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Existential Vulnerability: Toward a Psychopathology of Limit Situation



Jaspers' concept of limit situations seems particularly appropriate not only to elucidate outstanding existential situations in general, but also basic preconditions for the occurrence of mental disorders. For this purpose, the concept is first explained in Jaspers' sense and then related to an 'existential vulnerability' of mentally ill persons that makes them experience even inconspicuous events as distressing limit situations. In such situations, an otherwise hidden fundamental condition of existence becomes manifest for them, e.g. the fragility of one's own body, the inevitability of freedom, or the finiteness of life. This fundamental condition is found unbearable and, as a reaction, gives rise to mental illness. This concept of existential vulnerability is illustrated by some psychopathological examples. © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.
DOI: 10.1159/000351838
Existential Vulnerability: Toward a
Psychopathology of Limit Situations
Thomas Fuchs
Psychiatrische Klinik, Ruprecht-Karls Universität, Heidelberg , Germany
directly given; it can only be conceptually paraphrased [ 1 ,
p. 15]. According Jaspers, however, ‘limit situations’ rep-
resent the pronounced possibility of becoming aware of
one’s Existenz ; indeed, he writes: ‘Experiencing limit situ-
ations and Existing
are the same’ [ 1 , p. 204].
In light of the central position given to the concept of
limit situation for the Jaspersian project of the illumina-
tion of Existenz (Existenzerhellung), it is surprising to find
that limit situations play only a minor role in Jaspers’ psy-
chopathology. Granted, Jaspers indicates that neurosis is
in principle understandable as a condition representing a
failure in confronting limit situations; yet, he does not
explicate this in more detail [
2 , p. 275]. Psychosis in the
end does not even connect with the concept of limit situ-
ation at all, for the incomprehensibility of the disease, ac-
cording to Jaspers, denies access both genetically and ex-
istentially. The question to be posed, then, is whether the
psychopathological content of Jaspers’ concept of limit
situation has not remained untapped.
Key Words
Limit situation · Karl Jaspers · Vulnerability · Existence ·
Jaspers’ concept of limit situations seems particularly appro-
priate not only to elucidate outstanding existential situa-
tions in general, but also basic preconditions for the occur-
rence of mental disorders. For this purpose, the concept is
first explained in Jaspers’ sense and then related to an ‘exis-
tential vulnerability’ of mentally ill persons that makes them
experience even inconspicuous events as distressing limit
situations. In such situations, an otherwise hidden funda-
mental condition of existence becomes manifest for them,
e.g. the fragility of one’s own body, the inevitability of free-
dom, or the finiteness of life. This fundamental condition is
found unbearable and, as a reaction, gives rise to mental ill-
ness. This concept of existential vulnerability is illustrated by
some psychopathological examples.
© 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel
is, for Jaspers, the being of a person at the
limit. Therefore, Existenz itself does not belong to the
sphere of phenomena, i.e. to the sphere of that which is
Published online: July 11, 2013
Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Fuchs
Psychiatrische Klinik, Ruprecht-Karls Universität
Vossstrasse 4
DE–69115 Heidelberg (Germany)
E-Mail thomas.fuchs
© 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel
Translated by Alexander T. Englert.
Translator’s note: due to the importance and complexity of Jaspers’ con-
cept ‘Existenz’, I leave it untranslated and capitalized in the following to sig-
nify that it communicates a state of conscious being that transcends the basic
material, social, and even mental states of personal existence.
Translator’s note: here, ‘Existieren’ I translate as ‘Existing’ in order to
communicate that the experiencing of limit situations represents existing
with transcendent connotations, as opposed to basic existing, say, in states
of less heightened consciousness.
Translations of Jaspers’ are my own, unless otherwise noted (Transl.).
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Fundamentally, there are two conceivable possibilities
as to how mental illnesses can result from confrontations
with limit situations:
(1) Psychic traumata arise from experiences that con-
front one with the immediate threat of death or with a
severe injury to one’s physical and psychic integrity. The
experience of such radical exposure represents not only
an extreme situation, but also a limit situation in a Jasper-
sian sense. The fundamental imperilment of existence –
even when it is, as is normal, concealed behind the veil of
everydayness – becomes suddenly visible and leaves be-
hind persisting aftereffects, i.e. the traumatization.
(2) On the other hand, the threshold that separates every-
day experience from limit situations is capable of being
shifted in persons with mental illness. They are to some
extent especially sensitive regarding the existential impli-
cations of certain situations in life. As a result, even rela-
tively harmless and superficially insignificant events can
be experienced in a pathological manner as limit situa-
tions. In such cases, a truth about one’s Existenz enters
suddenly into consciousness – a truth that, more often
than not, is unbearable for those affected. Such limit situ-
ations – e.g. perhaps the unavoidability of guilt, the in-
exorability of being free, the frailty of one’s body, or the
finitude of one’s Dasein
– can instigate the development
of mental illnesses if they are not overcome in some way.
In the following, I want to explain the concept of limit
situation in its Jaspersian sense in order to examine more
closely if and to what extent it can be made fruitful for
psychopathology and psychotherapy.
Jaspers’ Concept of Limit Situation
The concept of limit situation is developed primarily
in The Psychology of Worldviews (Psychologie der Weltan-
schauungen) and in The Illumination of Existenz (Exis-
tenzerhellung) , which is the second volume of Jaspers’
Philosophy (Philosophie) . In later works, the concept of
‘basic situation’ (‘Grundsituation’) also comes to the fore;
this concept is not historically conditioned, rather it char-
acterizes human existence as it has always been, namely,
as a ‘rupture in being’, a searching for unity that is des-
tined to fail time and again [cf. especially
3 , pp. 703–709].
Basic situations denote the limits that are common for all
persons; the limits against which the supposed wholeness
and unity of Dasein crashes. To these belong especially
the following situations: having to die, having to suffer,
having to fight, being at the mercy of chance, and facing
the inevitability of guilt. These basic situations become
limit situations if they transform from simple generalities
into distressing experiences for the individual.
Consequently, Jaspers posits the precondition of limit
situations in the fundamental antinomical structure of
Dasein [
1 , p. 249], i.e. in those contradictions of life that
one cannot remove and can only speciously overcome,
and which in the end one must simply live with. Thus, the
primary basic situation consists in the fact ‘that I am as
Dasein always in a specific situation , rather than as the
totality of the possibilities’ [
1 , p. 209].
This is a necessary
determination, but it simultaneously represents a limita-
tion of my will. It pulls in tow the existential guilt of al-
ways falling short of one’s possibilities and of failing to
realize one’s possible Existenz . Yet unavoidable guilt also
results from the fact that everyone’s Dasein is struggle, i.e.
not only having to exist in connection with others, but
also having to do so in competition with them [
4 , p. 231].
The structure of our duties is antinomical since they nec-
essarily conflict with each other; antinomical is our will
itself in so far as it is connected in every act of volition
with a negated or a contrary volition, and, finally, even
our actions become antinomical in that the realization of
all that we strive for is connected with unintended results.
This means, ‘we ourselves and the world are antinomi-
cally divided’ [
4 , p. 230f]. These contradictions are fun-
damentally impossible to overcome:
The opposites belong to each other, so that I cannot get rid of
the one side, which I fight and would like to remove, without los-
ing the whole polarity and, thus, that which I in reality want [
4 ,
p. 250].
Through limit situations, the antinomical, basic struc-
ture of Dasein comes to light. In this respect, they have an
‘uncovering’ (Freilegung) nature. ‘In every limit situation,
the rug is so to speak yanked from under my feet’ [
4 , p.
249]; something is also broken, which Jaspers calls ‘hous-
ing’ (Gehäuse) .
Such housing is a consolidated structure
of thought and a fundamental attitude, which offers pro-
tection from the limit and security with regards to exis-
tential questioning. In fact, such housing is to a certain
degree necessary in so far as it – as a commonsensical,
Translator’s note: the bane of any translator of German philosophy is the
concept of ‘Dasein’. In the following, I leave it in its unadulterated German
form since no English word can take its place.
Translator’s note: All translations of cited authors are my own.
Translator’s note: ‘Gehäuse’ I translate as ‘housing’. It could, however,
also be translated as ‘encasement’, ‘shell’, ‘cocoon’, etc., for it represents a
self-protecting structure, which can also restrict one’s development. ‘Hous-
ing’, however, is neutral in connotation but can also be understood as restric-
tive, inclusive, and can be intended as a buffer between oneself and the world.
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Existential Vulnerability
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unquestioned basic assumption – is a part of the commu-
nal, culturally specific lifeworld. Simultaneously, it offers
in the end false feelings of stability, safety, or self-esteem,
and hides the antinomies of Dasein by constructing con-
ceptions of the world that harmonize. The paradigmatic
characteristic of a limit situation is simply the crumbling
of this system that offers a false sense of security: the ex-
istential limit is experienced when the ‘housing’ breaks;
in other words, one’s plan for how life should be fails ut-
terly, or at least does so in some key aspect:
The conscious experience of the limit situation, which was pre-
viously concealed by the secure housing in the objective, common-
sensical forms of life, conceptions of reality, ideas of belief, as well
as the motion of reflection, of the dialectic let a process begin,
which brings the hitherto and taken-for-granted housing to dis-
solution. [...] [N]ow, it becomes more or less clear what the hous-
ing is, and this is experienced as attachment, limitation, or as
doubtful, without possessing the strength for offering a sturdy
foundation [
4 , p. 281].
Limit situations, Jaspers states in The Illumination of
Existenz , ‘are not overseeable; in our Dasein, we cannot
see anything more beyond them. They are like a wall that
we run up against, against which we fail. Through us they
cannot be changed, rather we can only bring them to light
without the ability to explain or to deduce them from any-
thing else. They are with Dasein itself’ [
1 , p. 203]. Because
the (until now valid) frames of interpretation, even the
foundational and order-sustaining structure of life itself,
are put into question in limit situations, they hinder fore-
sight and calculability. We are also unable to overcome
them via rational strategies, rather only ‘... through a to-
tally other activity, the becoming of the possible Existenz
in ourselves ; we become ourselves, in that we enter the
limit situation with open eyes’ [
1 , p. 204]. In them ‘... self-
hood (Selbstsein) [can] become aware of being through a
leap : the consciousness, which otherwise just knows
about limit situations, becomes fulfilled in a singular, his-
torical, and irreplaceable manner’ [
1 , p. 204]. With this
leap, an entirely new temporality opens: ‘The leap to Ex-
istenz is not like the growth of a life form, which accom-
plishes the pertinent steps at its own pace as a matter of
reflex according to researchable laws’ [
1 , p. 207]. The con-
tinuity of one’s charted and planned life until this point is
interrupted. However, this creates suddenly the opportu-
nity for freedom, namely, freedom to enter the limit situ-
ation, to grapple with it, and thereby simultaneously to
gain support for the ‘upswing’ (Aufschwung) into one’s
Existenz .
This existential leap is admittedly just one possibility,
for limit situations ‘as such are unbearable for life’ [
4 ,
p. 229]. The person always stands before a choice to either
accept the opportunity or to try and avoid it, whether it is
through denial, rationalization, generalization, or repres-
sion. Jaspers warns therefore against every overhasty at-
tempt in trying to make the limit situation vanish; its de-
mand lies in the withstanding of the antinomical pres-
sure. At the same time, however, the acceptance and the
withstanding of a limit situation can lead to paralysis,
which can block responsible action if an existential deci-
sion, i.e. a ‘seizing of Existenz ’, fails. In it a person decides
for a path of action or of life in the consciousness that
other possibilities of his will not be realized as a result,
also in the consciousness of one’s possible responsibility
for unavoidable guilt [
1 , p. 196]. Because this decision
does not follow rational arguments alone, it also cannot
be transferred to others or substituted through others.
Limit Situation and Psychopathology
So much for an outline of Jaspers’ conception of limit
situation. Of what importance can it be for psychopathol-
ogy? Jaspers’ conception aims initially at the rather lone-
ly heights of the existential decision, for which the limit
situation represents the abutment, so to speak, by which
Existenz comes to itself. This is indeed also possible as a
reaction to an intense psychic crisis; however, it certainly
does not characterize psychopathological states in a strict
sense. Nevertheless, I want to work out from the thesis
that mental illnesses are connected with limit situations
in the following manner: the deep felt impact that ‘yanks
the carpet away from under one’s feet’ and that breaks
down the ‘housing’ around one’s life plan can also shake
the foundations of one’s mental constitution to the extent
that mental illnesses may result – especially when the lim-
it situation as such remains uncomprehended and does
not allow the person concerned any distance and free-
dom. In the following, I want to test the scope of this the-
Trauma as a Limit Situation
Let us begin with limit situations that manifest them-
selves in trauma – namely, as the immediate threat of
death or injuries to one’s physical and mental integrity.
Trauma represents an occurrence that refuses its appro-
priation, its symbolization, and its integration into a
meaningful context. The person concerned is not in a po-
sition to respond to the happening, and his being over-
whelmed expresses itself in emotional paralysis, shock,
and stupor. The lasting effect of trauma proceeds, how-
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ever, not only from an immediate threat, rather also and
above all from the interruption of the implicit, basic as-
sumption of the ‘and-so-on’ [persistence of life]. As Hus-
serl [ 5 , p. 51] puts it, the ‘and-so-on’ is the silent expecta-
tion that one’s lifeworld will remain constant and reliable
in its familiarity and coherence. Traumatizing is that
which surprises me completely and which ‘makes me lose
my composure’ because it disappoints my expectations
and forestalls my precautions [cf.
6 , p. 326]. A ‘housing’
is broken here as well, namely the housing of everyday-
ness and its lifeworldly basic assumptions. In the world,
a fissure has opened, and from inside the real possibility
of violence, abandonment, and death has peeked out.
The loss of coherence continues on beyond the acute
occurrence. The trauma becomes a singularity; it produc-
es a radical discontinuity of the inner life story, i.e. of the
subjectivity construed as a narrative. The latent feeling
remains of being in a defenseless state of exposure, an at-
mospherically sensible threat. The penetration of the for-
eign into one’s own body, the experience of helplessness
and being at the mercy of something can irreversibly
shake one’s basic trust in the world to its core. Thus, Jean
Améry writes that it is no longer possible for the survivors
of torture to ever feel at home, secure, and familiar any-
where [
7 , p. 58]. Trauma puts the person concerned be-
fore his bare Existenz; however, it withholds from him the
freedom to enter the limit situation, not to mention the
freedom to position himself accordingly in response to it.
The coherence of the ‘housing’ breaks down, but this does
not allow a leap to a new level of one’s selfhood (Selbst-
sein) . Instead, the victim remains marked by the limit sit-
uation to which he was exposed – neither in the position
to forget or to suppress what has happened, nor capable
of using it to win freedom in the face of his own fears. The
limit situation of trauma remains a foreign presence in
life, which cannot be integrated.
Vulnerability for Limit Situations
While in cases of trauma it is the suddenness, brutality,
and intensity of the limit situation that leads to the col-
lapse of one’s mental framework, for other mental distur-
bances limit situations often have a subtler role to play.
They enter the perspective of the persons affected without
being necessarily recognizable to others; this means that
they presuppose a certain sensitivity or disposition, in
contrast to traumatic limit situations that can affect, in
principle, everyone. As a thesis, I would formulate it as
follows: persons with predispositions for becoming men-
tally ill carry with them an ‘existential vulnerability’, a
heightened sensitivity or fragility, which allows them to
experience seemingly insignificant events as limit situa-
tions. In such situations, an existentially basic condition,
which is otherwise kept concealed, becomes for them un-
deniable – e.g. the fact that becoming guilty is unavoid-
able; the inescapability of freedom; the frailty of one’s
own body; the ‘mineness’, the nonsubstitutability, and
thus, finally, the loneliness of one’s Dasein , and, lastly,
one’s inexorable finitude. This confrontation with the ba-
sic conditions of existence is unbearable for those affected
and leads to the manifestation of mental illnesses should
the situation not be overcome by other means.
The vulnerability is by no means to be understood only
as an objective (e.g. genetic, constitutional, or physiolog-
ical) variable of personality, rather it is also subjectively
experienced as a foundational, ‘ontological’ uncertainty
and confusion. Therefore, existentially vulnerable per-
sons establish themselves in a housing of defense strate-
gies, precautions, and safeguards in order to escape con-
frontation with limit situations along with their ontolog-
ical implications – i.e. isolation, guilt, finitude, and death.
The housing protects them against the fear that would
grab them in relation to the limit situations of life. Alas,
the walls of this housing are thin: the patients remain hy-
persensitive or vulnerable regarding the existential impli-
cations of certain life situations during which, as it were,
ruptures in the housing open up and behind which the
basic facts of existence are recognizable.
Vulnerability with Regards to One’s Body
As an example for this conception, I would like firstly
to take into consideration the vulnerability of a hypo-
chondriac. It consists in a particular sensitivity for one’s
susceptibility to disease, proneness to injury, and frailty
of body. Thus, to some extent I can comprehend recur-
ring headaches as a troubling but everyday occurrence,
which to prevent and to remedy call for certain practical
measures. I can, however, also on the occasion of my
headaches become aware of the unsettling fact that I re-
main irreversibly dependent on my own body – that I am
at the mercy of its hidden processes, its autonomous ac-
tivity, without being able to fully fathom or control them.
I can realize that, being embodied, I am fundamentally
susceptible to disease and prone to injury, indeed am
mortal, so that every pain already intimates principally
the possibility of death. By this, the primarily everyday,
A. Holzhey-Kunz [11] , speaking from a Daseinsanalytic perspective,
talks of a special ‘alertness’ for the ‘ontological implications’ of certain situ-
ations; to these thoughts I owe thanks for significant inspiration, which led
to the considerations that follow.
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banal phenomenon receives a precipitous, dizzying
meaning. The headache refers to the breakability of my
bodily existence and to the uncertainty as to when and in
which way death will come knocking for me [8] . In this
way, the occurrence of headaches turns into a limit situ-
How does the hypochondriac react to this situation? In
the same way that he is sensitive about the ontologically
given proneness to injury of his bodily existence, so too is
this knowledge unbearable for him. He tries, therefore, to
banish the permanently present sense of danger from dis-
ease and death via the anxious monitoring of every bodi-
ly event. He insists on the goal of having complete control
over his body through constant preventative measures
against every assault of disturbance and disease. Medicine
and medical doctors are to reseal the tear that opened in
his Dasein , as though the foundational fact of susceptibil-
ity and mortality of the body could be resolved through
vigilant observation, investigation, and forced rituals of
self-control and diet. The neurosis of hypochondria be-
comes often a lifelong struggle against the basic condi-
tions of Dasein , which are neither accepted nor negated.
Yet at the same time, acute mental illnesses can repre-
sent reactions to the existential implications of a physical
disturbance. As an example, I offer a case history:
A 64-year-old patient fell ill to a deep, delusional depression
half a year after his retirement. Already the end of his career had
caused him much discomfort and trouble. The triggering event of
the depression was the extraction of three teeth and the fitting of a
poorly positioned prosthetic tooth. The patient grew up in a fam-
ily of moderate means in which sickliness remained prevalent; he
reported about them somewhat contemptuously. He himself had
worked his way up the ladder to becoming a human resources
manager for a large company through very hard work and the ut-
most ambition. His wife reported that the job always came first for
him, which brought about much suffering for his family and mar-
riage. Over the course of 45 years on the job, he took only 10 sick
days. The depression was distinguished by a feeling of collapse. All
his strength, according to the patient himself, was gone; his arms
and legs would no longer obey him. He had burned the candle at
both ends, had failed to take care of his family, and was now paying
the price for it. Life was over for him. In due course, delusional
ideas developed: drops of sweat signaling his death ran down his
forehead; one could already see livor mortis discoloring his face.
‘One should move him to a basement morgue and leave him there.’
The patient’s life plan was characterized by a rigid ori-
entation towards achievements at the cost of interperson-
al relationships. Retirement, however, ended his lifelong-
pursued ascending motion, and the removal of the teeth
brought with it suddenly the consciousness about the
frailty of his existence, which he had always repressed and
despised. The persistently denied, but latently feared,
took its toll on the patient, who had never dealt with these
feelings and who now had nothing with which he could
block them out. The fall into depression was a response
to an experience, in which the housing (maintained until
that point) turned out to be an illusion. The patient could
not accept the limit situation coming to light – he could
not continue on living life under its conditions. The de-
pressive delusion appeared against this backdrop as over-
powering via the dark side of his own Dasein : aging and
disease, guilt and neglect, death.
In passing let it be briefly mentioned that one’s own
embodiment can become a limit situation in very differ-
ent ways. For example, anorexia with young women can
be conceived of as a denial in relation to the basic condi-
tion of one’s dependency on a material, impulsive, and
uncontrollable body. That I cannot be the ‘totality of the
possibilities’, but rather am forced into a determined gen-
der role by my own body; that I am not free when it comes
to the answering of the needs of my own body; that I can
contrast myself with my body but, nevertheless, remain
inextricably connected to it – this dichotomy, based on
the ambiguity of the body, becomes an unbearable limit
situation for women with anorexia, which they try to
counter by striving for ‘dis-embodiment’. While for per-
sons with hypochondria the primary affect consists in
fear and concern for the body, for persons with anorexia
it is rather the repelling affect of disgust , which is ex-
pressed by the basic condition of one’s dependency on the
body and which results above all from attention to its ma-
teriality including its nourishment.
Vulnerability with Regards to Freedom and Guilt
I transition now to a further type of existential vulner-
ability that corresponds to the basic situations of freedom
and guilt.
Let us consider, then, an everyday situation: I
have to make the decision as to whether I undertake a hike
in the mountains in the last, beautiful days of autumn, or
whether I go to a meeting, which I planned quite a while
back with someone else. The consideration of the two
possibilities, their pros and cons, will lead normally to a
decision after some further thought. Yet the situation can
be experienced also in a more fundamental, unsettling
manner. To begin, it can make me painfully aware of the
basic fact that only one possibility can be realized, and
that others must be foregone. No consideration, no mat-
ter how long, can prevent the possibility that I will be dis-
Again, I owe thanks to the analysis of Holzhey-Kunz [ 13 , p. 183ff] for
valuable inspiration that led to these interpretations.
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appointed by the decision because things progress other
than planned, e.g. the hike could end in bad weather or
the meeting could turn into a very boring rendezvous. In
the end, it may become evident that just as is the case for
these last days of autumn, so too there is a last time for
everything. If I decide to actually go to the meeting, then
I might be able to take the hike next year; I might, how-
ever, never be able to do so again. Everything has its time.
If the opportunity for something passes by, it may never
return. And finally, just as I have to decide, so too will I
be in every situation in a certain sense guilty, whether that
means guilty for refusing the possibility of a pleasurable
experience, or guilty for cancelling a meeting that upsets
another person. If I then come to realize that there are no
ultimate moral rules, no absolute points of reference for
right and wrong, then the bottomless nature of my own
Existenz may reveal itself.
This thought process has turned the harmless decision
into a limit situation. The transition from the abundance
of possibilities to the determination and singularity of re-
ality turns into an unbearable limitation, indeed an expe-
rience of guilt and of failure. In the case of such an ex-
treme sensitivity for situations having to do with deci-
sions, which is exhibited to some degree by anankastic
and perfectionistic persons, clearly every decision, espe-
cially when of life-changing import, has to become a seri-
ous problem. Consideration becomes endless; the spon-
taneity and the security of the decision go missing, even
if the decision is eventually made. The fear of decisions
and their consequences settle more and more into one’s
life. A further case history will help illustrate this situa-
A 33-year-old dentistry student is seeking psychotherapeutic
care because his final examinations are imminent and he is no lon-
ger capable of preparing himself with full concentration. Through
dialogue, it becomes clear that he has been suffering for years from
a compulsive disorder, which extends from constant brooding
over compulsive thoughts to compulsive controlling. Again and
again, he must think through whether he reached the right deci-
sion a few days back; most of the time, he regrets his decisions and
criticizes himself for them. Ideally, he would take back every deci-
sion made, even those that cannot necessarily be considered wrong
or harmful. In the meantime, this has made even the act of shop-
ping an agony, for he sometimes spends hours going back and
forth between the varying products. Even if he finalizes his choice,
he will brood in the days to come over whether he should have ac-
tually bought another article instead: ‘I always think that I’m on
the wrong track, and I want to go back to the decisive moment ...
I cannot accept that, yet again, so much time has passed since then,
and fall regularly into a state of anguish because of this.’ Recently,
he has been gripped more and more by panic because many diffi-
cult decisions wait for him in connection with the finishing of his
The patient cannot handle the uncertainty and simul-
taneous finality that comes with every decision. He wants
to stop time and make it so that nothing happens; this is
not because he despairs about some decision, but rather
because of the fact that one possibility must become per-
manently realized at all . The finishing of his degree be-
comes a limit situation; the new realm of possibilities that
would be opened by it leads the patient to fear the abun-
dance of possibilities along with the new and painful deci-
sions or commitments, instead of leading him to feel free.
Thus, it triggers in a way an existential agoraphobia or
fear of too many options (Weiteangst) .
Even independent of such compulsive-neurotic per-
sonality traits, the antinomical fact that the realization of
freedom can only occur by paying the price of limiting
one’s possibilities may lead to a profound fear of decisions
and bonds. This may result in a foundational neurotic at-
titude, which Jaspers described as follows [
9 , pp. 316,
An escape route is searched for: In the actualizing [of some-
thing] no possibility should be lost. Therefore, the actualization
transpires along with the internal condition that nothing final be
reached, rather that in the actualization the reality be negated. It
should only be an attempt that one can call off. Life becomes trial
and change. Self-identification in the hazarding of a ‘for good and
all’ decision is opposed, for every limit is experienced as a prison.
[...] The will to perpetuating the infinite possibilities rejects its
commitment to reality. [...] The momentary actualization remains
unserious, because of the reservation of switching again away in
favor of another. The nonbinding participation without real actu-
alization cements life in indecision, in which everything touched
is betrayed, in which fickleness becomes principle.
Jaspers is describing here a ‘neurotic tentativeness’ or
‘inauthenticity’, which is by no means a rare lifestyle since
we find it, for example, with narcissistic personalities. It
corresponds often with the personality type of ‘puer aeter-
nus’, or the eternal youth, who stays in a state of noncom-
mitment regarding his relationships and decisions in or-
der to escape in this manner the frightening basic situa-
tion of the increasing limitation of possibilities. Here,
there is thus no rigid housing preventing confrontations
with existential truths, rather actually quite the opposite,
i.e. the avoidance of every commitment.
We find, by contrast, a housing that serves the avoid-
ance of limit situations dealing with freedom in person-
alities that tend towards severe depression, and whose
structure Tellenbach
[10] described as ‘typus melanchol-
icus’. Such persons are characterized by persnickety or-
derliness, selfless fulfillment of duties, a rigid orientation
towards external norms, and close, often symbiotic rela-
tionships to their nearest significant other. From an exis-
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Existential Vulnerability
DOI: 10.1159/000351838
tential point of view, this rigid structure serves in the end
the avoidance of existential angst. The moral, irreproach-
able behavior, the yearning to hold oneself in the bound-
aries of the established order, has the deeper sense of pro-
tecting one against experiencing the inevitable ‘mineness’
of one’s existence. That is to say, it protects against the
isolation caused by freedom, indeed against the bottom-
lessness of one’s own existence. The constant care for oth-
ers should neutralize one’s guilt, which, according to Jas-
pers and Heidegger, is itself given with existence. Our life
progresses constantly at the cost of others; every decision
also brings with it the guilt for rejected possibilities; even
our Dasein itself is not a justified part of the world, it is
‘guilty’ as such. With patients belonging to typus melan-
cholicus, due to their vulnerability for conditions of exis-
tence, dilemmas surrounding decisions can result in
acute depressive illnesses.
A 55-year-old woman fell ill in the following manner: she tor-
tured herself long and hard with the decision of whether she should
sell her house, which had become too large for her after the death
of her husband, in order to move into a smaller apartment. Influ-
enced by advice from friends and family, she sold her house in the
end. However, afterwards she soon experienced a serious crisis in
which she bitterly regretted her decision, criticized herself intense-
ly, and finally fell into a deep depression. While afflicted, she com-
plained relentlessly about her wrong decision; she had suffered a
significant financial loss, hurt her children beyond repair, and was
incapable of completing the move. After the amelioration of the
acute illness through further therapy, it came to light that above all
two aspects of the decision were particularly unbearable for the
patient: first, its irreversibility, which was connected with the ulti-
mate acceptance of the death of her husband, with whom she had
lived in the house for over 20 years; second, it was the first time
that she had made a life-changing decision without her husband,
which revealed her loneliness and, lastly, her unavoidable person-
al responsibility.
As is typical of typus melancholicus, the patient was
sensitive in a special way: she was vulnerable to the irre-
versibility, the personal responsibility, and the loneliness
tied up with the decision. Certainly, a limit situation is not
always to blame for all everyday instances of indecisive-
ness or of a weakness in making decisions of the persons
concerned. Yet, if a serious mental illness results from it,
then it is highly likely that it has to do with more than just
the respective conflict, namely, with its existential impli-
For the typus melancholicus patient, the loneliness
and the guilt of decisions represent a fundamental disap-
pointment, in that his housing that has been attentively
sustained until now is revealed to be an illusion. Despite
all precautions, he cannot escape the burden of living his
own life alone and unsecured, without any guarantees.
The descent into depression is a response to an experi-
ence in which the futility of all avoidance and all safe-
guarding strategies is revealed. Whatever stayed hidden
before in the housing of the typus melancholicus struc-
ture, is now lamented about in the depression in a hyper-
bolic manner [
11 , p. 194]: in place of the rigid precautions
for avoidance of guilt arises the patient’s excessive self-
accusation for being irreversibly guilty; in place of symbi-
otic-altruistic relations with others arises the complaint
about his own intractable loneliness, and in place of the
selfless sacrifice for the well-being of others arises the
complaint that he is of no more use and, therefore, com-
pletely worthless.
Persons with sensitivity for existential basic situations
can be faced with fundamental and unsettling questions
due to the seemingly most trivial events. Can I depend on
the intransparent functioning of my body? How should I
know what my place in the world is? Can I live with the
guilt of always living at the expense of others? Can I en-
dure the wasting of myriad possibilities since I can only
live this one life and must do so without any instance of
authoritative guidance instructing me as to how I should
live? Why must I live under these conditions? Do I want
to even engage in this world with its contradictions and
with its inevitable destination being death?
Clearly, it is not primarily philosophical consider-
ations that bring about such questions, and not even re-
flection as such. In most cases, the patients would not be
capable of formulating these questions explicitly at all. It
is rather fundamental affects and dispositions that arise
out of confusing situations and that already contain these
questions prereflectively, which lead to their being posed:
angst, feelings of guilt, shame, nausea, emptiness, bore-
dom, or feelings of foreignness. The existentially vulner-
able person senses the vast depth of these affects and dis-
positions more than others and tries to escape the exis-
tential agitation caused by them through a housing of
everyday precautions and avoidances. Yet, the housing
only provides an apparent security; indeed, as far as it
weakens his ‘existential resilience’, he is even more help-
lessly exposed to the occurrence of limit situations.
I have offered some examples of such vulnerability: a
hypochondriac’s sensitivity to the perils of bodily exis-
tence; an anorexic’s sensitivity regarding the dependency
on a material body; a compulsive neurotic’s or depres-
sive’s vulnerability in relation to freedom and guilt,
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DOI: 10.1159/000351838
which above all can turn situations involving decisions
into limit situations, and a narcissist’s vulnerability to the
limitation of possibilities. Finally and independent of any
individual susceptibility, trauma (as a life-threatening
danger) represents the limit situation of existential im-
These examples may be adequate for indicating that a
‘psychopathology of limit situations’ can really be devel-
oped. One could counter that the situations remain un-
comprehended by the patient and, thus, only implicitly
existential in nature, thereby failing to fulfill the Jasper-
sian demand of a limit situation offering the revealment
of the human basic situation, and even less so of offering
the possibility for the ‘seizing of Existenz ’. In order to
know, accept, and overcome limit situations as such, a
minimum standard of stability, courage, and reflective
capacity is required – in short: a ‘competency for limit
situations’, as Kaegi
[12] put it. Nevertheless, it seems to
me that the task of a psychiatrist or psychotherapist
should include gaining such a competency (at least, in his
understanding) in order to help the patient recognize the
existential implications of his crisis and, thereby, under-
stand them not only as a self-caused misfortune, but also
as an expression of human existence in general, in which
we all participate and through which we all suffer. This
support can then wake in him the strength to bear the
situation and to cope with it, even if he cannot use it as a
‘leap to freedom’.
I would like to thank Alexander Englert for translating the orig-
inal manuscript.
1 Jaspers K: Philosophie II, Existenzerhellung,
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3 Jaspers K: Von der Wahrheit. München, Pi-
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sichts der Offenbarung, dritte Auflage.
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schichte, Endogenität, Typologie, Pathoge-
nese, Klinik, vierte Auflage. Berlin, Springer,
11 Holzhey-Kunz A: Leiden am Dasein. Die Da-
seinsanalyse und die Aufgabe einer Herme-
neutik psychopathologischer Phänomene.
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Über die Bedingungen analytischer Psycho-
therapie. Wien, Passagen, 2002.
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... "Ние живеем посредством тъмнотата на едно минало, което никога не може да се актуализира напълно, двусмислено бъдеще и сигурна смърт" (Walters, 1988a, p (Latzel, 1957;Wallraff, 1970, pp. 141-166), marginal situations (Jaspers, 1913(Jaspers, /1997, limit situations (Fuchs, 2013), concrete situations (Ara, 1998) и borderline situations (Salamun, 2006;Kick, 2015Kick, /2020. 30 Понятието "гранична ситуация", според M. Grene, е повлияно при създаването си от големия труд "Обща психопатология" (1913 г.) на Ясперс и представлява сбор от понятия, водещи началото си от психопатология" (1913 г.), "Психология на светогледите" (1919 г.), "Духовната ситуация на времето" (1931 г.), "Философия" (1932 г.), "Философска логика" (1947 г.) и "Въведение във философията" (1950 г.). ...
... Kick, 2015вж. Kick, /2020, най-вероятно у уязвими личности (Fuchs, 2013). ...
... Съзнанието на психично болните Ясперс считал за "почисто и по-искрено", а самите пациенти били способни да достигнат чиста интроспекция или, казано на езика на феноменологията, "чист поток от преживявания" (Jaspers, 1959(Jaspers, /1997. Именно поради това, психично болните са уязвими към преживяването на гранични ситуации (Fuchs, 2013). Те са носители на "снижена компетенция за гранични ситуации" (Fuchs, цитиран в: Mundt, 2014, p. 173). ...
Настоящият труд включва философско и научно изследване на креативността във феномена „гранична ситуация“, както е развит във философията на Карл Ясперс. Трудът е разделен на три части: 1) Въведение във философията на Карл Ясперс и концепцията за „гранична ситуация“, 2) Описание на функциите на психо-соматичния комплекс в норма и патология и техните отношения към философията и философското съзнание и 3) Изследване на креативността преди, по време и след преживяванията на гранични ситуации. Първата част е историко-философска. Втората – научна, а третата е синтез между първите две, като двете линии – философската и научната – са развити паралелно. Използваните методи са: историко-философски анализ, сравнителен анализ, концептуален анализ. Излагат се редица подстъпи към едно сериозно изследване на граничните ситуации и на ролята на креативността по отношение на методите за тяхното превъзмогване. Включени са редица изследвания в рамките на конкретни области от познанието, свързани с ядрената тематика труда, като: понятието „креативност“, епилепсията на Достоевски, животът на Е. Сведенборг, фармакометафизиката, депресивно-песимистичния реализъм, психичните защити по А. и З. Фройд, понятието „Аз“, логотерапията на В. Франкъл, психозомиметиците и др. Фокусът е върху способите за превъзмогване на граничните ситуации, в частност каква роля играе креативността при тях. Предлага се богата съвкупност от перспективи за бъдещи изследвания в горепосочените области и проблемни точки. Глава 1: Понятието „гранична ситуация“ в екзистенциалната философия на Карл Ясперс В тази глава се анализира понятието „гранична ситуация“ в рамките на философията на Карл Ясперс или т. нар. Existenzphilosophie. Става въпрос не за вид екзистенциална философия, а за философия на Existenz. Разгледани са в детайли основните понятия на Existenzphilosophie, а именно: Всеобхватно, Existenz, Transcendenz, Разум, Операцията „трансцендиране“, Крушение и Философска вяра. Понятието „гранична ситуация“ е дискутирано, от тази перспектива, в следните главни точки: Същност, Кой попада в гранична ситуация?, Методи за превъзмогване (вж. Глава 3), Гранични ситуации и психопатология, Видове гранични ситуации и Навлизане в гранични ситуации. Разгледано е и понятието „мистично преживяване“ в рамките на Ясперсовата Existenzphilosophie. Приведени са голямо количество цитати от основните трудове на Ясперс (от преводите от немски на английски език), които не са преведени на български език и които сами по себе си представляват една миниатюрна антология на Ясперсовата Existenzphilosophie. Глава 2: Науката на психо-соматичния комплекс срещу философското съзнание В тази глава изложението включва главно дискусията на научни понятия и концепции, но са дадени и редица философски такива. Ясперс е считал, че за философстващия са от ключово значение наличните обширни научни познания. Това е така поради факта, че самата Existenzphilosophie или философската светова ориентация, така да се каже, надгражда научния светоглед или т. нар. от Ясперс научна светова ориентация. Поради този факт, главата започва с дискусия върху отношението, взаимовръзката и взаимоотношението между науката и философията. След това в детайли е анализирано понятието „съзнание“, както от научна, така и от философска перспектива. На читателя се предоставя и кратка научна дискусия върху функционалността на човешкото съзнание и човешката психика в норма и в патология; тук е включено и изложение върху т. нар. механизми за психична защита по А. и З. Фройд. Главата завършва с кратко изложение на главните постановки в когнитивната наука, вкл. и афективната наука: възприятие, познание, емоции и деятелност. Включено е и изложение, което представлява кратко въведение в основите на функционалната невроанатомия, както и основните принципи на невро- и психофармакологията. Емоционалността или афективността е разгледана и от философска перспектива в лицето на т. нар. екзистенциални чувства. Главата завършва с кратко, но богато изложение върху психологията и философията на креативността. Глава 3: Динамика на креативността във феномена „гранична ситуация“ Тази глава се базира на Глава 1 и Глава 2, като представлява синтез между двете глави. Фокусът е върху динамиката на креативността, която се анализира в рамките на преживяванията на гранични ситуации. Приведен е списък с възможните методи за превъзмогване на граничните ситуации, който е далеч по-пълен от този, представен в съответната секция в Глава 1. Разгледан е случаят със SARS-CoV-2 като актуална световна гранична ситуация. Впоследствие се въвежда понятието „миниатюра на гранична ситуация“, което представлява смес между креативността като процес (и черта) и граничните ситуации – самата креативност се разглежда като миниатюра на гранична ситуация. Към всичко това, ние сме привели и следните дискусии (като вид практическо приложение на знанието за граничните ситуации): Логотерапията на Виктор Франкъл (и изобщо екзистенциалната психотерапия) като метод за превъзмогване на граничните ситуации, Феноменология на психеделичното състояние (като метод за превъзмогване на гранични ситуации и като метод за индуциране на гранични ситуации, респ. мистични преживявания), Видовете светогледи и граничните ситуации – в частност т. нар. от нас Депресивно-песимистичен реализъм, Философията на човешкото когнитивно фармакологично подобрение – Фармакометафизика и граничните ситуации, Екстазната аура като мистично преживяване при епилепсията на Достоевски и граничните ситуации (вж. секцията за мистичното преживяване в Глава 1), Метафизиката на душата като парафрения на психиката – случаят на Емануел Сведенборг – граничните ситуации и обективацията на езика на Трансценденцията.
... Systemic media exploit these stories unlimitedly. 17 Still, there are also stories that are censored by systemic media yet emerge in other sources, or in daily communication, and concern the opposite: one's inhabiting the limit because of exhorting a relative to get vaccinated, a relative whose sudden death burdens the conscience of the vaccine proponent. Especially in countries where such cases are strikingly under-reported, any suspicion of the vaccine causing the death is sneered and the dead person's families do not even have the chance to learn what truly happened. ...
... We stand with eyes closed in front of the others' limit situation when our knowledge of the extent of human entanglement and its concatenated effects on collectivities is limited. 39 With a limit situation "a truth about one's Existenz enters suddenly into consciousness -a truth that, more often than not, is unbearable for those affected" [17] (P. 2). ...
... 25 Just indicatively, one reason is the polemics against existential philosophy (and against existentialism) by rivals as diverse as the Frankfurt School and the poststructuralist camp.26 For instance,Fuchs, 2013 andMundt, 2014. ...
Full-text available
In this article, I critically discuss the politics of forced and mandatory vaccination that is being now promoted in certain countries as a means for overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic. I canvass my critique through Karl Jaspers' notion of a "limit situation" and through references to Ionesco's plays Rhinoceros and Jeux de Massacre both of which concern hygienic, existential and political dystopias. My aim is to explore and chastise the pandemic totalitarianisms that are now spreading in the world and revolve around the "vaccinated versus the unvaccinated" polarization.
... Through losing a significant other I am not only confronted with the existential facts of death, finitude and the vulnerability of embodied existence (Fuchs, 2013b) but I am equally confronted with an encompassing loss of the structure of my familiar and habituated lifeworld which may have relied on the deceased (Køster, 2020(Køster, , 2022Ratcliffe, 2022). ...
Full-text available
Since Erich Lindemann’s seminal work on “the symptomatology and management of acute grief” from 1944, it has been common to define grief through its particular emotional structure and dynamics. According to this perspective, grief announces itself in so-called “pangs of grief” in which the bereaved is occasionally flooded by waves of emotions. This picture has become so ingrained in our understanding of grief that it has defined both public discourse on grief and contemporary clinical constructs. In this paper, I propose that underneath grief’s fluctuating emotivity, there is a deeper feeling of grief. This deeper feeling reflects an altered mode of being in the world in which the bereaved experiences herself as “at a distance” from the worldly. I will refer to this state as world-distancing and emphasise it as a protective affective state that shields the bereaved from a limit situation in which the world has become overwhelming in the absence of the deceased. It is experienced as being in a bubble or as if enclosed in a kind of membrane that shields the bereaved from the intrusiveness and penetrating character of the world. World-distancing, however, comes with significant perils if the bereaved are unable to reattach to the world. I outline this danger as a state of existential loneliness that follows from what Eugené Minkowski termed a felt lack of vital contact with the world.
... In Fast's research, the non-verbal vocal work with the patients brings the perspective of vulnerability to the foreground (Fast, 2020). This versatile concept in psychiatric healthcare refers to psychic vulnerability, pointing to existential, environmental, and cultural aspects that threaten and frame an individual's mental health (Fuchs, 2013). In shared vocalising, Fast approaches vulnerability through relationships. ...
Full-text available
Background Arts-based practice and research in care has increased significantly. There is a need to examine the ethical issues arising from this complex phenomenon, conceptualised as boundary work. Method To support interdisciplinary understanding in artistic and arts-based work, we collaboratively explored three arts-based research projects implemented in diverse care and healthcare contexts. The ethical issues related to boundary work were negotiated through reciprocal, in-depth reflection. Results Arts-based and artistic research allows embodied, sensitive, and sensible encounters to emerge, in which the boundaries between artistic agency, professional positions, and even notions of evidence may be challenged. The notion of vulnerability emerges as a central ethical feature of boundary work. Conclusions Articulating ethical concerns in artistic-pedagogic boundary work and research can promote a more nuanced understanding of power relations in cross-sectoral practices. It may help develop services that support the agency and holistic well-being of individuals and communities.
... Thinking does not come about freely; rather, we fall or falter into the necessity of doing so. Grief, I would argue, can be observed as a "boundary situation" (Jaspers, 1932(Jaspers, /1970Fuchs, 2013), where one's relational nexus has collapsed and "I have the ground pulled from under my feet" (Jaspers 1970, p. 218). How we respond to a limit situation cannot, even in principle, be anticipated, but that we respond is a necessary feature of the homelessness that this situation entails: "The very need to ask about myself shows me that I have departed from my origin" (Jaspers, 1970, p. 26). ...
Full-text available
PhD Dissertation
... The results confirm this hypothesis. According to Fuchs (2013), individuals find themselves reflecting on their mortality in moments of danger, creating anxiety. As well, Tomaszek and Muchacka-Cymerman (2020) found a significant relationship between post-traumatic stress syndrome and existential anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. ...
Today, we witness the progress toward global COVID-19 vaccinations organized by countries worldwide. Experts say a mass vaccination plan is the only effective antidote against the spread of SARS-COV-2. However, a part of the world population refuses vaccination. The present study aimed to understand the impact of some individual variables on the intention to get vaccinated. Through a serial mediation model, we tested the influence of fear of COVID-19 on the intention to get vaccinated and the serial mediating effect of existential anxiety and conspiracy beliefs. Via a cross-sectional design this research was conducted with the participation of 223 French adults (Female: 69.5%; Male: 30.5%; Mage = 30.26, SD = 13.24; range: 18–75 years) who responded to an online survey. The results showed a positive relationship between fear of COVID-19 and intention to get vaccinated; however, when this fear was associated with high levels of existential anxiety through conspiracy beliefs, the intention to get vaccinated decreased. Our findings were in line with Terror Management Health Model, which states that, in facing health threats, humans may strive to reduce their own perceived vulnerability not only by engaging in healthy behaviors but also denying or avoiding death anxiety, as anti-vaxxers do.
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The paper argues that the dynamics of personal and collective individuation could be interrelated and bear ethical significance thanks to an analysis of the Lifeworld and intersubjectivity that link together the genetic and the generative perspectives of phenomenology. The first section of the paper recalls the epistemological and ontological implications of Husserl's and Stein's analysis of personal individuation in relation to what Husserl would call, later, the “Lifeworld” and the intersubjective constitution of communities. The second section of the paper turns to a phenomenology of the Lifeworld through an analysis of refugees' care and the intersubjective dynamics involved in the clinic of exile. Such an example will bring to light the importance of embodiment and intercorporeity to grasp the process through which the genetic constitution of the Lifeworld constitutes itself as a collective process of individuation trying to heal the scars of historicity. Consequently, individuation will appear as a personal and collective task, rather than a static and ego-centered achievement that would be forgetful of our fundamental interdependency. Finally, the last section argues that “healing the Lifeworld” does not amount to conceive of its “horizon” as being itself a predetermined “telos” of transcendental subjectivity, as if this open structure could be itself constituted. Rather, the varieties of the Lifeworld and its paradoxical movement of appropriation and differentiation point to a relational ontology that considers the becoming of a common and meaningful world as a limit-problem of phenomenology and, perhaps, its ethical and critical promise.
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Going beyond the scope of psychiatric diagnoses, this study introduces the concept of human vulnerability as a means of linking the phenomenological approach-focusing on the patient's experience-with psychotherapeutic treatment. To this end, it applies Karl Jaspers' concept of 'limit situation" to the existential vulnerability in the manifestation of mental illness and the ontological vulnerability in schizophrenia. From a psychological or empathic standpoint, vulnerability, as experienced in different cases of mental illness, refers to the condition of being confronted with disturbing meaningful social encounters with others. In these social encounters, existential meanings acquire disturbing qualities for a person's integrity, giving rise to various psychopathological phenomena. This study incorporates the practice of psychotherapy and empirical research to suggest that the experience of vulnerability is crucial not only in understanding the manifestation of mental illness but also a key element of phenomenological psychotherapeutic treatment, and it uses schizophrenia as an example.
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The aim of this work is to contribute to the ecological and phenomenological understanding of people with borderline personality disorder by analyzing the relation to the “limit situations”, a concept that was formulated one century ago by Karl Jaspers. This study makes it possible to go beyond the nosographic debate in which the pathological entity is often confined, by defining it as a disorder “situated” between neurosis and psychosis. The five limit-situations (which have been described by Gabriel Marcel in his introduction to Jaspers’ proposals) – namely, (1) historical situation, (2) love conflict, (3) suffering, (4) guilt, (5) and death – turn out to be crucial situations in which the limit-existence manifests itself in a specific way. In particular, we observe that the peculiarities of the experience characterizing the borderline individual’s limit situations rely on a temporality grounded on instantaneity and immediacy, and imply a specific relationship to others. Finally, the limit state seems to call into question this primordial tendency by suggesting that every man is bound to be part of time, to love, to feel guilty, to suffer and to flee this suffering, to die and to organize his life by considering such a condition of finitude.
The philosophical analysis of trauma has grown over the last ten years due to our need to elucidate the lived experience endured by an increasing number of human beings undergoing forced migration, abuses, war crimes, and traumatizing situations. The irreducibility of trauma renders the task of care ethics more and more difficult. Yet, this paper argues that a phenomenological analysis of the care relation with traumatized patients can help elucidate the inter-affective dynamics at stake in such encounters. First, I will analyze the phenomenon of compassion fatigue and show how it differs from “emotional contagion” and how it relates to empathy. Relying on phenomenological approaches to empathy, I will assess the kind of “affective sharing” entailed by compassion fatigue. In the second section, I will reframe this conception of empathy by uncovering the existential feeling of vulnerability and the pre-reflective bodily resonance that frames our encounter with others. In the final section, I will argue that vicarious traumatization could be overcome thanks to a “creative kind” of compassion which links the sense of self to the sense of agency, the act of caring with the quest for justice, in a constant effort to restore balance through affective sharing and mutual recognition.
Es ist philosophische Aufgabe gewesen, eine Weltanschaung zu­ gleich als wissenschaftliche Erkenntnis und als Lebenslehre zu ent­ wickeln. Die rationale Einsicht sollte der Halt sein. Statt dessen wird in diesem Buch der Versuch gemacht, nur zu verstehen, welche letzten Positionen die Seele einnimmt, welche Kräfte sie bewegen. Die faktische Weltanschauung dagegen bleibt Sache des Lebens. Statt einer Mitteilung dessen, worauf es im Leben ankomme, sollen nur Klärungen und Möglichkeiten als Mittel zur Selbstbesinnung gegeben werden. Wer direkte Antwort auf die Frage will, wie er leben solle, sucht sie in diesem Buche vergebens. Das Wesentliche, das in den konkreten Entscheidungen persönlichen Schicksals liegt, bleibt ver­ schlossen. Das Buch hat nur Sinn für Menschen, die beginnen, sich zu verwundern, auf sich selbst zu reflektieren, Fragwürdigkeiten des Daseins zu sehen, und auch nur Sinn für solche, die das Leben als persönliche, irrationale, durch nichts aufhebbare Verantwortung er­ fahren. Es appelliert an die freie Geistigkeit und Aktivität des Lebens durch Darbietung von Orientierungsmitteln, aber es versucht nicht, Leben zu schaffen und zu lehren. Heidelberg. Kar! Jaspers. VORWORT ZUR VIERTEN AUFLAGE. Dies Buch meiner Jugend aus der Zeit, als ich von der Psychiatrie her zum Philosophieren kam, aus der Zeit des ersten Weltkriegs und der Er­ schütterung unserer überlieferung, ist das Ergebnis der Selbstbesinnung jener Tage. Es erscheint jetzt, nachdem es fast zwei Jahrzehnte vergriffen war, unverändert in neuer Auflage.
Formen neurotischer Todesverleugnung
  • T Fuchs
  • Leiden An
  • Sterblichkeit
Fuchs T: Leiden an der Sterblichkeit. Formen neurotischer Todesverleugnung. Z Klin Psychol Psychiatr Psychother 2003; 51: 41–50.
A: Leiden am Dasein. Die Daseinsanalyse und die Aufgabe einer Hermeneutik psychopathologischer Phänomene
  • Holzhey-Kunz
11 Holzhey-Kunz A: Leiden am Dasein. Die Daseinsanalyse und die Aufgabe einer Hermeneutik psychopathologischer Phänomene. Wien, Passagen, 1994.
Das Subjekt in der Kur. Über die Bedingungen analytischer Psychotherapie
  • A Holzhey-Kunz
13 Holzhey-Kunz A: Das Subjekt in der Kur. Über die Bedingungen analytischer Psychotherapie. Wien, Passagen, 2002. Downloaded by: Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg
Bruchlinien der Erfahrung. Phänomenologie, Psychoanalyse, Phänomenotechnik
  • B Waldenfels
Waldenfels B: Bruchlinien der Erfahrung. Phänomenologie, Psychoanalyse, Phänomenotechnik. Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 2002.
Leiden an der Sterblichkeit
  • T Fuchs
Fuchs T: Leiden an der Sterblichkeit. Formen neurotischer Todesverleugnung. Z Klin Psychol Psychiatr Psychother 2003; 51: 41-50.
Die Daseinsanalyse und die Aufgabe einer Hermeneutik psychopathologischer Phänomene
  • A Holzhey-Kunz
Holzhey-Kunz A: Leiden am Dasein. Die Daseinsanalyse und die Aufgabe einer Hermeneutik psychopathologischer Phänomene. Wien, Passagen, 1994.