Existential Crisis

February 04, 2014 at 11:00 AM


I once had a teacher or professor convey this anecdote, or perhaps it’s just an urban legend, about a philosophy instructor who, for his course’s final exam, simply strode to the board and wrote this single interrogative on which his students were to expound.

For some of us, this is a question that may taunt us frequently, if not incessantly.  Why are we here?  What is our purpose?  What is important and meaningful in our lives?  Failing to discern satisfactory answers to these questions might also then leave us with, “Why bother?”

 This yearning for meaning can result in what may be termed an existential crisis.  This might stem from a sense of isolation or loneliness, a sensing of one’s mortality, a failure to grasp any meaning from life, or a sudden or shocking alteration to one’s worldview that could result in a more urgent search for meaning or purpose or, as the French put it, a raison d'être.

Grappling with these questions and this sense of aimlessness can feel overwhelming.  Existential psychotherapy can facilitate improvement by encouraging fully engaging your emotions and taking ownership of your decisions, becoming your own navigator in life and more aware of the wonder and true extent of your existence.  Therapy aids you in promoting freedom and assertiveness within your life without feeling weighed down by obligations and beliefs related to some pre-ordained purpose.  This can help alleviate feelings of despair and thoughts of insignificance and meaninglessness by helping you to see your life as a journey rather than as a trial.


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