I came across an incredible children’s book called, What Do You Do With A Problem. I found it to be one of the best explanations of the existential approach to problems in life. The story touches on some existential themes such as anxiety, depression, isolation, freedom, and responsibility.
The book, Existential Therapy: Distinctive Features by Emmy van Deurzen is a good reminder to view each person as a free individual, responsible for their life. But, on another level, the is a book about how to push a particular set of belief on another person.
The aim of the book is to introduce readers to the key concepts of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). REBT is a type of therapy developed by Albert Ellis, a 20th-century psychologist. Ellis maintained that we disturb ourselves and make ourselves angry, anxious and depressed about external events. He claimed that by understanding our underlying philosophy behind why we become upset, we can choose a new philosophy that is more helpful and realistic, which in turn will allow us to navigate life’s difficulties with more ease.
If you’d like a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review on Amazon, please contact me.
Below you can read an excerpt from the book:
Existentialism (as I see it) is the idea that we can explain human behavior according to reasons (choices), not causes. To this end, I have been interested to read how existentialism is used as a practical tool to help people understand themselves and their lives. I picked up the book, Existential Perspectives On Coaching, edited by Emmy van Deurzen, to see if I could gain insight into how coaches use the existential approach to help people with problems in living.
Thomas Szasz’s book of witty aphorisms, The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary, is both insightful and hilarious. If you are just starting out with Szasz, and want to understand his views, I suggest one of his books of aphorisms, such as The Untamed Tongue as a place to start.
In a debate, recorded in 1977, Thomas Szasz and Albert Ellis argue over the concept of mental illness. Szasz argues forcefully and humorously for his position that mental illness is a sort of metaphor for problems in life. Albert Ellis maintains that mental illness is a useful concept that should not be dismissed.
Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning documents his experiences in concentration camps during Nazi occupation. During this time, Frankl lost his wife, his brother and parents in concentration camps. The first half of the book is a disturbing tale about how Jews should find meaning through Nazi dehumanization, while the second half of the book entitled, Logotherapy in a Nutshell, is a sales pitch for Frankl’s pseudo-religious therapy called, Logotherapy.
Can a person live a flourishing, purpose-filled life in spite of chronic illness and near constant pain? According to author Suzy Szasz, the answer is a resounding, “yes”. Szasz’s book, Lupus. Living With It: Why You Don’t Have To Be Healthy to Be Happy, is written with an enthusiasm for life. Despite her constant battle with the exhausting chronic illness, Lupus, Szasz retains her meaning in life by refusing to become a victim of her disease.
I recently had the chance to chat with author William Ferraiolo, about the philosophy of Stoicism and what brought him to write his book, Meditations on Self-Discipline and Failure: Stoic Exercise for Mental Fitness.
The idea that mental anguish is an illness is dehumanizing and destroys the concept of what it means to be a person. The concept of “mental illness” creates a less-than-human creature who’s distressing feelings and behaviors are illegitimate. For the existentialist, loneliness, boredom, despair, and meaninglessness, are central to life. They are problems to be overcome, not diseases to be cured.
The medicalization of addiction destroys the concept of personhood, creating a Zombie incapable of change. Schaler gives science, logic, and empirical observations to show that addiction is, in fact, a choice.
In polite society, one does not question the medical model of addiction. To do so is considered unkind and unscientific.
Jeffrey Schaler shows his irreverence for conventional thinking in his book, Addiciton is a Choice. Schaler gives science, logic, and empirical observations to show that addiction is, in fact, a choice.
What is existentialism and what does it have to do with living a good life?
According to William Irwin, author of The Free Market Existentialist: Capitalism without Consumerism, existentialism is a philosophy of life that:
…reacts to an apparently absurd or meaningless world by urging the individual to overcome alienation, oppression, and despair through freedom and self-creation in order to become a genuine person1.
Are some drugs dangerous and other drugs safe?
In his book, Ceremonial Chemistry, Thomas Szasz details how drugs such as opium has been used for thousands of years, yet suddenly come to be considered dangerous. For author Thomas Szasz, addiction lies in the meaning that we assign to chemicals; not the chemical makeup of the drugs themselves.