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Existentialism: Strengths Vs. Weaknesses

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Existentialism: Strengths vs. Weaknesses

Existentialism is the basic belief that everything in life is a choice and self fulfillment is the ultimate goal. Though there are many strong points to existentialism, there are also many other psychology approaches that refute it. In this paper I will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of existentialism and provide my own opinion and insight into the topic.

The existentialism psychology approach can be a very useful and practical solution to solve psychological issues. It places a lot of emphasis on four different themes; death, meaninglessness and isolation, and. Psychologist then place patients into these themes to see how best to treat them. Therapy is successful because everyone is treated as a special case with no preset course for their therapy. In "Fat Lady" by Yalom Betty struggles with isolation and meaninglessness in her life. Yalom treats her differently because her situation is different, she is obese. Yalom infers that her loneliness is due to her obesity and goes about trying to solve her weight problem and the factors that led to it. In this situation Yalom's use of the 4 themes helped him uncover Betty's problems and help solve them.

The weaknesses of categorizing people into the four themes are also important. Existentialism cannot claim to treat everyone in different ways if they place them into one of the four themes of existentialism. There are some patients whose problems may not fall into any of the above themes. In this case the psychologist might treat the patient incorrectly believing they fall into a category they don't belong to. If Betty did not have an obvious weight problem them Yalom might not have realized what led her to being isolated and lonely. Yalom could just as easily thought that Betty's obesity was a result that she was afraid of death because her father died as he was getting skinnier, the reality being she was afraid of loneliness. Trying to place people into categories but then using different treating methods for everyone is a weakness of the four themes.

Existentialism believes that we are conscious of all of our decisions and have the free will to freely make decisions about one's own behavior and life. It assumes that people make their own choices about their behavior rather than relying on societal standards. Existentialists believe that abnormal behavior is caused by intentional choices to act like that. An example would be convicting someone with Multiple Personality Disorder of a crime when they have no idea if they did it or not. It could have been a split personality which committed the crime. Existentialist would declare that the murderer is responsible for their actions. A weakness of this is that some believe people like this are victims to forces beyond their control, like having Multiple Personality Disorder. Unconscious decision making seems to have little or no part in existentialism. They believe



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