Existenzanalyse 2/2013

Tuning into ethics: Introduction and attunement towards the conference theme

Brigitte Heitger-Giger

The theme of the congress will be introduced with related questions, thoughts and pictures. What are the essential questions for us as human beings, committed to seeking knowledge? When talking about ethics – what are the questions we must raise and what will qualify the answers as ethical? Moreover, what is their significance for our life, our living together and our future?
Keywords: ethics, person, human evolution


Unlimited freedom?
On the meaning of norms

Annemarie Pieper

You may not! You should! You must! Restrictions of freedom through prohibitions and regulations are often perceived as unacceptable interferences with the right to self-determination. On the other hand, the freedom of the other is the limit of one’s own freedom and the purpose of norms (moral rules, laws) is to protect them. To prevent them from becoming coercive instruments requires consensus building strategies by all parties involved.
Keywords: freedom, discussion, morality, responsibility


Punishment redeemed – guilt served!?
On the difficult path from public morality to personal inner position

Doris Fischer-Danzinger

The title refers to a common perspective one often faces as a forensic therapist. From a strictly legal point of view the title statement is correct. From the perspective of personality and in terms of prevention however, the development towards establishing a relationship with one’s own morality and conscience is needed. Following several general reflections on this theme, a possible path leading „from public morality (legislation) to personal inner position“ is presented on the basis of a concrete example.
Keywords: forensics, conscience, guilt, ego states


Who decides what is right?

Hans Ruh

Since 1968 it appears that legitimate and less legitimate children of the Enlightenment occupy increasingly dominant and influential positions: autonomy, pluralism, tolerance, freedom, modernity are concepts or values which stand for this.

But for some time now, it becomes apparent that a worldwide trend and countermovement is developing, coming along in a fundamentalist, intolerant, exclusive manner, and violently claiming validity without compromise, and while doing so, allegedly possessing the sole truth and indisputable knowledge of what is right or wrong and being horrified by the total loss of morale by the other side.

The intriguing question now is, whether a position principally oriented towards the Enlightenment could succeed in making binding statements about what is right and whether the fundamentalist side could thereby be impressed.

The thesis supported here points out, that this undertaking can only be achieved if the representatives of autonomy, keeping an eye on freedom of choice and insight by reason, conceive this autonomy as self-commitment to a life and society concept which intellectually includes the needs of all. The attractive thing here is that what’s right can be thought rationally. The problematic thing though, is that it applies to the good-hearted level of thinking but not to social reality.

How rational are ethics?
The meaning of integrated emotion for action guided by ethics

Christine Wicki-Distelkamp

Emotionality and the manner of dealing with emotions are of great significance when coming to orientation and decision making processes guided by ethics. The existential analytical concept of integrated emotion makes an essential distinction between what is good and what is right. A detailed example from psychotherapeutic practice demonstrates work with integrated emotion and attempts to illustrate its importance for processes of orientation, justification, legitimation and decision.

Keywords: rationality – emotionality, primary emotion, integrated emotion, basic value, self-worth



Arno Gruen

Our consciousness is determined by abstractions grounded in the need for an external enemy. Any other way of thinking is considered to be naïve and unrealistic. Empathic perception is thus suppressed and our consciousness is reduced to abstract cognitive ideas as to what reality is about. In that our nature is thus determined by abstractions about what reality is about, our civilisation produces standardized human beings. We become afraid not to fall in line. As a result we end up playing roles, as Goffman describes it. In considering ourselves to be free individuals, we confuse the construction of a persona with the reality of a self based on empathic development. This is why in the 18. Century, the English poet Edward Young could write that “we are born as originals, but die as copies”. This has political consequences since we judge political leaders in terms of their poses and not the actuality of their behaviour. The result is, that we live in societies in which power and nor compassion, empathy and cooperation are the determinants of our actions.


Truth in progress
On the historical foundation of ethic existence

Helmut Dorra

Ethic action and behavior in encounter and community with people is integrated into the temporal and historical dimension of our existence. Ethic existence is historical. Through history it obtains its textual determination.

The truth about ethic existence is therefore a “truth on the way” (Jaspers) happening historically and not to be understood as already expressed by valid contents, principles and laws. It manifests itself in existential appropriation, in realization and commitment, as well as in recognition of the nonrecurring and intangible kairos in which truths ways always come about differently.
Keywords: ethics (ethic of discussion, historicity, categorical imperative, practical reason, ethic of responsibility), existential communication, kairos, choice of self, truth



Rüdiger Safranski

Evil is the price of freedom. It must be distinguished from evil striving towards evil for reasons of illness. Desiring or taking pleasure in evil can be conceived as self-transgression. This option to evil originates from freedom, but it obtains a complementary counterbalance through the self-committing forces of morality.

Keywords: ethics, morality, freedom, evil, illness


On authenticity and conscience

Alfried Längle

An introductory attempt is made in determining what is right through formal criteria, and subsequently by means of coordinates from the cultural-anthropological matrix of the Judaeo-Christian occident. Here, the distinction between the Aramaic concept of the word (Memra) and the Greek word Logos is essential for the comprehension of that what is right (and of the person). The term Logos situates what is right closer to reason, while the Aramaic rather dwelled on the domain of speech.

This background creates a bridge towards comprehending the essence of the human being as well as the thereof derivable personally right, which is then reflected upon from the phenomenological perspective of Existential Analysis. In the process, particularly the manifestation of the person in terms of (internally speaking) accordance is dealt with, since the fundaments of moral behavior based on conscience are seen therein. The practical access and the mode of experience are then described in accordance with this insight. In the fulfillment of existence however it is not possible to comply with an absolute claim on the rightness of decisions. An example of a psychotherapeutic reflection on an ethical dilemma elucidates what can be done to enable a non-alienated, existential course of life through an anchorage within the inner, authentic self.

Keywords: ethics, conscience, logos, morality, person


Body oriented access towards inner coherency
A dialogue with existential analytical and osteopathic principles and their psychotherapeutic implications

Markus Angermayr, Liliane Strassl

Following a short introduction into the body-corporeity problem in the anthropology of Existential Analysis, this article deals with the body-corporeity-dialogue as an access to the phenomenon of “inner coherency”, which is regarded as the source of ethical attitude. In the process, the concepts of osteopathy (tissue dialogue) and Existential Analysis (incorporated self) are presented.

We focus on the following question: Aside from oral expression, how can a dialogue with hands, through listening tactility and touch, contribute to connecting with this source? Which ethical implications does a corporeity-oriented approach have for the therapeutic relationship? Thereby, a central exercise is presented which creates conditions, opens up a space of experience and indicates a direction as to wherefrom an answer might appear.

This deepens one`s own feeling-consciousness, which becomes apparent in growing confidence and in the meaning of the corporeally perceived experience. Through this deepened phenomenological integration of body-corporeal experience new margins of freedom in therapeutic treatment can evolve.

Keywords: phenomenology, coherence, body-corporeal-dialogue, corporeity, body, incorporated self


Why sexual activities within the psychotherapeutic relationship are toxic

Godela von Kirchbach and Wilfried Peinhaupt

Psychotherapy takes place within the framework of a contract defining the duties and obligations of both parties. This allows the client to trust that he will receive professional and disinterested help for his problems against payment. It has been scientifically proven that a stable and trustful therapeutic relationship constitutes the most important active factor in psychotherapies. This relationship is asymmetrical in authority as well as power, and is in favour of the therapist who therefore carries the sole responsibility. This imbalance causes great temptation, particularly for male therapists. But the therapeutic relationship is fundamentally altered by sexual activities and that constitutes a breach of contract. Furthermore, old traumata are often reactivated by this kind of abuse and pathologies worsen. In addition, both the client’s trust in psychotherapy as a whole and the trust among psychotherapists are damaged. The article looks at these occurrences from an existential analytical, psychological, sociological and neurophysiological perspective.

Keywords: psychotherapeutic relationship, sexual acts, relationship of trust, imbalance of power, abuse



Caroline Balogh

Breath allows us to inhabit our bodies, to be close to our feelings and to open up a space in which our person can speak up. Breath is the intersection between body, mind and soul and can operate all three human dimensions simultaneously, whereas using our consciousness, we can only approach one at a time. The article seeks to look into this matter more closely.

Keywords: breath, Fundamental Motivations, body, person


Psychotherapy – between bad conscience and serenity

Erika Luginbühl

The treatment of people with mental illnesses is a task requiring responsibility. Psychotherapists undergo great deals of pressure to succeed, and if the recovery does not come about fast enough, self-doubt and bad conscience can arise. This article points out how – on the basis of the existential analytic theory, as well as concrete practical experience – serenity can counter the above mentioned bad conscience.

Keywords: ethics, conscience, essentialities


The compass lies inside.

A contribution from Ignatian spirituality on the question: What is right?

Rupert Dinhobl

The article picks up on the experimental method of the so-called “discernment of spirits”, the centerpiece of Ignatius of Loyola’s (1491 – 1556) spiritual exercises and attempts to make it fruitful to the daily routine of psychotherapy. Ignatius book on spiritual exercises provides guidance for good decisions concerning the question as to what is right, what is good for me. Particular emphasis is attached to existential analytical equivalence. Biblical-theological remarks complement the contribution.

Keywords: spiritual exercises (Ignatius), decision, emotion (discernment of spirits), PEA


What am I to do now?
Challenges for proficient consultancy work

Klaudia Gennermann

People seeking counselling or therapy probably are dealing with the question of what they should do for some time already, and they have obviously failed in finding a satisfactory answer. Exhausted and sometimes desperate due to their futile efforts, some clients demand direct advice and transfer their responsibility for the “problem solving” to the consultant.

The challenge lies in the task, to not comply with the urgent request of the client and so to supposedly refuse his concern. It is rather necessary to delegate the responsibility back to the client without deepening his despair or even disappointing his hope for advice.

In the following I want to show what kind of skills can assist the consultant in this task and how they relate to Existential Analysis.

Keywords: counselling, crisis, responsibility, Existential Analysis, attitude, awe, serenity


Longing for meaningful labour

Corinne Lindt Zbinden

Isn’t it something that most people long for; to do meaningful work? But what possibilities do we have to experience meaning, especially if the professional circumstances are rather adverse and we cannot quit our job from one day to another? “Meaning and work” – what are the perspectives of philosophers, spiritual leaders and management consultants on this issue and what can we learn from logotherapy?

Keywords: experience meaning at work, spirituality, philosophy, management consultant, logotherapy, extend your own scope


Which counselor is the right choice?

Thomas Reichel

The demand regarding coaching or life counseling seems to increase consistently. To ask for guidance and counseling in certain questions of life or in job related affairs is meanwhile common. But which counselor is convenient for which client? What should the client keep in mind when looking for a counselor? What should be the character of professional consulting?

This workshop pursued these questions and now has interesting answers to offer.

Keywords: counseling, personality, biography, empathy


Basic ethical values of successful companies – how to steer through the financial crisis and demographic change

Irene Kloimüller

Sustainable companies are characterized and upheld by ethics of high responsibility towards their employees, a culture of trust, credibility in its leadership, an appreciation of all members regardless their age, fairness in the distribution of tasks and a close orientation towards meaning in their work. This is how they ensure commitment and working ability for their employees and turn into attractive employers in the “battle” to recruit the best on the labor market.

Keywords: economic ethics, business ethics, demographic change, resilience


New job – new identity?

Helene Drexler

In therapy, one can often observe a phenomenon in which people who outwardly appear confident and strong change their attitudes and behaviour as soon as they start in a new working environment, in other words change their employer. They very soon strongly identify themselves with the new corporate culture and thus adopt its values.

Later, after the person has left the company, he/she is critical of his/her time in the organisation, and complains that his/her own values and views were not recognised. Surprisingly, this process repeats itself all over again with the next employer.

In this presentation the factors underlying this behaviour will be explored from an existential-analytical and therapeutic perspective: Which personality characteristics and needs predispose people to behave in this way, and which company characteristics particularly motivate people to identify with the organisation – because there are significant differences between various corporate philosophies with respect to their influence on the employees.

Focal points of work in existential-analytical therapy are then presented, that can strengthen the affected individuals and make it easier for them to survive the tensions between external constraints and internal convictions.

Key words: self-esteem, authenticity, external orientation, achievement orientation, histrionic personality, identification, personnel policy



Roman Biberich

In psychotherapy with children and adolescents we often reach a point at which we must ask ourselves, or are asked, if our procedure is (still) therapeutic or (already) pedagogic. Furthermore: Is it allowable, that pedagogy takes place alongside and in therapy? Is it at all possible and reasonable or necessary to separate psychotherapy from pedagogy? Or is it so, that one cannot function without the other? The following pages reflect upon the relations between psychotherapy and pedagogy while focusing mainly on the examination of individual terms in search of congruencies and differences. In favor of a uniform starting basis for the following remarks, particularities in psychotherapy of minors as well as underlying assumptions on the conception of mankind are firstly presented. An outline of the concepts pedagogy and psychotherapy follows in order to then present a comparison and derived theses.

Keywords: education, upbringing, children and adolescents, pedagogy, psychotherapy


The personally right at school – an existential challenge

Hans-Jürgen Strauch

At school, the system’s authority traditionally defines what is right. That practice, however, no longer seems applicable at many schools. This is expressed in growing problems, such as absences and various forms of interruptions. At the same time, schools regarding their pupils as serious dialogic partners and chosing a more accepting attitude in confrontation are becoming increasingly  successful, having implemented a culture of openness, in which a more vivid form of schooling can thrive. Here, the values of pupils are a call to action for those

accompanying their learning process. This allows pupils to find development potential with transcendental meaning for themselves within the learning process.

KEYWORDS: dialogic relationships, learning process, development potential, guidance and support


The Will of God – an approach

Werner Eichinger

The Bible and conscience are often seen as the primary sources for the knowledge of the “Will of God”. But this is not unproblematic. Here, the author follows an approach rooted in Existential Analysis, interpreting the existential experiences of amazement and indignation as primary emotions. The conscience can then be seen as a place where a reference value that transcends the situation and the person is articulated and this reference value counterfactually anticipates “the good” – or the “Will of God”. This has to be understood in a procedural and not in a sentence-like manner.

KEYWORDS: conscience, theology, primary emotion


Reconciliation: The Path to Peacebuilding in Africa

Chudi Joseph IBEANU

Recent years have seen many regions of Africa involved in wars and internal or external conflicts. Even those who survive the wars live with deep-seated resentment, bitterness and hatred of others. This worrisome situation calls for urgent solution in order to prevent the possibility of what we may call continental genocide.

My effort here is to rediscover the African traditional means of reconciliation that can be used in any sincere and meaningful effort for peace building in Africa. One of such traditional means of reconciliation is the “Igba ndu”   ritual of reconciliation as practiced by the Igbos of South-Eastern Nigeria, which is culminated in the “oriko” meal of reconciliation. The essence of “Igba ndu” ritual of reconciliation is the re-establishment of the already destroyed trust in the broken relationship so that the human persons involved can begin to live a life devoid of fear and suspicion. It helps to the re-discovery of the dignity of each individual person and the deep awareness of who we are: one community of human persons!

This understanding is already rooted in the African world view (Weltanschaung), in which the Africans understand themselves as “Community” (Gemeinschaft) or “Family”. This is expressed in the African philosophy of life: “I am because we are. And the more we are, the more I am.” („Ich bin, weil wir sind. Und je mehr wir sind, desto mehr ich bin”.)

The Zulus of South Africa describe the same understanding like this: „Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu“ – “person is a person through the other persons“(die Person ist Person durch die anderen Personen).

Key words: peace building, reconciliation, relationship, community