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The Future of Existential Psychology: Was Nietzsche Right?

If the future of Existential Psychology could be reduced to a bumper sticker, it might be this one: “Nietzsche Was Right.”

In 1882, Nietzsche put some stunning words in the mouth of a character: God is dead, we have killed him, and the implications are staggering. Let me quote from the passage:

“Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater event—and on account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history than any history hitherto!”

The prophetic madman then realizes he has come too early: that the understanding of what’s happening has not dawned on mankind. But it will. It will.

A crisis was coming to the Western psyche, and Nietzsche was its most famous prophet. But he wasn’t the only one. Carl Jung saw it coming as well: in his masterpiece “Triumph of the Therapeutic,” Philip Rieff describes the entire Jungian project as pre-emptive effort to head off a collective crisis of the spirit by giving the western world a new kind of religion, one based on inner symbols that we could all put in the center of our psychological lives. To the extent that it is true it remains an ongoing project: it hasn’t saved us yet. Continue reading The Future of Existential Psychology: Was Nietzsche Right?

Getting Lost in the Fog of War

One of the key tenants of Existentialism – and one of the key lessons of life – is that you have to accept the consequences of your actions.

Ducking responsibility can only last so long, and inevitably makes things worse. Even if you “get away” with it socially you’re scarred by it psychologically, living with a sense of false consciousness about who you are and your impact on the world.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan – the longest war in U.S. history – it seems like most Americans are trying not to think about consequences.

America is involved in three major theaters of wars right now, but has yet to raise taxes to pay for military action. It has thousands of wounded veterans returning home, but is trying to skimp on rehabilitative care.

No wonder that, according to recent surveys by the Pew Research Center, half of Americans say the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have little impact on their lives.

Imagine what it is to be fighting three wars, and not notice. What a thing. Continue reading Getting Lost in the Fog of War

Third world call centers are a peek into the future of depression

A must-read article at Mother Jones describes the existential condition of the new global workers: college educated Indian call center employees.

Never before in history have people lived and worked the way they do. Because call center companies don’t trust India’s infrastructure, they operate in walled cities of their own (“cities made by corporations, for corporations,” the article calls them). Their employees leave not just their homes when they go to work, but their entire country. They are forbidden to leave until their shifts are over.

If they’re in a geographic bubble, they’re also in a temporal one: because they’re supposed to be working in the time zone foreign cultures, they frequently work night and graveyard shifts, further isolating them from the place and culture they actually live in. Continue reading Third world call centers are a peek into the future of depression