Existential Issues

CORONAVIRUS ALERT: Pay Attention to your Mental Health

These trying times are hard on us psychologically! With the focus on the very real threat of the Coronavirus to our physical health, it is easy to overlook the impact that this pandemic is having on our mental health. The virus and our necessary response to it are creating two of the emotional conditions that… Read more »

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Losing Kobe: Why We Experience Grief and Sadness for People We’ve Never Met

When my oldest son called to share the devastating news with us, my mind wandered to memories of Lakers games we’d taken him to in Bakersfield, L.A., and Charlotte. At the time, we were ‘Californians’ and a trip to the Staples Center was quality family weekend time. Kobe was always there.  My youngest, a California… Read more »

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Living while dying – Notes from the resistance

“It’s precisely because we’re finite that life is so sweet.” – Sheldon Solomon Last month I got the opportunity to meet Ady Barkan, a progressive activist who’s become one of the most powerful voices in the fight to move the United States to a universal healthcare system, sometimes dubbed “Medicare for All”.  The meeting took place at… Read more »

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The Origin of Polarization, Prejudice, and Warfare

One of the most significant contributions of my theoretical approach, Separation Theory, is that it offers an understanding of the core dynamics underlying human aggression. It explains how people’s defensive nature and dependency on fantasy bonds polarize them against others with different customs and beliefs. In a similar vein, Schneider’s (2013) concept of “psychological polarization” describes the elevation of one… Read more »

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An Overview of Separation Theory

Separation Theory integrates psychoanalytic and existential systems of thought by showing how early interpersonal pain, and separation anxiety and later death anxiety lead to the development of powerful psychological defenses. These defenses attempt to cope with and minimize painful experiences and emotions suffered in one’s developmental years but later predispose limitations and maladaptation in adult… Read more »

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6 Major Influences that Stop You from Becoming Your True Self

To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best, day and night, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~ e.e. cummings Each individual faces a struggle against powerful odds to retain a unique selfhood and personal… Read more »

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Factors that Increase or Suppress Death Anxiety

Death anxiety encompasses a broad spectrum of emotions ranging from a few passing moments of fear to a complete state of panic. In either case, the experience is painful on a feeling level or, at its worst, terrifying. For this reason, most people find a way to obliterate images of death’s finality from their conscious… Read more »

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Societal Defenses Against Death Anxiety

Faced with the painful awareness of death’s finality, individuals try to recreate a parent or parents in other people, groups, or institutions, or they search for a personal savior on earth or in the heavens. Just as the imagined merger with one’s family once provided its members with an illusion of immortality, group identification offers… Read more »

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Death Anxiety

Although largely unconscious, the awareness of our finite existence, the fact that we all must die, has a profound impact on our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The fear and emotional anguish associated with anticipating the end of life are so painful that we must protect ourselves. People find it difficult to tolerate facing their mortality… Read more »

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A Psychological Perspective on Human Destructiveness

My inspiration for writing this blog springs from a deep feeling for people and a grave concern that without a proper understanding of the reasons for their inhumanity in relation to one another and the development of a compassionate world view, it is likely that human beings will eventually destroy themselves and life on the planet. Despite… Read more »

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