate system of values, people depend on things outside themselves to indicate worth and significance—status, income, possessions, prestige.

Love: the authentic love relationship must have these four types of love:

Sex: biological drive, satisfied by intercourse; goal is termination, gratification, relaxation

Eros: the desire for union with another person; goal is to continue the experience, and to seek wholeness or interrelatedness among our experiences with others

Philia: friendship or brotherly love; acceptance of the other person and enjoyment of him/her; an expansion of eros; a relaxation in the presence of the other

Agape: unselfish giving of one’s self to another, without concern for reciprocity; unconditional positive regard

Daimonic: from Greek, meaning both divine and diabolic; any natural function that has the power to take over the whole person—sex, eros, anger, rage, craving for power or achievement; may be either creative and healthy or destructive, or usually both. The desire to achieve is a kind of affirmation of self, but if it becomes an obsession, it takes over the whole person without regard for the person’s well-being or the well-being of others; all of life is a constant search for the optimal level of each of our personality traits.

Psychotherapy: the goal is to convert neurotic anxiety and guilt to normal anxiety and guilt; to help the client actualize his/her potentialities. What is the client trying to express by the presenting problems?; to help the client find meaning in circumstances s/he would otherwise find meaningless or hopeless. Therapy should be an encounter between two selves coming together and sharing their existence; empathy for the client is a key ingredient.

Importance of Myth: May agreed with Jung that myths give expression to the universal truths of human nature, and guide human existence; these are narratives that make sense in a senseless world; myths provide universal themes to the individual regarding birth, death, love, marriage, good (Christ), evil (Satan), freedom, independence; memory and myth are inseparable; our earliest memories become our personal myths, that influence our perceptions about the world, others and self. Great literature gives expression to all-important aspects of human nature. Myths serve four purposes in our lives, according to May:

They give us a sense of personal identity

They give us a sense of community

They support our moral values

They allow us to deal with the mysteries of creation

Some myths are exclusive to some cultures, and therefore may cause possible friction between people from those cultures. Zenophobia is explained by the fact that an outsider may not share one’s myths and is therefore to be feared.

Some myths are undesirable because they don’t encourage kinship. An example is the American’s myth of rugged individuality whose goal is to live isolated from others and needing no one. May believes that this myth has resulted in narcissism, loneliness, and violence.

Optional Assignment:

1. On pages 137-138, review the eight “dawning awarenesses” that are listed and choose one that could apply to your life, either now or in the past.

Dawning Awarenesses

¨ Security of the known serves as a barrier to individual growth

¨ Identity is borrowed and personal affirmation comes from being somebody’s something

¨ Bound by past decisions; unwilling to make new ones

¨ Changing perceptions of the past can change the present

¨ The importance of the past is to learn from it and use it to reshape the future

¨ Appreciation of every day living is thwarted by worry about negative events in the future

¨ Being “good enough” is the goal; learn to accept your own limitations and the limitations of others

¨ Living in the present is hindered by preoccupation with past or future.

2. Summarize your thoughts about all this freedom that existentialists believe that you have. How are you avoiding freedom and the risks that come with it?

Sartre: to exist is never to be finished with choosing; we are our choices.

Assuming responsibility is a basic condition for change; clients who don’t take personal responsibility by persistently blaming others will not profit from therapy: “This is way I am; I’ve always been this way. I can’t change.” Or “I am the way I am because I had alcoholic parents. What do you expect? I am the classic ACOA (adult child of an alcoholic).”

Goals of therapy: (1) to help clients recognize how they have given away their power to another, and (2) to encourage them to take steps toward autonomy.

3. Describe someone that you know who seems to be “trapped in a doing mode to avoid the experience of being.”

Existential themes in therapy often involve finding the authentic self, a personal identity. Loneliness, alienation are uprootedness are often issues for the client who has not found an intimacy in young adulthood.

A great fear of clients: that they may discover that they are nobody, that there is no depth, there is no genuine connection to others and that there is no significant meaning to them.

The importance of aloneness: to be alone and enjoy yourself is essential to building a solid relationship with another; to recognize aloneness as a human condition is important

Relationships can be based on personal deprivation or personal fulfillment, the difference between needing someone (clinging, dependent, parasitic) and wanting someone ( healthy, mature, life-affirming)

4. Define the concepts of existential vacuum and existential guilt, and choose one to write about from personal experience.

Existential questions bring clients into therapy: Who am I? Why am I here? What do I want from life? What gives my life purpose? Where is the source of meaning in my life? Is there any point to what I do now, since I will eventually die? Will I be forgotten when I’m gone? If it is all meaningless, why should I bother?

The existential vacuum: Frankl’s term for the emptiness and hollowness that is inherent in life’s meaninglessness; clients often come in without a clear sense of purpose and feel worthless.

Existential guilt: a guilt derived from a sense of being incomplete or not living up to what we could become; may serve as a motivation for growth.

Logotherapy: a term used by Frankl to describe therapy designed to help clients find meaning in life. To find meaning is life comes as a by-product of social engagement, a commitment to loving, working and striving towards self-actualization.

5. Distinguish between normal anxiety and existential anxiety. How are you doing at “learning how to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty.”?

Anxiety is an inevitable aspect of being human, unavoidable when confronted with the “givens of existence”: death, freedom, existential isolation and meaninglessness

Normal anxiety serves as a motivator for change; neurotic anxiety is out of proportion to the situation.

Individuals often attempt to avoid any kind of anxiety by creating the illusion of security, reducing our choices and constricting our lives, being closed to new experiences and avoiding the leap into the unknown

Therapists can help hesitant clients to face life squarely, by taking a stance, performing an action, making a decision, and learning how to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty, learning to get comfortable in the “gray area”.

6. What are your thoughts and feelings about your own dying? How would you take the existential proposition to form a more positive view of death?

Awareness of your own mortality, the inevitability of your death, and the brevity of your living give significance to your life.

One must think about death if we are to live our lives to the fullest and realize that each present moment is crucial.

Yalom recommends that therapists talk directly to the client about the reality of death. What do you think about that?

7. Summarize the beliefs that an existential therapist would bring into the therapeutic relationship.

Clients must be able to

¨ Accept the awesome freedom and responsibility to act

¨ Recognize the ways that they are not living authentic lives

¨ Make choices that move them closer to their capabilities

¨ Move beyond the narrow and compulsive trends that block their freedom

¨ Recognize and learn to manage the anxiety that comes with being alive and connected

¨ Remove themselves from the role of victim and the perception of their own powerlessness

¨ Bring out and activate the latent aliveness inherent in all of us

¨ Be fully aware of their restricted existence and the possibilities that lie before them

¨ Engage in self-confrontation, introspection and meta-cognitive analysis of self

¨ Join the therapist in a journey into self-discovery
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