Existenzanalyse 2/2011

Spirituality – personal or transpersonal development?

Michael von Brück

Spirituality is often interpreted as training for transpersonal practice. Thus the relation towards therapeutic practice focusing on ego strength and personal development turns precarious. In order to clarify associated problems, first of all terms and views on ego, person, and spiritual reality must be resolved, and secondly anthropological general terms and cultural specifics in spiritual or meditative practice differentiated. The lecture will present a few fundamental clarifications.

Key words: attentiveness, spirituality, personal, transpersonal


Beyond Interpersonal Depth: Toward an Awe-Based Paradigm in Existential Practice

Kirk J. Schneider

In this talk, I will briefly review the principles of EI (Existential-Integrative) practice but focus mainly on the rediscovery of meaning and awe as a culminating phase of the practice. Through case description and anecdote I will show how meaning and awe (or the humility and wonder-adventure-of living) can go beyond simply relationships to other people or to specific goals, but extend to relationships with being itself, the cosmic consciousness of everyday life.

Key words: awe, Existential-humanistic therapy, self-exploration, spirituality, trauma


Spirituality – Comment from an affected

Rupert Dinhobl

This lecture is a phenomenological attempt to trace what someone experiences after having had contact with spirituality. How is the human grasped in his person? Which psychological regions are affected? Which inner processes set in motion? Which changes are recognizable? I wish to pursue these questions on the basis of my personal story in the light of the Personal Existential Analysis (PEA).

Key words: Personal Existential Analysis, spirituality, spiritual experience 


Spirit and existence

On inherent spirituality of Existential Analysis

Alfried Längle

Viktor Frankl undoubtedly described a religiosity which leaves room for spirituality within his concept of “unconscious religiousness”. His concern was to make unconscious religiousness conscious applying Logotherapy and, proceeding from psychology, to open the door for faith.

Existential Analysis today, being a phenomenological school of thought, does not assume metaphysical derivations but strictly refers to the subjective experience. Spirituality is reflected therein both structurally (GM) and as a process (PEA). In the introductory section, forms of experience of mind (as the basis for spirituality) are described and subsequently spirituality is defined as deeply being touched by an ungraspable greatness. Distinctions are outlined towards religion and practical approaches are described. The main part of this paper is concerned with constituting the relationship between immanence and transcendence in the 4 fundamental motivations (GM) of existence, whereby in each case everyday experience is regarded as origin of spirituality, from which we continue on towards profundity. This is found in the reason of being, in the fundamental value, in the intimacy of personhood and in the ontological meaning of existence and becomes accessible in the act of amazement, in gratitude and in reverence for the dignity of each person as well as in faith.

On the basis of transcending oneself it becomes comprehensible that spirituality promotes mental health – and can be seen as what actually heals in the end.

Key words: Existential Analysis, Logotherapy, Spirit, Spirituality, Fundamental Motivations


Growth from the depth of the person

Spiritual experience in psychotherapeutic process

Renate Bukovski

Psychotherapy can be understood as liberation towards one’s own nature. In therapy, spiritual experiences often play a stimulating and important role for the personal development. They have a profound meaning for those going though these experiences, since they touch them in the depth of their personal existence.

This will be demonstrated with case studies from existential analytical psychotherapy, and the following questions will be pursued while do so: Aside from structural and procedural work in psychotherapeutic process, when is it appropriate to open up spiritual spaces?

How can spiritual spaces be opened up using a phenomenological-personal, imaginative access? What does this request from the therapist?

How can these depth experiences be integrated into the self-image and the world concept, in order to contribute to personal development, increase quality of life and experience meaning? Further, aims of spiritual practices are compared with those of psychotherapeutic processes, assuming that they can complement, but also be distinguished from one another.

Key words:  psychotherapy, spirituality, spiritual experiences


What can I do (psychotherapeutically), to be awake when the sun rises?

Existential Analysis as awakening towards the essential

Markus Angermayr

Proceeding from the experience of epistemological discomfort over the theme spirituality and the problems deriving from the translation of spiritual experiences into language, this article will elaborate the meaning of the spiritual dimension for the therapeutic process. What is important here for the therapeutic process, when having to do with spirituality, is that it is dealing with an experience – in contrast to thought up spiritual concepts – that is located in one’s own corporeal feeling and sensing (phenomenology towards inside). Existential Analysis refers towards “something” in us, which can be felt bodily, without already having words or terms for it yet (concept of person).  The dwelling inclusion of body, movement and impulses (primary emotion) into the personal process supports us here to come into contact with this inner knowledge (depth person & body-memory).

The case vignette illustrates how spiritual experience can touch the self- and world-relationship, and how it enables to deal with and integrate the experienced.

Key words: Existential Analysis, inner speech, spiritual experience, phenomenological openness, depth person, body felt from inside


On the path to Wholeness

Sylvester Walch

The various levels that contribute to the development of a human being will be shown in their context: The healing of the soul, the opening of the conciousness and the emancipation of the spirit. On the path to wholeness, the therapeutic, transpersonal and spiritual perspectives are open to and interwoven with one another.

Key words: wholeness, integration, self, spirituality, transpersonal


Mental health and spirituality

An overview of empirical and existential analytical results

René Hefti

A growing number of scientific publications show beneficial effects of religiosity and spirituality on mental health. People with higher levels of religious involvement have better well-being, less depression and anxiety and cope better with critical life events. In Existential Analysis spirituality is understood as an anthropological and existential disposition (indwelling human nature). Therefore we conclude that the existential scale is measuring aspects of spirituality, which could be demonstrated in a clinical investigation. The implementation of the existential dimension into therapy mobilizes spiritual resources and therefore improves mental health. The effectiveness of religious psychotherapy is shown and discussed. Overall a three-step model can be designed for the integration of religion and spirituality into psychotherapy.

Key words: Existential Analysis, Religiosity, Spirituality, Mental health, New Integrative Model


Crazy or illuminated?

Do people with unusual experiences (AgE) need a psychotherapist or are their experiences signs of spiritual development?

Martina Belz

Based on the phenomenology of unusual experiences (AgE) the contribution shows, that the elements of experience of AgE (paranormal and partially also spiritual experiences) and mental disorders, as are listed in DSM IV and ICD-10, strongly overlap and comprehensibly and at the same time unjustifiably are classified as indicators for psychological disorders in common supply systems as a rule. This has considerable implications for the supply of such persons, since those involved often are consequently irritated by their experiences, fail to integrate them into their world concept and therefore seek advice and assistance. The article will go into possibilities and problems confronted in the differentiation between AgE and psychopathology (while distinguishing between so-called paranormal and spiritual experiences). Data from meanwhile 2000 persons serve as a basis, all of whom have approached the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health in Freiburg im Breisgau.

Key words: paranormal experiences, psychoses, spirituality


Anthropological discontent with modern psychology

Or about the dependency hypothesis

Karel Balcar

Scientific psychology has an irreplaceable duty explaining the laws of human experience and its connections in environment, body and actions. It is methodologically well equippedfor discovering dependencies, however, it cannot detect independencies. This is particularly true where the mental and the physical or the existential influence one another. Psychological explanations fail when exceeding the limits of causality, since they then are solely reduction onto causality.

The paradigmatic compulsion to interpret existential phenomena shows in the tendency towards pan-determinism, pan-egoism and (partially) pan-skepticism. Fortunately, psychologists do not allow their theoretical principles to hinder them too much in practice, and thereby they even out the methodological shortcomings of the theoretical psychologism.

Key words: dependency hypothesis, determinism and freedom, egoism and self-transcendence, psychological research methods, psychotherapy


The spiritual life of grieving parents

Derrick Klaassen, Richard Young, Susan James

The death of one’s child is considered to be and experienced as one of the most traumatic losses in life and frequently associated with complicated grieving processes and mental health complications, such as post-traumaticstress disorder, depressive disorders and even an increased risk of mortality for the bereaved parents themselves. Part of the reason for these complications is the fact that the death of a child, especially if it is unex sumptions about life and reverses the natural order of death. During such times, bereaved parents often draw upon their spirituality or faith to ground their grieving and indeed their very being and to find some meaning in the inexplicable. Drawing upon a combination of empirical research and clinical observation, this paper explores the spiritualties of bereaved parents. These spiritualties are fundamentally shaped by the experience of the loss of their child. They are multidimensional, incorporating practices, beliefs and emotional experiences, and shape the ongoing relationships of bereaved parents with their deceased children. Spirituality for bereaved parents is not an escape from suffering and grief, but may offer comfort, hope, meaning and community in the midst of their pain. A relationship with the Divine may also offer bereaved parents an opportunity to express their anger and dismay over the injustice of the death of their child. This paper will explore implications for grieving research more generally and for the existential-analytical understanding of grieving.

Key words: parental grieving, qualitative study, religiosity, spirituality


Connected with the essence – touching the essence

Field report of the workshop with M. Angermayr und P. Schneider

Johanna Schallert

In this article, the workshop „Connected with the essence – touching the essence“, which had taken place within the framework of the GLE Congress 2011, is described from an inward view, drawn from the experience of a participant. In the second part, the experience report is reflected upon, and illuminated against the background of existential analytical theory. The concept to approach the topic spirituality-intimacy via body-awareness proves to be a good procedure, since it involves immediacy, not thought.

Key words: acceptance, encounter, dialogue, body-awareness, confidence, embodiment


ZEN-meditation as a life path of holistic spirituality

Gerard M. Walch

Object-free meditation of sitting in silence (ZAZEN) is the most immediate exercise of exposing oneself to momentary reality.

It considers and integrates corporeal, mental and spiritual processes: “Adjusting ones posture, ones respiration, and ones heart” (ZEN-master Yamada Bunryo Roshi). ZEN promotes the development of awareness and experience of unity (SATORI, KENSHO) with oneself, with all sentient beings, with nature, and of inner and outer reality. Although this exercise path stems from ZEN-Buddhism, it can be integrated into all religions and life philosophies in an inspiring and deepening manner as a path of holistic spiritual experience: “Silence is the great revelation” (Lao Tse).

In ZEN we exercise composure, awareness and lack of intention in order to allow these essential qualities of existence to become fruitful in our daily life.

After illustrating the historical roots of ZEN-meditation and of possible referential meanings, concrete and practical advice is given on the specific sitting position in ZAZEN, and ZEN-meditation is explained as a path of holistic spirituality.

Key words: history, meaning, practice and holistic dimension of ZEN-meditation


Existential Analytical perspective in handling religiosity and spirituality

Michael Utsch

From a psychological viewpoint, what hides behind the modern concept of “spirituality” is highly disputed.  In the first part of the essay, two different concepts will be presented. Further, distinctions will be drawn between religiosity and spirituality. It is essential for the existential analytical approach and procedure, to become aware of one’s own understanding concerning spirituality, and to inform about it when required, otherwise, misunderstandings and persuasion threat to happen.

Key words: religiosity, anthropological spirituality, religious spirituality


“When heaven and earth touch …“

Spirituality in the assistance of persons with dementia

Geertje-Froken Bolle

When heaven and earth touch – from these words emerges what in our common routine at the same time exceeds our daily life. What is spirituality – Spiritual Care – spiritual yearning – the spiritual dimension? In the practice of assisting persons with dementia, it will be described what it means in particular to feel into the depths, to encounter the undisguised inner images of the soul. In the process, the spiritual movement in human beings according to the fundamental motivations is worked out, and various approaches on the assistance of persons with dementia are described.

Key words: spirituality


Finally living in a finite life!

An attempt at the relationship between Existential Analysis and religion

Werner Eichinger

Frankl’s religious substantiation of fundamental concepts of existential analysis/logotherapy regularly aroused suspicion. Therefore, various attempts to define these concepts more clearly from religious ideas were necessary. However, in doing so the anthropological turn in parts of modern theology was not noted.

That theological thought does not just have its place “behind” or “above” existential analysis shall be shown here using the example of “eternal life”. At this point, existential analysis and theology “touch” each other – and the question of their relation arises again…

Key words: religion – theology – “eternal life” – existential analysis


Matters of the heart – on the way to spirituality of the heart

Thomas Schukai

According to Jewish-Christian tradition, the heart is the center of the human being, and refers to its sincerity. The heart is not only the location of feelings, but also of inner prayer and experience of God. Christian spirituality obtains its characteristics from this localization. However, the question arises, what it means therapeutically and spiritually, when people lose access to their hearts.

Key words: Christian spirituality, mysticism 


The message of freedom in the bible

Wiebke Dankowski

The frequent and often dazzling use of the term “spirituality”, also for profane domains since a few years, has its origins in Christian theology and refers to what is in accordance with the Holy Spirit. Biblical statements qualify this Spirit as one making alive in contrast to deadening paper law, or even identify it as freedom itself.

The Gospel in turn, shows Jesus in many situations, in which he speaks to people about the gifts of the spirit and calls on them to decide for a life in freedom and against fear.

The lecture wants to demonstrate through biblical segments, how Jesus calls to freedom ad personam et ad situationem and how he confronts individuals with their respective ties, all in all with fear in its multitude manifestations. Guiding theme will be the Jesuanic appeal to become seeing instead of staying blind, and consequently overcoming ones inner defense.

Key words: spirituality, spirit, freedom, new existence


Inspired Leaders – spirituality and management

Irene Kloimüller, Beate Riedler

Spirituality and management: Can they be combined?

What do spiritual leaders support? Can spirituality be described and hence be made visible? Can it be communicated outside of religious context?

In the workshop “Inspired Leaders” we reflected these issues with the participants and found exciting inspirations and answers.

Key words: ethics and leadership, spiritual intelligence, spirituality and management 


Locating an authentic voice amongst the dialects of inner polyphony

Elena Ukolova

When doubt arises in a decision-making situation, a polyphony of inner voices may emerge, each voice motivating the person towards a specific choice option, often even suggesting reasons in favour of this option. The paper presents two steps of a proposed method that facilitates finding an authentic position. During the first step, inner voices are verbalised, and specific nuances of their intonation are paid attention to. At the second step, the person is asked to feel and estimate how close each of these voices is to his or her own deeper Self. Examples of application of the method within counselling practice are presented.“

Key words: conscience, inner voice, value theory



Contemplation on the spiritual dimension of mankind in Existential Analysis in the light of personal reference

Vladimir Shumskiy

When considering L. Feuerbachs thesis, that god is a projection of human potentiality, our spiritual reality could be seen as a trinity: the acting and deciding ego corresponds to the Son; the depth persons corresponds to the Father (including conscience, creative impulses, the ability to love, phenomenological perception, higher emotions); and the Spirit can be seen as the unifying force enabling Son and Father to communicate with one another in the human being. Trinity was interpreted differently in western and eastern Christianity. In eastern Christianity, solely God the Father is origin of the Holy Spirit. Western Christianity, by contrast, sees the origin of the Holy Spirit also in the Son of God. Characteristic features of Russian mentality can be derived from this, becoming apparent in passivity and submissiveness to authorities.

Key words: Trinity, spiritual dimension, person, religion


Phenomenological method in humanistic and existential psychotherapy

Evstigneeva Ekaterina

This study compares the theorization of phenomenology of five existential-humanistic psychotherapeutic approaches (Gestalt therapy, Person-centered therapy, Focusing-oriented therapy, British school of Existential Analysis, Austrian school of Existential Analysis and Logotherapy). Based on philosophic works of Heidegger, Husserl and Mamardashvili, core characteristics of the phenomenological method were identified. The comparative analysis shows that these core characteristics remain invariant in spite of the approach.

Key words: comparative analysis, Existential Analysis, existential psychotherapy, Phenomenology theorization, philosophy