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He can then be influenced to live what he now understands but has yet to do. The therapist or doctor must encourage the patient or awaken his social interest and raise his level of energy along with it. By developing a genuine human relationship with the patient, the therapist or doctor can re-establish the basic form of social interest, which the patient can use in transferring it to others. Both therapist and patient must realize that the latter's ultimate cure can come only from him.
Adler's approach has similarities with that of Socrates (Stein 1991). Socrates exhorted others to "know thyself," while Adler urged that people should think for themselves (Meyer 1980 as qtd in Stein 1991). Like Socrates, he would lead the person or patient through a series of questions to a contradiction within himself as revealed by his own answers. Both philosophers were committed to the search for truth through reason. Both helped the troubled person or patient understand his own values and beliefs. Both philosophers practiced tact, wisdom, humility, eloquence and patience. They both valued freedom, courage, responsibility and inner integrity (Stein).
Adler's theory seems less interesting than Freud's and Carl Jung's, but it is the most sensible and acceptable (Boeree 1997). Its clear description of complaints, his straightforward and common-sense interpretation of problems, his simple theoretical structure, trust and affection for the common person make it acceptable, comfortable and very influential (Stein).
Adler's therapy encourages a patient to overcome his feelings of insecurity, develop deeper feelings of connectedness and redirect his striving for significance into more socially acceptable and satisfying directions or goals (Adler 1932). Through carefully planned dialogue, he is led and challenged to correct mistaken assumptions or perceptions, attitudes, behaviors and feelings about himself, others and the world. Through constant encouragements, the patient becomes stimulated to do what he always thought he could not. The outcome would consist of growth of self-confidence, pride and gratification, which can lead to a greater desire to cooperate with the therapist. The goal of therapy is to replace exaggerated, false and damaging self-protective attitude patterns, self-enhancement, and self-indulgence with courage and balanced or healthy social interest (Adler).
Adler believed that treatment should not focus on a symptom or a single expression but on the mistake made in the entire life style of the patient and in the way his mind interpreted his experiences, in the meaning he gave to life in the past and in his actions through which he answered the impressions his body received from the environment (1932). These are the data that tell the therapist something about the patient's psychology in so far as these provide evidence of the life style. Life styles are the proper subject of psychology as well as the proper material for investigation. This is the area of study for those who investigate stimuli and reactions and those who trace the effect of trauma or a shocking experience. Individual psychology deals with the psyche itself, the unified human mind and examines the meanings that the patient has given himself and its world, his goals, the directions and quality of his strivings and the approaches or means he has used to solve or deal with problems (Adler).
Existentialist Theory. - Existentialism derived from the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, Soren Kiergaard and the German philosophers Friedrich Niezsche, Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger (Wikipedia 2005). It was particularly popular during the 20th century because f the works of French writer-philosophers Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Its tenet was popularly structured and expressed by Sartre's dictum, "existence precedes essence," which suggests that the meaning or purpose of a person's life or existence is not something that is already established but that he chooses that meaning or purpose. Each person defines his own life. Because there is no pre-existing or ultimate evaluation beyond what he projects into the world, he can therefore be judged or defined only by his actions and choices. It makes human choices the ultimate evaluator of that existence or life. Its progenitor was Nietzsche's concept of eternal return, or that "things lose their value because they cease to exist." If all things exist all at the same time, people would be burdened with too many levels of importance. But because things are transient, they lose their value. This condition makes the only conceivable reality as the sole judge of good or evil. If only things currently in existence have meaning, without rules, limitations, laws and purpose, then truth or essence is only the projection of that which is the product of existence or collective experiences. Truth must exist before it so that it is not only the predecessor but also the ruler of its own objectivity (Wikipedia).
Because man has complete freedom to make his own decisions and possesses the responsibility for the outcome of his decisions, he develops a kind of anxiety or angst about these choices (Wikipedia 2005). Therapists use existential philosophy to explain the anxiety experienced by patients out of the belief that patients can confront that anxiety and use it positively or constructively. In confronting and taking that anxiety as something inevitable, the patient or person can use it to pursue and attain their fullest life potential. Irvin Yalom (1980 as qtd in Center for Existential Depth Psychology 2004) offered an organizational structure in attempting to understand existential theory through four main themes of death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness. His existential psychotherapy should, however, not be taken as a comprehensive overview as it is too broad to summarize. It appears better to take several individual theories.
One major distinction between existential theorists us their view as to whether they can answer questions of existence and, in general, theorists agree that such questions cannot be answered while they are in finite form (Center for Existential Depth Psychology 2004). Some philosophers and psychologists believe that there are no final or ultimate answers to these questions. John Paul Sartre and Irvin Yalom are among them. Many have come to believe that existentialism is inherently atheistic, nihilistic and pessimistic. But this is not true about many existential thinkers and those who think so do not have a good grasp and understanding of the breadth and foundation of existentialist thought. Existentialists hold and offer a very optimistic viewpoint on the potential for good and growth, which is intrinsic in human nature and the human condition. Some of them would point to a spiritual or religious basis for the optimism, but even when existential thinkers take on the positive stance, they would not deny the reality of the challenges and horrifying consequences of being human. Among those who expressed the horror were the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, Christian theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich, Jewish theologian and philosopher Martin Buber and psychologist Rollo May. These two groups represent the split between a spiritual existential approach and an atheistic or non-spiritual existential approach. The spiritual existential approach is not necessarily a religious one in the sense of acknowledging in God, although it can be so interpreted. But it offers a kind of transcendent or embodied answer to the major existential questions. In contrast, the non-spiritualist existential approach covers those who believe that there are no answers to those questions (Center for Existential Depth Psychology).
The existential theory emphasizes a deep respect for the individual person (Park). It holds that human beings are in a state of constant transition and evolution. It allows total and independent choice, freedoms, personal responsibility and self-determination. A man controls his own life and, therefore, must take responsibility for his own actions. Under the theory, loneliness is a natural experience and condition. It is he alone who creates meanings in his life when he answers questions on who he is, where he has been and where he is going. He knows that, sooner or later, he must face death or a state of non-being (Park).
The key concepts behind the existential theory are the capacity for self-awareness, freedom and responsibility, the striving for identity and relationship with others, the search for meaning, anxiety as a condition of living and awareness of death and non-being (Park). Clients or patients with mental disorders have that built-in capacity for self-awareness and it becomes their sole choice to expand it. It is they who choose to live freely and fully or they can choose to restrict themselves.
Every man is a free being who must accept that reality and responsibility for his actions (Park). He is responsible for the choice of his own destiny and this he does when he freely chooses from among alternatives or options. The responsibility for his own acts, therefore, lies within him and not outside or with other persons. A client or patient also has the intrinsic concern to preserve his uniqueness and identity. He learns about himself in his relationships and interactions with others. He strives to develop his personal identity or self, although this requires much courage, struggle and a huge…[continue]
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