Irvin Yalom’s Existential Factors

Existential psychotherapist (and the author of Lying on the CouchWhen Nietzsche WeptandThe Schopenhauer Cure) Irvin Yalom suggests that humans face five existential factors that play a large role in our lives and in the success of psychotherapy. This is how he describes them in The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, on page 98:

1. Recognizing that life is at times unfair and unjust

2. Recognizing that ultimately there is no escape from some of life’s  pain or from death

3. Recognizing that no matter how close I get to other people, I must still face life alone

4. Facing the basic issues of my life and eath, and thus living my life more honestly and being less caught up in trivialities

5. Learning that I must take ultimate responsibility for the way I live my life no matter how much guidance and support I get from others

[First published on Nathen’s Miraculous Escape, June 14, 2010.]