International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

The Search for Meaning in Life and the Existential Fundamental Motivations

Alfried Längle

Abstract

Personal meaning is a complex achievement of the human spirit and is found in the individual’s confrontation with the challenges of the world and one’s own being. How can people find orientation in the midst of the innumerable possibilities that characterize our present day and how can this orientation be realised? Phenomenological and empirical research have shown that there are three existential motivations that precede a fourth motivation concerned with finding meaning. The first motivation is framed by the question: How can one relate to the fact of being in the world? The second turns the question around and asks: How can one relate to the fact of having a life? The third: How can one relate to the fact of one’s own individual identity (self)? Individuals are fundamentally looking for a greater context and values for which they want to live. Personal existential meaning (Frankl’s Logotherapy) derives from this. This paper describes the four fundamental aspects of existence that form a matrix for the psychopathological understanding of psychic disorders and provide a background for clinical interventions. They represent the structure and model of modern Existential Analytical Psychotherapy.

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