International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

A Dialectical Perspective on Existential Crisis and Mental health Crisis in Context of Covid-19 Pandemic: A Phenomenological Study

Gurpreet Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology, Goverment Mohindra College, Patiala, Punjab, India


Using Yalom’s “existential givens “of death, isolation, meaninglessness, and
freedom and Tillich’s domains of existential anxiety as theoretical framework, this
paper aimed to explore and analyse the dialectics of the existential crisis and mental
health crisis experienced during Covid-19 pandemic. Using a qualitative phenomenological research design, this study uses in-depth individual interviews to collect data from 27 participants. In-depth interviews and Focus group
discussions were recorded, transcribed, and thematically analysed with
Moustakas’s (1994) method of data analysis. Six themes major themes were
amalgamated to develop the composite invariant structure of lived experiences of
the participants: (1) fear of death; (2) mental distress; (3) meaninglessness of
existence; (4) transcendence; (5) post-traumatic growth; and (6) isolation. The
existential dread caused by the contagious variants of novel coronavirus spurred a
global dialectical reckoning with existential paradoxes of life, death, isolation,
freedom and meaninglessness. The existential anxiety precipitated by the pandemic
negatively impacted the mental health of people. However, the pandemic also
served as an “urgent experience” for existential adjustments, existential
transcendence and post-traumatic growth. The findings suggest that integrative
meaning therapies and humanistic-existential therapies are effective interventions
to help human beings meaningfully face and accept the ultimate givens of life: in
particular mortality, isolation and meaninglessness (Yalom, 1980) with potentials
for existential transcendence (Wong, 2021).

Keywords: existential crisis, existential anxiety, Covid-19 pandemic, mental health,
existential transcendence

PDF article download available to INPM Regular Members only. Login or Join now or purchase this article here