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Healing the Divide Through Wholeness: Holding On to What Makes Us Human



This paper focuses on the epistemological and experiential aspects through which we can gather together the fragmented pieces of our reality. In it, I aim to broaden the overarching framework of wholeness in second wave positive psychology (PP 2.0) and argue that healing the growing divide between components of humans, systems, and disciplines must be acknowledged and validated as essential to achieving a more complete wholeness. First, I advocate for expanding our ways of knowing, by becoming aware of and embracing multiple dimensions and perspectives. This includes listening to the human voice and understanding the human context. It also includes being open-minded and open-hearted in approaching varied ways of knowing. Second, I advocate for broadening the scope of what it means to be human. This includes understanding and validating humans holistically by moving beyond zero-sum, binary categories to consider the value of human paradoxes, limitations, and complexities, as well as appreciating the joining of opposites and the value of brokenness. I then conclude with a few suggestions for future application of these ideas, and offer concluding remarks.
International Journal of Special Issue
Existential Psychology & Psychotherapy Proceedings of the 2016 Meaning Conference
Healing the Divide Through Wholeness: Holding on to What Makes Us Human
Pninit Russo-Netzer, Ph.D.
This article focuses on the epistemological and experiential aspects through which
we can gather together the fragmented pieces of our reality. I aim to broaden the
overarching framework of wholeness in second wave positive psychology (PP 2.0)
and argue that healing the growing divide between components of humans, systems,
and disciplines must be acknowledged and validated as essential to achieving a
more complete wholeness. First, I advocate for expanding our ways of knowing by
becoming aware of and embracing multiple dimensions and perspectives. This
approach includes listening to the human voice and understanding the human
context. It also includes being open-minded and open-hearted in approaching varied
ways of knowing. Second, I advocate for broadening the scope of what it means to
be human. This includes understanding and validating humans holistically by
moving beyond zero-sum, binary categories to consider the value of human
paradoxes, limitations, and complexities, as well as appreciating the joining of
opposites and the value of brokenness. I then conclude with a few suggestions for
future application of these ideas and offer concluding remarks.
It should come as no surprise that the unhealthiness of our world today is in direct
proportion to our inability to see it as a whole.
— Peter Senge
This article is an exploration of a more holistic understanding of second wave positive
psychology (PP 2.0). It advocates expanding our ways of knowing as well as broadening the
scope of what it means to be human.
The above quote conveys an uncomfortable truth. For thousands of years, philosophers
have spoken about the importance of the whole and about the spiritual, physical, intellectual,
relational, and emotional components that make up a full and fulfilling life. Western scholarship
on the issue has for the most part been concerned with the different components of human
existence (e.g., mind, body, spirit, and emotions). Over the years, though, these components have
drifted apart and left a fragmented world and worldview. In this article, I focus on the
epistemological and experiential aspects through which we can gather together the fragmented
pieces of our reality. Here, I aim to broaden the overarching framework of wholeness in PP 2.0
and argue that healing the growing divide between components of humans, systems, and
disciplines must be acknowledged and validated as essential to achieving a more complete
The Cartesian mind–body dualism of the 17th century led to an ideological split between
empirical science and theology (Haynes, 2009), and the scientific awakening of the modern era
contributed to a positivistic scientism that posited the scientific method as the only legitimate
path to knowledge (Mehta, 2011). Modern thought emphasized the values of stability, unity,
positivism, linear progression, continuity, and ultimate and universal truths. It argued for
Researcher and Lecturer, Department of Counseling and Human Development, University of Haifa
International Journal of Special Issue
Existential Psychology & Psychotherapy Proceedings of the 2016 Meaning Conference
certainty and predictability, based on formal order, discipline, and hierarchy (Hirt, 2009). Such
modern reductionism was reflected in the domination of science and nature as epistemological
sources and in the endorsement of “Grand Theories,” which were believed to represent all
knowledge and universal formulas (Harvey, 1990). In this context, social and traditional
structures were perceived to be solid and reliable sources, and society was perceived as playing a
central role in defining moral codes, meaning, and values. The self was considered essentialist,
self-contained, masterful, and unified; and traditional familial, religious, or cultural practices that
reinforced shared values and rituals were believed to maintain the self.
The emergence of postmodernism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries paved the way
for a cultural and intellectual movement away from mechanistic conceptions of reality and
toward a more nondualistic and holistic view (Haynes, 2009). In addition, the pluralistic and
complex postmodern world challenged the existing processes of continuity and socialization, as
well as the transmission of traditional patterns (Buxant, Saroglou, & Tesser, 2010). The void left
by the collapse of stable structures and binding values challenged people in contemporary
societies to construct their own personal beliefs and to address fundamental existential issues on
their own. This context also challenged the static, single, and continuous structures of self and
society and created a need for a self that is fluid and that constantly comes into being, or
“becoming” (e.g., Rindfleish, 2005).
The quality of constant and unfolding becoming echoes Heidegger’s (1962)
conceptualization of Dasein (being in the world) as a unified whole. Such wholeness reflects the
happening or movement of life, in which human beings are continually “in progress” of making
and remaking themselves (Martínková, 2011) in a dialogical, active, and dialectical relationship
with the world (Anderson, 1997; Spinelli, 1989). This co-constitutionality can be illustrated
through the metaphor of dance:
We dance with the world which is dancing with us … the dance is seen as a unity, not as
separate entities. The step of the world defines and gives meaning to the leap of the
person. The posture of the person defines and gives meaning to the pirouette of the world.
(Matsu-Pissot, 1995, p. 41)
In this article, I focus on this essence of wholeness as a way of being in the world, which
involves a whole that is more than the sum of its parts, and on the inevitable complexities and
contradictions that encompass the delicate dance between human beings and the world in which
they exist and operate. When we examine the etymology of the word health, we find that the
Latin source of the word is hal, which means whole; capturing this etymological connection, one
of the dictionary definitions of to heal is to make whole. In a similar vein, the Hebrew word
shalem (i.e., being whole) corresponds with the word shalom (peace). In a sense, wholeness
involves peace and healing of the divided and fragmented parts of an individual, a system, or
society at large. In our current postmodern condition, the concept of wholeness thus appears to
require a more complex, holistic, and nuanced view of human experience, one that goes beyond
happiness or well-being. What makes life worth living, in spite of the transient nature of human
existence, is a critical question that has to be explored through different and complementary
angles and disciplines.
If life itself is too complex to be captured by one single discipline, worldview, or outlook,
so are the varied ways individuals experience and make sense of it. This idea was the motivation
behind a volume I coedited featuring a cross-disciplinary dialogue between the perspectives of
positive and existential psychology concerning core issues of human nature, particularly that of
meaning in life (Batthyany & Russo-Netzer, 2014). My coeditor and I stated:
International Journal of Special Issue
Existential Psychology & Psychotherapy Proceedings of the 2016 Meaning Conference
Addressing the full range of human conditions, emotions, and concerns, as they are
manifested in human motivations of fear of death, alongside the love of life, can deepen
our understanding of positive human functioning, flourishing, growth, and mental health
and portray “the life worth living” as a whole. (Batthyany & Russo-Netzer, 2014, p. 19)
The perspectives of positive and existential psychology represent important aspects of an
indivisible whole and need to be given an equal voice to provide a more comprehensive,
balanced, and holistic view of the full spectrum of human experience than either perspective can
offer separately.
This idea of broadening and expanding the boundaries of current conceptual and
methodological frameworks to construct new frontiers corresponds with recent developments in
the PP 2.0 movement. PP 2.0 advocates a dialectical approach that transcends simplistic
positive–negative dichotomies (Ivtzan, Lomas, Hefferon, & Worth, 2015; Lomas & Ivtzan, 2015;
Wong, 2009, 2011, 2017) and moves toward an integration of the “complex interactions between
the negatives and positives to optimize positive outcomes” (Wong, 2011, p. 69).
In this article, I propose broadening the concept of wholeness and suggest two central,
nonexhaustive approaches to facilitate healing the divide. First, I advocate for expanding our
ways of knowing by becoming aware of and embracing multiple dimensions and perspectives.
This approach includes listening to the human voice and understanding the human context. It
also includes being open-minded and open-hearted in approaching varied ways of knowing.
Second, I advocate for broadening the scope of what it means to be human. This includes
understanding and validating humans holistically by moving beyond zero-sum, binary categories
to consider the value of human paradoxes, limitations, and complexities, as well as appreciating
the joining of opposites and the value of brokenness. I then conclude with a few suggestions for
future application of these ideas and offer concluding remarks.
Expanding Ways of Knowing: Embracing Multiple Dimensions and Perspectives
Progress in science and technology has led to gradual atomization and fragmentation not only as
a sociocultural phenomenon but also within the social sciences with the emergence of
subdisciplines (Kumar, 2003). Psychology, for example, is not considered a unified discipline
due to increased specialization of knowledge (e.g., Goodwin, 2015). Furthermore, the dominant
objectivist reasoning and frame of inquiry adopts analytical lenses that view reality apart—as
binary structures and definitions of either–or, black–white, positive–negative, good–bad
dichotomies. In this sense, specialization may act as a “double-edged weapon. It ensures a high
degree of expertise in a sector of learning but at the same time, it creates conditions of self-
imposed isolation from other pursuits of learning … [which] typifies the present day social
science scene in academies” (Kumar, 2003, p. 154). In other words, while potentially productive
in generating new knowledge, overreliance on this binary analytical approach may hinder
grasping the wholeness of reality. Such imbalance is at the root of the disintegrated view that
disconnects the person and the context, a phenomenon and the way it is experienced, and the
laboratory and the “real world.” A fragmented and segmented view may inhibit our capability of
making sense of human phenomena, thus resulting in a risk of oversimplification, reductionism,
or partial understanding. Therefore, a multiperspective approach to the study of human
experience is warranted (Delle Fave, Brdar, Freire, Vella-Brodrick, & Wissing, 2011).
Going Back to the Things Themselves: Complementing Big Data with the Human Voice
and Context
International Journal of Special Issue
Existential Psychology & Psychotherapy Proceedings of the 2016 Meaning Conference
Paraphrasing Husserl’s (1980) words, we need to “go back to the things themselves” (p. 116) to
regain an open-minded, open-ended approach to the study of the manner in which human beings
experience and encounter the world. In practice, we have distanced ourselves from the “things
themselves,” being at times attached to preconceptions about reality. The lens we use may thus
narrow the things we examine to theoretical conceptualizations and theoretical definitions that
analyze and break reality into abstract pieces. Although important for analysis, this lens may
prevent us from seeing that spectacular and complex mixture of colors that is our human nature,
our reality. Thus, healing the divide at the epistemological level, in our ways of knowing, entails
a genuine and respectful dialogue between research traditions, worldviews, perspectives, and
disciplines to enable them to join forces and to give each discipline an equal voice. Positivism
and empiricism balanced and complemented by phenomenological and constructive approaches
enable a richer and more complex understanding, given that, unlike objects, human phenomena
are always characterized by individual and cultural differences and values (Wong & Roy, 2017).
Constructivist paradigms of phenomenology and narrative/hermeneutic models of knowing are
essential for developing a “big tent” view of the subject of personal meaning and meaning
Going back to the things themselves does not apply only theoretically and conceptually.
It means genuinely listening to the voices of individuals and learning from them what these
onceptual understandings of meaning are all about—what they essentially mean and how they
are experienced in real life rather than through survey self-reports or laboratory experiments.
This activity requires not only a cross-disciplinary approach but also a multimethod one,
integrating and complementing top-down, objective positivism with bottom-up analysis of how
phenomena are widely experienced in the here and now. A closer investigation of individual
worldviews, perceptions, and experiences provides a more holistic and realistic understanding of
life situations, complexities, and the human condition. In this sense, qualitative research methods
are particularly useful for capturing the richness and complexity of a phenomenon, as their
primary interest is understanding how individuals ascribe meaning to or interpret a given
phenomenon (e.g., Hodge, 2001; Merriam, 1998). Listening rather than measuring has the
potential of revealing “fresh categories of meaning that quantitative studies may not have
discovered” (Blieszner & Ramsey, 2002, p. 36). This may enable quantifying subtle humanistic
concepts without sacrificing the life meanings of individual participants (Sheldon & Kasser,
2001; see also Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009).
In line with the importance of taking into account the value of a person-centered
phenomenological approach (Wong, 2016), of giving a human face and voice to abstractions,
theoretical definitions, and categories, I include in this article excerpts from interviews with
individuals who have undergone formative change in their lives, from both clinical and
nonclinical samples
to illustrate some of the conceptual principles of PP 2.0 and to bring the
phenomenology alive. (Following each excerpt, the gender and age of the individual quoted is
stated in parentheses, along with whether the excerpt is from a clinical or nonclinical interview.)
Beyond pluralism in and integration of methods and perspectives for investigating human
experiences in a nuanced and dialectical manner, another essential point to consider as part of
expanding ways of knowing relates to the importance of the context in which individuals live
their lives. Just as we should not neglect the individual human voice and face in the mass of big
data and numbers, we also should keep in mind that “other people matter” (Peterson, 2006, p.
For more information, see Moran & Russo-Netzer, 2015; Russo-Netzer, in press; Russo-Netzer, 2017; Russo-
Netzer & Mayseless, 2014; Russo-Netzer & Mayseless, 2016; Russo-Netzer & Moran, 2017.
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10). As this interview excerpt highlights, the central features that makes us human are shared and
First and foremost it is about being a human being … to remember that the person in
front of you is a human being, who has feelings and thoughts and dreams, who is scared
and sad and happy, who loves and hates and sometimes gets depressed like you … when I
face another person then we can really be in a dialogue as equals, because what happens
in many relationships is that we think we are better or not as good as the other person and
that has a lot of impact on the dialogue. (Male, 34, nonclinical)
In a broader sense, internal processes do not occur in a vacuum, and we cannot separate
consideration of human experiences from the interactions and environment in which they are
constantly shaped. This inextricable connection is explicitly highlighted in Heidegger’s (1962)
account of human existence as the essential and inescapable essence of being human. According
to this view, people always experience things in relation to other people (Pascal, Johnson, Dore,
& Trainor, 2011). Even when human beings are alone or isolated, other humans become visible
by their absence and still remain evident through the humanmade things that surround existence
in the world (Heidegger, 1962; Watts, 2001). The surrounding world and the individual self are
interconnected and intertwined, reflecting simultaneous modes of the relationship between the
human being and the world. The self, thus, is not a static phenomenon but rather one that reflects
a dynamic and complex interplay with its surrounding environment (Huitt, 2004) and
sociocultural systems (Bronfenbrenner, 1992).
Extensive empirical research findings attest to these assertions, emphasizing that culture
plays an important role in individuals’ values, assumptions, and needs (e.g., Delle Fave & Bassi,
2009; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Oyserman, Coon, & Kemmelmeier, 2002) and that well-being
concepts may evoke different understandings and manifestations in different contexts (e.g., Datu
2015; Steger, Kawabata, Shimai, & Otake, 2008). One of the central criticisms of positive
psychology has to do with its culturally specific conceptualization of well-being, often derived
from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) participants (Henrich,
Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010), presented as generalizable and universally relevant to other
cultures (Lomas, 2015). A growing recognition of and sensitivity to the importance of cultural
differences (Lomas, 2016) and recent multicultural considerations in the measurement,
classification, and application of positive psychology concepts (e.g., see Pedrotti & Edwards,
2014) are encouraging. Yet given that “in many important ways cultures are the expressions of
human nature in all its complexity and duality—fears and hopes, cravings and aspirations,
selfishness and generosity, cruelty and compassion” (Wong, Wong, & Scott, 2006, p. 1), further
attention to cultural aspects and settings, such as those involving minority groups, societal
inequalities, immigrants, and non-Western contexts, is needed for a more nuanced understanding
of human concerns.
Being Open-Minded and Open-Hearted: Expanding Attentiveness to Varied Ways of
In order to gain a holistic view, we also need to keep in mind that our current conceptualizations
and insights may only reflect a limited and specific perspective on the infinite and complex
processes to which we have only partial access. Although challenging, becoming aware of our
own set of theoretical and ideological conceptualizations and consciously suspending, or
“bracketing,” judgment, presumptions, and expectations derived from such previous knowledge
is no less important than accumulating new information. Adopting a sense of humility enables us
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to remain self-conscious as researchers and practitioners and not take for granted previously held
paradigms with regard to human nature and experience. This may provide the conditions for the
“opening of ourselves to the phenomenon as a phenomenon” (Keen, 1975, p. 38). While full
bracketing is never absolute (Spinelli, 1989), and while we can ever truly understand the inner
experience of another person given our own personal and sociocultural biases, applying self-
awareness, sensitivity, and attention to our personal knowledge and assumptions (Caelli, 2001;
Davidson, 2000; King, 1994; Kvale, 1996) enables us to get closer to understanding individuals’
inner world through the intention of gaining a fresh perspective toward the phenomenon being
explored (Husserl, 1931; Moustakas, 1994). A fresh outlook on reality, and in particular on the
complex and ever-changing reality of our times, requires curiosity, openness, and a sense of
“second innocence” (Izzo, 2004)—a reconnection with the childlike, vigorous qualities of zest,
wonder, and awe toward the unknown and mysterious in life. In a world of post-truth, relativism,
high intensity, cynicism, and productivity, employing not only an open-minded but open-hearted
approach appears to be significant in reconnecting and coming into direct interaction with the
things themselves.
Expanding openness and attentiveness to varied ways of knowing may include additional
resources that have yet to gain sufficient or legitimate attention. For example, awareness of
synchronicity (happenstance or meaningful coincidence) (Guindon & Hanna, 2002) or intuition
(e.g., Heintzelman & King, 2013) may provide valuable information with regard to perennial
human challenges that lie beyond the scope or reach of logical reasoning. Individuals who stay
receptive to external unexpected events, who turn accidental cues into meaningful ones, and who
actively work to enhance such experiences cope better with today’s changing environment
(Mitchell, Levin, & Krumboltz, 1999). Moreover, by tolerating ambiguity and by staying open-
minded, individuals gain a valuable opportunity to explore their intrinsic interests and desires
and thus are better committed to their authentic identity at work (Blustein, 2011). When we
transcend our own personal boundaries, we can reconnect with the depths and heights of our
human nature and with the mysteries of the world around us. As can be seen in the following
accounts, a sense of inner knowing may guide individuals’ meaning and decision making:
You feel it in your gut. We all feel the answer in our gut. Some call it intuition; I call it,
“the knowledge of the heart.” Often we are afraid to go there and to listen and afterwards
we regret we didn’t and say, “I knew it, I felt it was true or false.” If you are open-hearted
you get an answer. In here [points to his stomach] you know it is the right answer. (Male,
53, nonclinical)
I am very attentive to signs, messages … I know that if I feel that something is not right
or true for me I won’t stay even if it doesn’t have any rational explanation. And it always
proves itself in retrospect. When I follow my inner sense that something isn’t right, even
when I don’t know how to explain it to myself, I usually get a sign or a message which
validates that it is true. I don’t need proof or logical explanations. This is what you call
faith. (Female, 44, nonclinical)
Broadening the Scope of What It Means to Be Human
Paradoxically, the world, which is more connected than ever through technology and social
networks, is also more fragmented and alienated than ever before. Cultural and traditional
deconstruction and fragmentation are taking place, causing people to experience increased
feelings of loneliness, meaninglessness, and detachment (Sperry & Shafranske, 2005). This
presents new challenges—human, social, therapeutic, educational, conceptual, and
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methodological. Notwithstanding the potential benefits of specialization in isolating and
manipulating ingredients of physical, biological, and human systems (Stange, 2009), focusing on
components of humans, systems, or communities as disconnected from their relation to the
whole may be counterproductive. In the health care system, for example, such an approach is
considered to underlie contemporary health crises such as ineffectiveness, inefficiency,
commoditization, and inequality (Stange, 2002). With the contemporary Western specialization
of health professions and the differentiation into a multitude of subspecialties in medicine and
psychology, dismantling individuals and human life into components and ingredients to control
and predict appears to yield a “hunger to be understood as a whole person … the desire to be
understood and treated not as a liver, or a depression, or an addiction but as a complete and
integrated person” (Miller & Thoresen, 1999, p. 10).
Humans need to be understood and validated holistically, rather than as fragmented
components. Accordingly, the importance of nonreductionism is a guiding heuristic principle in
Frankl’s model of the ontology of man. The physiological, the psychological, and the noetic (or
spiritual) dimensions constitute a human person and hence cannot be rejected or overlooked
(Russo-Netzer, Schulenberg, & Batthyany, 2016; Wilber, 1980, 2000). Each of these dimensions
reflects a layer of qualities and functions that interact with each other but is nonetheless
ontologically independent from one another (Frankl, 1946, 1973). A lack of alignment has been
regarded by existential thought to reflect a state of inauthenticity reflected in spiritlessness and
self-denial (Kierkegaard, 1962).
A shift in perspective enabling one to realize the capacity to lead an authentic life can
occur through an encounter with life’s limitations and finitude. Such an encounter might involve
the anxiety of an experience in which one’s familiar and secure world is torn asunder or in which
one faces the possibility of death. Alternatively, personal transformation may be triggered
through the realization of an inner calling to take up the task of living with resoluteness and full
engagement (e.g., Spiegelberg, 2012). In a paraphrase of Plato’s allegory of the cave, delving
into the depths of what it means to be fully, wholly human involves cracking open further chinks
in one’s perceptual cavern, so to speak. Thus, although it may be impossible to live authentically
all the time, we always have a choice whether to open up our inner core in spite of our
imperfections and limitations. The alternative is to close it off and live an inauthentic life, one in
which we forget we will die and we pretend we fit certain cultural or social expectations. Such
choices construct us as human beings. As one interviewee put it:
In this [growth] process you often realize that things you considered as yourself are
actually appearances of you, and not who you really are. And then you get to deeper
levels and you realize that these too are only things that belong to you, but not who you
are. They are descriptions of you but they are not who you are. And you work to peel off
these layers. Layer after layer you break free. (Male, 51, nonclinical)
Moving Beyond Zero-Sum, Binary Categories to Uncover New Shades of Being
Recently, empirical psychological research concerning well-being has become more sensitive to
the potential that lies in human paradoxes, limitations, and complexities, as well as to the
downside of positivity. More specifically, alongside the popularity and significant contributions
of the field of positive psychology, claims have been raised that more depth and a greater
existential-humanistic perspective should be taken into consideration (e.g., Schneider, Bugental,
& Pierson, 2001; Taylor, 2001) and that core questions regarding the human condition cannot be
fully addressed through a positive-only approach (e.g., Ivtzan et al., 2015; Lazarus, 2003; Wong
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et al., 2006). Recent accumulated evidence affirms these claims against binary or dichotomous
thinking. This evidence is in line with Grant and Schwartz’s (2011) theory of “too much of a
good thing,” which suggests nonmonotonic inverted-U-shaped effects, whereby when positive
phenomena reach high levels, their effects begin to turn negative. For example, various studies
have suggested the paradoxical effect that the more individuals value happiness, the less likely
they will be able to actually attain it (Mauss, Tamir, Anderson, & Savino, 2011; Schooler,
Ariely, & Lowenstein, 2003). Research has also demonstrated that high optimism may backfire
(Brown & Marshall, 2001; Milam, Richardson, Marks, Kemper, & McCutchan, 2004) and that
overusing strengths may harm well-being and performance (Freidlin, Littman-Ovadia, &
Niemiec, 2017; Schwartz & Sharpe, 2006). Overall, based on a growing body of research, the
conclusion is that there are downsides to the positives (Forgas, 2014; Ivtzan et al., 2015; Lomas
& Ivtzan, 2015; Wong, 2011) and upsides to the negatives (e.g., Kashdan & Biswas-Diener,
2015; Norem & Chang, 2002; Woolfolk, 2002; Wong, 2012). Thus, in line with the appraisal
principle of PP 2.0 that classifying phenomena as either positive or negative should be
contextually dependent rather than arbitrary (Lomas, 2016), a complete and solid understanding
of that which makes us human cannot simplify complexities, avoid dark sides, or bypass
contradictive states.
At the core of our being as humans lie paradoxes and dichotomies that contain the whole
of existence and encapsulate completeness (see also van Deurzen, 2015). Examples of such
constitutive paradoxes abound in our existence and may include striving for connection and
absorption together with independence, self-focus together with self-transcendence, and infinite
choices in a finitude being. The capacity to be aware and hold dialectics in a coherent manner is
illustrated in this interview excerpt:
You are, so to speak, sure of everything, but you are not sure of anything. You know
everything is yours and nothing is yours. You know that you live forever and you live for
a second … and that is why I am telling you that I don’t have a clue about anything. It is
not out of pride, I just understand that there is no point to it. Who are we? We are all just
a deposit. That is all. And knowing that, life suddenly becomes peaceful; full of
vicissitudes but still peaceful. (Male, 47, nonclinical)
Another vivid example of such dialectics and paradoxes that are part and parcel of human
existence as a whole is the awareness of our significance that emerges from acknowledging our
insignificance in the world.
It was weird—it was a suicide attempt on New Year’s Eve. I was alone on campus … I
had drank and taken drugs. I think I was out for a day, you know, passed out there … and
when I woke up, it was night. And I went down to the lake and there was, like, gazillion
stars, you know? And it was the silence with the lake being so silent and groaning, too,
like lakes, when they freeze, they have this groan. It was just spectacular beauty. And it,
like, struck me—I was overwhelmed by my insignificance, and yet of being a part of this
natural order … that sort of allowed for this turning point of, you know, recognizing my
own place in the world. (Female, 45, clinical)
In a way, the art of living an authentic life in the face of transient existence engages the
full range and aspects of being human. An expanded view of what it means to be human, in the
light of life’s complexities, must embrace both victories and failures, crises and hopes, pain and
joy, potentials and limitations. Rainer Maria Rilke (1996) captured this essence beautifully:
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once,
with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence,
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something helpless that wants our love” (p. 75). In other words, getting in touch with and
agreeing to observe our deepest fears, our dragons, so to speak, enables us to get to know them
as they really are—vulnerable parts within ourselves that need our caring attention in order to
heal and to reconnect with authentic life forces. In a similar vein, anxiety can be seen not only as
maladaptive but also as an indicator of being alive, as a source of energy and strength to live
more deeply and more fully (Tillich, 2000). The capability of holding and moving between
dichotomous states of hope and despair, absurdity and purposefulness, inherent to human
existence appears to be reflected in the experience of a complex, nuanced, and complete way of
being, as these excerpts reveal:
I am happier today … but a different kind of happy … I’m not “happy high (yoo-hoo),”
but a more gentle, subtle and silent kind of happiness that lies deep within. It is much
more stable, much more lasting. An inner happiness in my heart … it is something that
stays, it’s always there even if something happens and I’m angry or sad, it’s there.
(Female, 45, nonclinical)
I feel I am much calmer and peaceful, and ultimately much happier … I feel that I have
more joy in my life now, less falseness, less pretending, less “playing… I am much
truer to what I am feeling, closer to myself … it clearly gives me much more peace and
serenity, but its greatness is that along with peacefulness it also leaves space to be human,
to be angry. (Male, 35, nonclinical)
Appreciating the Joining of Opposites and the Value of Brokenness
There is nothing more whole than a broken heart.
—Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Human wholeness is an ongoing and vibrant process, not a static state, and an essential part of
human wholeness is allowing ourselves to get fully involved with life and be vulnerable enough
to be broken. Our emotional spectrum is broad, and to miss any of it would be to miss out on the
spectacular experience of wholeness. In fact, a new study has uncovered 27 varieties of
emotional experiences, suggesting a rich and nuanced range of emotional states (Cowen &
Keltner, 2017). Coming into direct contact with the world entails an exposure to and engagement
with the full spectrum of colors and the beauty and pain that life encompasses. Human life is not
neatly organized as theoretical conceptualizations presume it to be; it is a blend, a mixture of
colors. New, rich, and more intense colors emerge from that mixture and blend, not just residing
next to each other, such as in painters’ color palettes. Some of our most meaningful experiences
are bittersweet, a blend of colors, of flavors. In this sense, if we have never been broken, fully
involved, or touched by life, we can never be truly whole. Wholeness involves brokenness as an
essential and inherent part of a full life.
A vivid example of this idea is the art of kintsugi. The essence of kintsugi (“golden
rejoining” in Japanese) is uncovering the hidden beauty and power of the shattered, in which the
broken beauty not only survives but thrives. Through this technique, broken ceramic pottery is
alchemized into a beautifully restored masterpiece, whereby rather than hiding the flaws, the
cracks are highlighted in gold. Likewise, the triumph of the human spirit emerges not from
discarding our wounded parts but from embracing our imperfections and rejoining them as
pieces of a beautiful masterpiece and a more complete whole. Just as, according to the poet
Rumi, “the wound is the place where the light enters you,” when we allow ourselves and others
to acknowledge and cultivate the power and beauty that underlie the cracks and wounds,
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something new is given a space for growth. The potentially destructive becomes constructive, as
can be seen in these interview excerpts exemplifying the defiant power of the human spirit in the
face of life’s challenges:
When I fall, I am more capable of picking myself up, even taking advantage of
that to my own good. It is more meaningful than gathering all the pieces together:
it is to create something new out of it. (Female, 53; nonclinical)
People can lock me up in a hospital and they can put me into a padded quiet room and
they can strap me down with 5-point restraints and give me all these meds … but no
matter what people do to me, I realized that I always have my mind, my thoughts, and my
feelings … whenever there’s difficult things, I just remind myself for the things I feel
really thankful … now when bad things happen I have that wisdom. (Male, 48, clinical)
The joining of opposites—such as light and dark, pain and growth, our most beautiful
and ugliest moments, the depth of despair and the height of elevation—in the creation of a whole
corresponds to Ryff et al.’s (2014) assertion:
The cure is [thus] not defined by the alleviation of emotional discomfort, or the
attainment of some ideal feeling state, but by being able to take constructive action in
one’s life—i.e., being able to live a full and meaningful existence, rather than be ruled by
passing emotions. (p. 12)
Similarly, PP 2.0’s core dialectical principles of covalence and complementarity (Lomas, 2016;
Lomas & Ivtzan, 2015; Wong, 2011) hold that “wellbeing fundamentally involves a ‘dynamic
harmonization’ of dichotomous states” (Lomas & Ivtzan, 2015, p. 6). In other words, healing and
flourishing inevitably entail acknowledging and confronting the dark side of human existence,
which reflects the dialectical coexistence of positives and negatives (Lomas & Ivtzan, 2015), and
the principle of self-transcendence (Wilber 1980, 2000; Wong, 2011). As can be seen in the
following excerpt, a holistic sense of self involves embracing and accepting what otherwise can
be seen as the dark side:
I have had so many parts within me that I refused to acknowledge … like my anger, my
aggression, even my cruelty. These things were the most difficult to encounter, but once I
did, so much space cleared up. All those weights that I carried, I’ve learned to treat them
as my growth space and not as my enemy … I let go of control and met these parts within
me of hard feelings, of my weaknesses, of death wishes, and it is such a corrective
experience because once you validate these parts within you, when you accept them
rather than struggle, you finally feel whole. (Male, 51, nonclinical)
The vitality that comes from owning ourselves thus appears to entail an acknowledgment
and validation of various parts and voices within the self, even contradicting ones. Yet the key is
not just that we need the negative in order to acknowledge the positive, to facilitate it, or to
channel it toward positive outcomes. More than that, to be fully alive entails being in touch with
both extremes of life. Is the negative or “bad” merely the negation or absence of the positive or
“good”? Or is reality more complex than zero-sum, binary structures and definitions? Are there
benefits to being weak, fragile, and vulnerable, not only to being resilient, competent, and
strong? To gain full authority over our lives, we must acknowledge and embrace our limitations
and weaknesses, not merely as leverage for growth and resilience but as valued and significant
ingredients of human nature. They orient us toward self-discovery and remind us of our deeply
held values and authentic existence, which touches life’s innermost ultimate concerns: birth and
death, isolation and connection, meaning and emptiness, freedom and responsibility.
However, that being said, it is important to offer a few words of caution or reservation.
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While in general good and bad, or positive and negative, should, as discussed, be acknowledged
and embraced as part of human nature, not all negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors can be
morally or ethically treated as equally worthwhile or beneficial, as human history has
unfortunately proven. Thus, further theoretical and empirical exploration is needed to unravel the
delicate nuances, conditions, and potential problematics involved in giving equal importance and
meaning to both the negatives and positives of human nature. An important step in that direction
is the concept of conscience that has been suggested by Frankl (1963) as the mechanism through
which individuals can become attuned to the meaning potential in any given moment and to
discern right from wrong as required by any unique situation. As a function of the human spirit
and unlike Freud’s superego, conscience remains free to take a stand in the face of a given
cultural norm or moral (Lewis, 2011). In Frankl’s words,
In an age in which the Ten Commandments seem to lose their unconditional validity, man
must learn more than ever to listen to the ten thousand commandments arising from the
ten thousand unique situations of which his life consists. And as to these commandments,
he is referred to, and must rely on his conscience. (Frankl, 1969, p. 65)
Wholeness with an Eye Toward the Future
Being, thus, should not only be well but also whole. With an eye to the future, it is the suggestion
of this essay that conceptual, theoretical, and empirical developments of these ideas within PP
2.0 should be accompanied by interventions in the practice of therapy, education, organizations,
and health care. Interventions aimed toward the cultivation of whole-being, rather than merely
well-being or happiness, may build on evidence-based practices of first wave positive
psychology as well as meaning interventions, along with practical implications of PP 2.0
principles. For example, in education we should take note to not teach students that happiness of
the absence-of-sadness variety is the default position. Rather, we should aim at creating for them
the conditions to develop a sense of healthy and balanced wholeness, of being fully engaged in
and touched by life. Such practice involves developing a flexible mindset that acknowledges
vulnerability and cultivating a space that embraces struggle, mistakes, failures, imperfection, and
the full emotional spectrum. One teaching method is to expose students to real-life stories to
learn more deeply about the importance of the holistic approach in the face of life’s complexities.
As Kübler-Ross (1975) expresses it:
Should you shield the valleys from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of
their canyons. The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known
defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the
depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life
that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people
do not just happen. (p. 96)
In this sense, encouraging students to choose to “say yes to life,” to become aware of and to be
fully immersed in the unrepeatable moments in their day-to-day existence, may enable them to
engage in a vital and authentic dialogue with life itself. Furthermore, the daily routine in schools
allows for the creation of “rituals” that facilitate a space for self-exploration. Joint discussions
and contemplations inspired by the “big books” such as sacred, philosophical, and other texts
may stimulate Socratic dialogues and broaden awareness of values, morality, virtues, and
dilemmas concerning the question of what it means to be a human being. An exposure to nature
and the creative arts (such as songs, quotes, metaphors, symbols, arts, drama, guided imagery, or
music) may also contribute to the creation of a broad and holistic foundation for personal
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expression, exploration, and active learning in regard to the self, life, and the world.
The same applies to workplaces and organizations, where our current culture tends to
push for optimizing happiness, which is unrealistic. In the therapeutic setting, we can aim to help
our clients explore the full range of the existential spectrum, guided by the question of “How can
I help my client get closer to life?instead of “How can I help my client become happier?” We
can ask our clients, “What did you learn today that has taught you something about what it
means to be you?” Furthermore, popular interventions such as “benefit finding” in challenging
situations may be broadened from only promoting positive growth to inquiring as to how
allegedly negative emotions (such as fear, deep sadness, or anger) stemming from these
challenges have contributed to a sense of wholeness, self-discovery, and authenticity.
Concluding Remarks
There is in all things … a hidden wholeness. There is in all things an inexhaustible
sweetness and purity, a silence that is a foundation of action and joy. It rises up in
gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being.
—Thomas Merton
The search for the hidden sense of wholeness that lies in the heart of all that exists—be it in
ourselves as human beings or in the world around us—can be traced throughout history and
across cultures and appears to emerge ever more forcefully in the present fragmented and
deconstructed world of instabilities. In this article, I attempted to highlight two overarching,
interrelated, and complementary facets of the broad framework of wholeness.
First, I addressed the importance of expanding ways of knowing by giving more attention
to the multitude of dimensions and perspectives that exist in order to gain a sense of the whole. I
suggested that in order to avoid the risk of oversimplification, reductionism, or partial
understanding, we need to go back to the things themselves to complement big data with the
human voice and context. More than that, wholeness also involves the realization that there is
something more to human experience than meets the eye, and it is that something more that
animates life as we experience it. Expanding the ways of knowing includes cultivating a humble
and fresh outlook toward that which is yet to be known as well as consciously adopting an open-
minded and open-hearted approach to additional sources of knowing ourselves and the world,
such as intuition and synchronicity, as they may hold insights on perplexing questions at the core
of human existence. More specifically, this alternative perspective includes (a) the inclusion of
constructivist and phenomenological and narrative/hermeneutic research and practice
approaches; (b) the value of integrative quantitative and qualitative research approaches for
studying meaning of life, wholeness, and well-being; and (c) drawing on literary, poetic, and
spiritual sources for understanding the richness of human experience.
Second, I addressed broadening the scope of what it means to be human and the specific
significance of holistically considering, understanding, and validating human beings rather than
treating them as fragmented components. Wholeness, as existence itself, is not a static
destination to which we should aim, but rather a constantly changing, revolving state of
becoming. As Frankl (1985) puts it,
Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather he determines himself whether he
gives in to conditions or stands up to them … man does not simply exist but always
decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment. (p. 154)
This position does not reflect introspection that is isolated from the world but rather entails full
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and deep engagement with life’s complexities and contradictions as well as recognition of the
blurred boundaries between seemingly monolithic or binary structures of positive–negative and
good–bad. When we move beyond such zero-sum structures and neat conceptual frameworks to
the reality of human beings, we are more capable of exploring the full and rich range of colors
and experiences. The brokenness, downfalls, and defeats, as well as the glorious highs and
victories, the ordinary and the extraordinary, all contain the seeds of such wholeness.
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... Wholeness is a dimension of well-being that goes beyond any single spiritual attribute, character strength, or virtue. Instead, it speaks to people in their entirety Russo-Netzer, 2017b). It is also multilayered and dynamic and can manifest itself in diverse ways. ...
... We offer another perspective: wholeness. Wholeness shifts our focus away from the search for one key to the life well-lived Russo-Netzer, 2017b). It embraces the need to wrestle with life in its multifaceted complexity and organize it into a unified whole. ...
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Little attention has been given to the integral relationship between character strengths and spirituality (the search for or communing with the sacred to derive meaning and purpose). The science of character strengths has surged in recent years with hundreds of studies, yet with minimal attention to spirituality or the literature therein. At the same time, the science of spirituality has steadily unfolded over the last few decades and has offered only occasional attention to select strengths of character (e.g., humility, love, forgiveness) or the universal typology of the VIA Classification of character strengths and virtues. In this exploration, we argue that there is a robust synergy of these sciences and practices revealing that spirituality is vitally concerned with promoting character strengths. At the same time, character strengths can enhance and deepen spiritual practices, rituals, and experiences. We elaborate on how character strengths and spirituality come together in the context of the psycho-spiritual journey toward wholeness. By wholeness, we are referring to a way of being in the world, which involves a life-affirming view of oneself and the world, a capacity to see and approach life with breadth and depth and the ability to organize the life journey into a cohesive whole. We further discuss six levels by which spirituality can be integrated within the VIA Classification, including a meta-perspective in which wholeness represents a meta-strength or superordinate virtue. We frame two pathways of integration: the grounding path, in which character strengths offer tangibility and thereby deepen and enhance spirituality, and the sanctification path, in which spirituality elevates character strengths. Finally, we turn to research-based practices and examine how character strengths might facilitate and contribute to spiritual practices and, conversely, how spirituality might enhance character strength practices. Such multifaceted integration offers insight and wisdom to both areas of study and opens up new directions for psychospiritual research and practices to deepen and broaden our understanding of what it means to be human.
... Such endeavors are antithetical to the ideas of wholeness now receiving heightened attention (Niemiec et al. 2020;Russo-Netzer 2018), as they should. Features of wholeness have been delineated to include embracing life with breadth and depth, having a life affirming view of oneself and the world, and being able to organize one's life journey into a cohesive whole. ...
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The links between spirituality and eudaimonic well-being are examined, beginning with a look at theoretical issues as to whether spirituality is best construed as part of well-being, or as a possible influence on well-being. A brief review of scientific findings from the MIDUS study linking religion and spirituality to well-being and other outcomes is then provided to show recent empirical work on these topics. Suggestions for future work are also provided. The third section is forward-thinking and addresses the power of nature to nurture spirituality and well-being, beginning with a look at how current research has linked nature to human flourishing. Issues of spirituality are rarely mentioned in this literature, despite evidence that nature has long been a source of inspiration in poetry, literature, art, and music. These works reveal that the natural world speaks to the human soul. To explore such ideas, parts of Jungian psychology are revisited: the soul’s longing for poetry, myth, and metaphor; the importance of animism, which sees nature as a field inhabited by spirit; and the devaluing of ancient cultures. The final section considers the wisdom of the indigenous peoples who saw spirit in everything. Their inputs, exemplified with “Two-Eyed Seeing”, offer new visions for thinking about the interplay of spirituality, well-being, and the natural world.
... Роджерс, Ф. Перлс, А. Минделл и др.). Современные практики психологической помощи, базирующиеся на принципах экзистенциального подхода, также строятся на представлениях о человеке как наделенном духовной жизнью с выраженными порывами к жизнетворчеству и стремлением к поиску смысла не только в обыденной жизни [34], но и перед лицом смертельно опасных заболеваний [32]. Такие характеристики духовной жизни присущи человеку, не являющемуся изолированной единицей многомиллионного социума, а частью разумно упорядоченного целого, неразрывно связанного с историей, традицией и культурой. ...
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The study presents a model of the clinical and psychological picture of our contemporaries' experience of tragic events related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is shown that the deformation of everyday life under the influence of threatening circumstances sharpened the features of the clinical and psychological picture of everyday life of our contemporaries. As the most significant features, the authors note experiences of the type of traumatic stress (fear of losing a job, experience of limited movement, concern about the problems of the near and distant future, in connection with the transition to remote work, fear of the lack of clear prospects for the future), as well as experiences that create a risk of reducing social interest (a decrease in the level of direct interpersonal contacts, boredom due to a decrease in social and intellectual activity, feelings of helplessness and impotence, fear of loss of autonomy and independence). It is shown that the psychological characteristics of modern people, especially young people and adolescents (representatives of Y and Z generations), create obstacles to the application of the experience of coping with the difficulties of previous generations due to the widespread postmodern worldview with its characteristic features. The tendency of modern existential psychotherapy and positive psychology to accept suffering as an experience necessary for personal growth is shown. As a metaphor for the spiritual life of a contemporary and the inability to help people in need of help, the authors cite the images of the film "Mirror for the Hero" (1987) because of their special relevance in our time. The directions of psychological assistance that allows to release the resources of coping with the situation are revealed. The prospects of studying the clinical and psychological picture of the mental life of people during the COVID-19 pandemic are considered.
... Few, if anyone, goes through life without suffering wounds and experiencing some degree of brokenness. Wholeness, then, is not the elimination of brokenness but involves ways to incorporate brokenness into the life journey (Russo-Netzer 2018). This point is illustrated by kintsugi, a centuriesold Japanese art form. ...
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Religious and spiritual (r/s) struggles have been robustly linked to negative outcomes, such as greater psychological distress, reduced well-being, and difficulty finding meaning in life. R/s struggles, however, do not inevitably lead to decline. Many people report post-traumatic and spiritual growth through their r/s struggles, even though correlational studies linking r/s struggles to perceptions of growth have produced mixed results. How do we make sense of this overall pattern of findings? Perhaps growth following r/s struggles occurs under certain conditions. Prior conceptual work by Pargament suggests that specific aspects of one’s orienting system (i.e., the confluence of r/s, dispositional, and psychosocial factors which help guide people in their search for significance and purpose) may play a pivotal role in predicting growth or decline in the wake of an r/s struggle. In the present empirical study, we expected to find that among r/s strugglers, those with orienting systems marked by greater wholeness would be more likely to report growth and less decline. Four dimensions of greater wholeness (purposiveness, breadth and depth, life affirmation, cohesiveness) were measured by the presence of meaning in one’s life, self-control, universality, optimism, compassion, openness to change while tolerating doubt, and a collaborative problem-solving relationship with God. We tested these hypotheses using data from a cross-sectional study (N = 1162) of undergraduates at three universities. Results generally supported our hypotheses, with a few exceptions. Greater wholeness was associated with reports of more growth and less decline after an r/s struggle.
In the early 1990’s, Gloria Steinem, a leader of the feminist movement, authored the book A Revolution from Within: Self-Esteem to help empower girls and women. Decades later, females continue to suffer disproportionately from higher occurrences of psychological disorders and distress, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-harm behaviors. While causes are likely multi-faceted, research shows that girls and women experience high levels of shame and self-criticism. In essence, we are at war with ourselves. Drawing largely from research in the field of positive psychology, and contrasting with Steinem’s theory on self-esteem, this paper illustrates how self-compassion may address this inner conflict, revolutionizing our relationship to self, others, and the world around us. The three elements of self-compassion - mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness – collectively interact, producing the stabilizing and powerful downstream effects of greater belonging, safety, wholeness, resilience, and self-authorship and agency. When women practice self-compassion, we profoundly change how we show up in the world. As we do, we are able to model self-compassion for our girls, helping to empower the next generation of women – the most revolutionary act of all.
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The global COVID -19 pandemic has triggered a wide variety of psychological crises worldwide. In order to respond rapidly and efficiently to the complex challenges, mental health professionals are required to adopt a multidimensional and integrative view. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) founded by Albert Ellis promotes rationality and self-acceptance. Logotherapy, pioneered by Viktor Frankl potentiates meaning and resilience. Both approaches are complementary and mutually enriching. The goal of this paper is to propose an integrative model of “optimal sense-making”, a concept that combines both rationality and meaning, as well as the role of self-transcendence and healthy negative emotions. The model offers a theoretical and clinical foundation for efficient and effective psychological intervention plans for those affected by the pandemic. Along with theoretical background, illustrating case studies will be presented to support potential application of the integrative model to affected individuals as well as the work of first line health professionals during these times of pandemic. Implications are considered for utilizing theoretical and applied insights from the model to cultivate resilience in face of adversity and suffering.
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Significance Claims about how reported emotional experiences are geometrically organized within a semantic space have shaped the study of emotion. Using statistical methods to analyze reports of emotional states elicited by 2,185 emotionally evocative short videos with richly varying situational content, we uncovered 27 varieties of reported emotional experience. Reported experience is better captured by categories such as “amusement” than by ratings of widely measured affective dimensions such as valence and arousal. Although categories are found to organize dimensional appraisals in a coherent and powerful fashion, many categories are linked by smooth gradients, contrary to discrete theories. Our results comprise an approximation of a geometric structure of reported emotional experience.
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This chapter first argues the need for second wave positive psychology (PP2.0), which is informed by Frankl's logotherapy as well as existential psychology. The main thesis of PP2.0 is that in order to attain healing and authentic happiness, one needs to confront the dark side of human existence and pursue self-transcendence—going beyond oneself to serve something greater. The chapter then introduces integrative meaning therapy and its existential positive interventions, representing the applications of PP2.0. The main contributions of this chapter are that it brings out the positive aspects of existential therapy and adds a new dimension of existential concerns to positive psychology as usual.
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This paper describes six research principles for revitalizing humanistic psychology and impacting mainstream psychology based on Gergen (2016) and DeRobertis (2016). It demonstrates how Wong’s meaning-centered research and therapy is an extension of humanistic-existential psychology and has impacted mainstream psychology indirectly by following six principles. Furthermore, it also shows how Wong’s (2011) second wave positive psychology is able to provide a new humanistic vision to impact mainstream psychology directly. Finally, it argues that humanistic psychology needs to take these six principles seriously by going beyond phenomenological research and replacing a “tribal” mentality with a pluralistic big-tent perspective since humanistic-existential themes permeate every aspect of psychology.
This book provides the first comprehensive collection of topics that lie within the intersection of positive psychology and multicultural issues. Written by leaders in the field and using a broad definition of culture (including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic or social class status, disability status, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, and gender), this book reviews relevant research, theory, and suggestions for practice and highlights the importance of considering context within a strengths-based framework. Beginning with a history of the intersection of multiculturalism and positive psychology and issues related to measurement and methodology, the volume proceeds to specific examples of current research in multiple areas of cultural identity. Finally, domains (e.g., school, work, psychotherapy) in which the findings of this work can be applied are described, as are directions for future theory and research in this area. This volume is aimed at students, scholars, and practitioners across several fields including multicultural psychology, positive psychology, counseling and clinical psychology, school psychology, social psychology, as well as marriage and family counseling, and social work. It will serve as an important reference to any who are interested in learning about the intersection of positive psychology and multiculturalism.
Processes of personal and individual spiritual change outside institutional religion lack common moral guidelines and authority as well as accepted systems of beliefs and truths. Despite the existence of studies on processes of spiritual change outside religious doctrines (Fuller, 2001; Kraus, 2014; Streib et al., 2011), the issues of veracity, genuineness and validity in such contexts remain unaddressed. This study used a qualitative-phenomenological approach to explore how individuals who experience spiritual change outside institutional religion construe such issues during their spiritual journey. In-depth interviews with 27 Israeli adults (13 men and 14 women) undergoing such change revealed a pervasive concern with realness and major touchstones they developed as criteria to identify what they perceive as real spirituality: Others-oriented touchstones (dogmatic vs. open, unmediated and autonomic conduct; and seclusion vs. coping with real-life complexities) and self-oriented touchstones (bodily experience which provides a sense of ultimacy and attentiveness to signs).
This unique theory-to-practice volume presents far-reaching advances in positive and existential therapy, with emphasis on meaning-making as central to coping and resilience, growth and positive change. Innovative meaning-based strategies are presented with clients facing medical and mental health challenges such as spinal cord injury, depression, and cancer. Diverse populations and settings are considered, including substance abuse, disasters, group therapy, and at-risk youth. Contributors demonstrate the versatility and effectiveness of meaning-making interventions by addressing novel findings in this rapidly growing and promising area. By providing broad international and interdisciplinary perspectives, it enhances empirical findings and offers valuable practical insights. Such a diverse and varied examination of meaning encourages the reader to integrate his or her thoughts from both existential and positive psychology perspectives, as well as from clinical and empirical approaches, and guides the theoretical convergence to a unique point of understanding and appreciation for the value of meaning and its pursuit.
Rev.& expanded from Case study research in education,1988.Incl.bibliographical references,index
Despite a number of theoretical propositions suggesting that character strengths are multidimensional and may have darker sides, to date strengths have been approached strictly as a positive entity. The current study sought to (a) define and measure these darker sides of character strengths in the form of underuse-overuse, as well as their traditionally positive counterpart––optimal use––and their associations with positive and negative outcomes, and (b) explain the role of specific strengths' underuse-overuse in social anxiety. Based on an international sample of 238 adults, we found that general character strengths underuse and overuse were related to negative outcomes, while optimal use was related to positive outcomes. The overuse of social intelligence and humility, and underuse of zest, humor, self-regulation and social intelligence was associated with social anxiety. Using discriminant analysis, this combination successfully re-sorted 87.3% of the participants into those that do and do not have clinical levels of social anxiety. These findings suggest that strengths are in fact multifaceted, providing novel insight into the role that sub-optimal-use facets play in undesirable outcomes, providing a glimpse of psychopathology through the lens of positive psychology.