10/2/12 by Meg Barker
10th February 2012 was the fourth meeting of the Northern Existential Group (NEG). This time we focused our discussions on Bo Jacobsen‘s paper What is happiness? The concept of happiness in existential psychology and therapy, which was published in the journal Existential Analysis in 2007. Here I will present a brief overview of the paper and then summarise our discussions about the nature of happiness and what an existential perspective might have to offer on the subject. We were also very lucky to receive a response to this summary from Bo Jacobsen himself, which is included at the end of this post.
Posted in Freedom and responsibility, Meaning, Mental health and therapy
Tagged Ahmed, Happiness, humanistic therapy, Majid, mindfulness, positive psychology, psychology, sociology, therapy, Van Deurzen
24th November 2011 saw the third meeting of the Northern Existential Group (NEG). This month our reading was a paper called ‘A Road Less Travelled‘ by M. Guy Thompson. Based on the author’s own relationship with R.D. Laing, the paper wove together biography of the famous ‘anti-psychiatrist’ with an account of his understanding of the concept of ‘authenticity’. What did authenticity mean to Laing, and how well did he embody it within his own life?
This paper was a perfect one for the NEG as our discussions tend to focus on the personal and pragmatic issues of the concepts under consideration. Are these existential ideas something that we want to strive for in our own lives and, if so, how might we go about that?
Here we will briefly introduce R. D. Laing for those who are unfamiliar with him. We will outline the concept of authenticity as it is presented in M. Guy Thompson’s paper, and then give a flavour of the NEG discussion on the topic.
7th September 2011 saw the second meeting of the Northern Existential Discussion Group. This month our reading was a short essay by the existential psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, called The Case for Tragic Optimism. He wrote this in 1984 as a postscript to his classic book about his experiences of the holocaust: Man’s Search for Meaning. The essay makes the case for finding meaning in life despite the inevitable tragedies which we will experience. Frankl is, perhaps, one of the most accessible existentialist writers to read, and the essay is very engaging and thought-provoking indeed.
Here I’ll say a bit more about the author, summarise his argument, and then give a flavour of our discussions: what we found inspiring about the essay, and where we felt it was limited or problematic.