Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Phenomenological and Process Dynamic Characteristics of Existential Identity Crisis

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Phenomenological and Process Dynamic Characteristics of Existential Identity Crisis

Article excerpt


Existential problems accompany a human's life since the moment of a "second birth of an individual", that is, adolescence, and to the end of life's journey. Most frequently four basic contradictions may lead to an existential conflict: the awareness of a finitude of one's existence and the desire to prolong it; need for a structuredness and organization of life and the awareness of lack of such structuredness and organization, one's freedom and responsibility for creation of one's personal world; awareness of the fundamental isolation-loneliness in the indifferent world, and need for the contacts, protection and affiliation; need for meaningfulness of life and the perception of the world where an individual has been "thrown", as meaningless [1].

The central problem will be that of searching for life purpose. According to the philosophical and religious position, it gives the individual an opportunity to live according to one's spiritual entity [2]. In psychology, the problem of meaning of life and searching for life purpose has been connected, first of all, with the phenomenon of self-transcendence of human existence. As noted by V. Frankl, "this notion has to do with the fact that a human existence will always be oriented outwards... to a sense that must be implemented, or another person to whom we are drawn with love. In serving the cause of love to another person an individual realizes oneself... and to the most extent becomes oneself" [3].

The absence of life purpose will lead to an existential frustration or existential vacuum. The existential vacuum will often result in the growing aggressive impulses and focus on pleasure and entertainment. Any attempts to obtain the feeling of happiness bypassing the realization of sense may lead to alcoholism and drug addiction.

The serious hard-to-solve existential problems would create a special condition which is usually called an existential crisis. An existential crisis may be age-related or be a unique stage of an individual's life journey. Age-related existential crises are usually those crises of 30 and 40 years-a time when one would sum up the intermediate life results and get an opportunity to change the life path in a certain aspect, in the field of the professional or family life. Sometimes the teenage and old ages may be regarded as crisis ones, when a process of reflection on one's life and oneself would take place, and also the youth as the period of building particular life plans and formation of personal identity [4-7].

Existential crises of individual life path may occur during the "spiritual awakening", inclusion into an internal conflict of basic values on which the life plan would be grounded, in situations of grief, loss, violence, severe marital conflict, betrayal, infidelity, professional exhaustion, etc. [8-11].

Methods of Research

Psychodiagnostic methods

For the purpose of establishing the presence or absence of experiencing an existential crisis by representatives of different age categories and risk groups we have developed the method EEC-Questionnaire "Experiencing of an existential crisis". The method is aimed to identify the existential crises on different stages of development of an individual, starting from the youthful age. The theoretical base for this method has been the ideas of V. Frankl, E. Erikson, I. Yalom, A. Langle about the substance and manifestations of the existential crises [1,4,6,12].

That is why the main "cluster" has become "the meaninglessness of life", uniting the three scales-"Meaninglessness of social connections", "Meaninglessness of occupation, profession, career", "Depreciation of human life". This cluster is directly connected with the following two-"unsatisfaction with oneself and one's life" (which includes three scales: "Unsatisfaction with oneself", "Unsatisfaction with the past", "Unsatisfaction with the present") and "the problems of freedom and responsibility", which form a separate scale. …

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