Existenzanalyse 2/2010

Emotions in psychotherapeutic process: Activate or manage?

Lilo Tutsch

Key words: Copingreaktion, Emotion, Ego structure, Psychotherapeutic process of treatment, Self-reference


Emotions are important for every process of treatment. The question that poses itself to us in therapeutic practice is, however, how much and which emotions help this treat­ment or, put in another way, how much objectification does someone need in order to enter into a treatment process and not simply to relive stressful and traumatizing situations. From a diagnostic point of view, copingreactions and self-reference are helpful here. They allow different approaches for the treatment process to emerge: The regressive form in which stressful situations as it was „back then“ are once more reenac­ted and re-experienced so as to develop an assessment rather than merely just coping. This approach demands an ego structure at least on the neurotic organization level. In the case of serious stress or traumas or where the ego structure is less developed, it de­mands a greater amount of objecti­fication so that the subject can become aware of the burdens and „can“ remember „as it were from a safe location“ and can thus reach an assessment (adjustment). If in the case of the first mode the treatment process runs through „re-experiencing“, then in the second the emotions are „managed“ to the extent that the self image can remain intact.


Psychology’s view on emotions

Astrid Görtz

Key words: behaviorism, theories of emo­tion, evolutionary biology, cognitive scien­ce, neurosciences


Academic psychology has various ex­pla­natory approaches towards emotions, each leading to different classifications, such as the talk of basic emotions. This ar­ticle pro­vides an overview of the most im­portant theories of emotion, such as models based on evolutionary biology, behavioral theory and neuropsychology, as well as their central issues. The contribution is rounded off by an epistemological contem­plation regarding to the psychotherapeutic implementation of the theoretical knowledge with reference to existential analytical anthropology.ont


On the culturality of emotions

Birgitt Röttger-Rössler

Key words: research of emotions, anthro­pology, love, shame, mourning


This article offers insight into the diversity of cultural codifications of emotions. Through an examination of the emotional dimensions of „mourning“, „romantic love“ (infatuation) and „shame“ it shall be de­mons­trated how these concepts are formed, valued and made meaningful in different cultures. It is argued that cultures shape human emotionality not only super­ficially on the level of social con­ven­tions of expression, but also more deeply on the level of subjective perception: Cul­tural models of emotion indicate the parame­ters by which human beings perceive, classify, interpret and explain their feelings as distinct emotions to themselves and to others. They define what is to be regarded as emotional competence and incompe­tence.


Is freedom an illusion?

How much scope is left in a world determined by natural law?

Michael Pauen

Key words:  emotion, decision, freedom, will


All though it is rarely contested, that emo­tions have certain influence on human action and decision-making, it is only since a few years, that the extent of this influence and the precise mechanisms through which it operates become evident. A range of new examination methods, especially the so-called imaging techniques, are also respon­sible for this. While it was initially assumed, that emotions rather pose an obstacle to true rational decision-making, there is evidence in the mean time that rational decisions and reflections are promoted by emotions. One of the reasons for the long-lasting under­estimation of emotions probably lays in the fact that they often stay under the threshold of consciousness


It followed me all day

Understanding feelings in dreams during day

Susanne Jaeger-Gerlach

Key words: consciousness (day/night), existen­tial dream work, emotional tracks, phenomeno­logy


In existential dream work we inquire into the phenomenological meaning of the dream contents as well as the biographical back­ground of the dreamer. The feelings of the dreamers – those accompanying the dream itself, those while waking up, as well as the feelings while writing it down or while recounting it – serve as one of the possible keys to understanding dream imagery.

In this lecture an illustration based on a practical example will show the existential meaning it can have for the dreamer, when those emotional tracks are followed, given attention to and appreciated.



Are we nothing but brain?

The self and its brain

Georg Northoff

Key words: self, depression, neuroscience


The issue concerning the self has occupied philosophers and psychologists since al­most 2000 years. Since recently also empiri­cal basics of the self are being subjec­ted to research in neurosciences. But the precise relation between these different concepts of the self is unclear, and their underlying neuronal mechanisms still uncertain. In the pre­sent contribution, (a) a procedural defini­tion of the self in form of self-related pro­cessing is suggested, (b) the self is defined through the phenomenal experien­cing of the relation between environment and organism, and (c) a meta-analysis of previous studies on the self in functional imaging is described.

The present contribution concludes that self-related processing is linked to neuronal activity in the medial regions of our brain, the so-called cortical midline-structures. This not only has profound implications for the concept of self and for a future neuro­science of self-related processing, but also for psy­chiatric illness, such as depression and schi­zophrenia, where disorders of the self and the organism-environment-relation are experien­ced by the patient.


The significance of psychodynamics in existential analytical psychotherapy

Christoph Kolbe

Key words: mechanisms of resistance, emo­tion, existential analysis, methodology,   per­son, psyche, psychodynamics


The importance of psychodynamics in its purpose regarding the constitution of existence will be pointed out: What is the significance of psychodynamics in the light of personal-existential striving and attitude? The statements are to be understood from the perspective of the development of Frankl‘s approach as seen by the GLE. An­thropological and psychotherapeutic-con­sult­ing aspects are reflected in particular.


Emotions in the therapy of personality disorders

Doris Fischer-Danzinger

Key words: acting out, emotions, projective identification, personality disorder, frame­work –conditions


Therapies with patients suffering from per­sonality disorders impose specific require­ments upon the therapist. The particular challenges are the intensity of emotions, acting out as an expression of absence of own opinion and the phenomenon of „Pro­jective Identification“. The resulting difficul­ties can lead to the therapist being pulled into the dynamics of the patient, while losing the distance necessary to reflect on what is happening during the treatment. Clear agree­ments in the beginning of these thera­pies can establish a framework providing a firm hold to return to in phases of the often emo­tionally charged up process.


The Phenomenon of Greed (Unwillingness to Share) in Five to Seven-Year-Old Children

Krivtsova S.V.

Key words: greed, personal development (children), self-worth


Parents and elementary school teachers have noticed that children reaching the age of five to six show a new attitude towards their peers. Compliance and indifference of four-year-old children change into aggression, touchiness, envy and greed. Most children outlive this acute conflict period without any consequences and by the age of seven their negative feelings give way to rather sociable ones: Not only do most children learn how to feel empathy but even how to share their peers’ success and joy. However, sometimes the experience of negative feelings becomes „fixed“ and continues to determine some children’s interaction with people. This may lead to the children’s unwillingness to share, in other words to the phenomenon of greed. In order to observe this behaviour, we conducted an experiment which consisted in modelling such situations in which the phenomenon of greed could be observed, though not all of the children in the sample displayed it. This report describes the phenomenon of greed from the perspective of Alfried Längle’s model of self-worth development and specifies the factors influencing its appearance.