The opposite of freedom is automatic conformism. Freedom from addictions generates anxiety, which courage allows to resist. The price of freedom is the inevitability of evil. If a person is free to choose, no one can guarantee that his choice will be so, and not otherwise. All the great saints considered themselves great sinners, for they were extremely sensitive to good and evil. Susceptibility to goodness means sensitivity to the consequences of one's actions; expanding the potential for good, it simultaneously expands opportunities for evil. Releasing is the goal of psychotherapy - relief from symptoms, from coercion, from non-constructive skills. At the same time, psychotherapy seeks to understand the patient's capabilities, his freedom to choose his way of life, accepting the inevitable. Existential psychotherapy, according to May, is not a school that opposes other psychotherapeutic schools. It, on the contrary, allows to expand and deepen the context of any psychotherapy.
Mei realized that the main cause of his illness was despair, a sense of doom and lack of self-affirmation. He learned to listen to his body, internally concentrating, like meditation, to understand when to do something, and when to rest. May realized that treatment is an active process in which he himself must participate.
The concept of fearMay believed that Freud's second conception of fear had a positive significance, since it led to a symbolic understanding of the experience of birth and castration, building a series of phenomena: the fear of losing a mother at birth, the fear of losing the penis during the phallic period, the fear of losing approval from Super-I and the fear of losing life. In his understanding, an important aspect was that ultimately the source of anxiety is the fear of losing a mother (the fear of separation from the mother), or, in other words, the fear of losing values. At the same time, he thought that in the second concept of fear, the emphasis on libido obscured the problem, while the libido should be viewed as not an economic phenomenon, but a function that depended on the values or goals sought by the person in the relationship with the outside world . Having considered the views on anxiety expressed by Kierkegaard and Freud, as well as by various researchers, including such representatives of psychoanalysis as Rank, Horney, Sullivan, Fromm, May came to the following conclusions:
1) Anxiety is a fear in a situation where a value that is vitally important to a person as a person is under threat;
2) The sense of danger when experiencing anxiety does not need to be more intense than the feeling of fear, but the feeling of anxiety covers the person at a deeper level, posing a threat to the very core of the person;
3) anxiety is more painful than fear;
4) the various fears a person experiences are based on his security system, while anxiety threatens the very security system;
5) anxiety is an undifferentiated emotional reaction to danger, and fear is a differentiated emotional response in response to specific alarm signals;
6) anxiety is a primary phenomenon, and fear is secondary.
By distinguishing between normal and neurotic anxiety, May proceeded from the fact that the first type of anxiety is adequate to the objective danger, does not lead to the repression or formation of an intrapsychic conflict, a person can deal with it constructively, using his abilities, rather than neurotic protective mechanisms. The second, ie. neurotic, anxiety refers to the subjective side of a person and testifies to internal psychological processes and conflicts that prevent him from using his abilities.In the case of neurotic anxiety, repression creates internal contradictions, creating a threat of violation of psychological balance, hides a real danger that a person could cope with, increases the sense of helplessness, as a person is forced to set limits and refuse to use his power.
According to May, normal anxiety is inherent in the body by its nature, and its qualitative features and forms are formed by each person in the learning process. In general, anxiety is a sign that indicates that a person is not all right in his personal life and in relationships with other people. It can be seen as an inside call for the need to resolve the problem. In principle, a person can not avoid anxiety as such, he can not reduce it. Mastering anxiety consists in reducing it to a normal level, and then - in using normal anxiety as a stimulus to increased awareness, alertness and vitality.
In May's understanding, anxiety is inseparably linked with the existential aspects of human existence, and in this sense a complete absence of it is impossible. Another thing is that neurotic anxiety is the result of a failed attempt to cope with past experiences of anxiety, especially in early childhood. But it is possible to constructively use normal anxiety, which consists not in walking around it and not in humility with it, but in moving through an alarming situation. Therefore, man's courage is not in the absence of anxiety and fear, but in the ability to move on, even when experiencing fear, and to overcome anxiety-provoking experiences. It is about the creative ability of a person to overcome a neurotic conflict, to transcend neurotic anxiety into a normal one and to live with it.
In a word, anxiety for May is the most important element of human existence. It makes sense, and it can be used constructively. Meeting with her can free a person from boredom, sharpen her perception, create a tension on which the preservation of life is based. In existential terms, anxiety is nothing more than an experience of being asserting itself against the backdrop of non-being, and therefore a person needs independence and freedom for a constructive confrontation with her.
Like some psychoanalysts, R. May held an existential view of the phenomenon of man. He believed that it is impossible to adequately describe and understand the existence of a person on an essential basis. This did not mean that existential psychotherapy denied approaches based on the study of drives, discrete mechanisms of the functioning of the body and the human psyche. But she proceeded from the premise that if a person's image is based solely on such methods, it does not lead to anything good.
The more accurately the forces and drives are defined, the less definitely the existence of man. After all, in real life a person always uses forces and drives in a unique way. Therefore, the existential approach to human being is based on the consideration of the mechanisms of action through the prism of the individual, and not of the individual through the prism of the mechanisms of action, as was the case in psychological theories that relied on the biological, physical and chemical laws of functioning of a living organism.
For May, existentialism in psychology and psychotherapy meant not a special school, but a special approach to human being. Existential psychotherapy was presented to him as a special attitude towards therapy, not the therapy system as such, an interest in understanding the structure of human being and its experiences, rather than a set of new techniques. In this sense, any psychoanalyst and psychotherapist are existential insofar as they are able to perceive the patient in his reality.
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