Daniel Sullivan, Alexis Goad, Harrison J. Schmitt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Sullivan, Goad, and Schmitt, in Chapter 2, view the relationship between psychology and existentialism as “characterized by both promise and peril”. Existentialism is one of the philosophies “best suited as a foundation for psychology”, yet questions immediately appear regarding whether an existential viewpoint can be reconciled with “empiricist epistemology or normative praxis”. The authors explore existential themes as they appear in two sub-fields, clinical and social psychology. Existentialism poses its own valuable inquiries to clinical psychology, including “what it means for the ‘pathological’ individual to ‘adapt’ to mainstream society”. Equally “social psychology is confronted by the question of what is lost when we scientifically reduce individual experience to the statistical mean”. Existential questions can be treated empirically, arriving at conclusions including that “personal and social situations which reduce people's feelings of relatedness, competence, and autonomy, or their ability to act upon their intrinsic motives, diminish psychological well-being and personal flourishing”. The authors point both to the relative isolation of existential psychology and to the notable successes its perspective has brought about.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Existential Human Science
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000916225
ISBN (Print)9780367742317
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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