Concepts of pathology, as treated by the traditions of clinical psychology and psychiatry, define what is ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ in human behaviour. Various psychological paradigms exist today, each emphasising diverse ways of defining and treating psyopathology. Most commonly utilised is the medical model which is limited in many respects, criticised for reducing patients problems to a list of pathological symptoms that have a primarily biological base and which are to be treated behaviourally or pharmacologically (Schwartz & Wiggins 1999). Such reductionistic positivist ways of viewing the individual maintain the medical discourse of ‘borderline personality’,
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I will outline how these predicaments of life can precipitate anxiety, guilt, inertia and the loss of will; that facing the responsibilities to the ‘givens’ and choices in existence can cause ontological anxiety, a natural reaction to living authentically, and the problems incurred when one avoids tackling these predicaments and contradictions, thus living inauthentically or choosing to withdraw into a solitary world. The existential notion of pathology will be contrasted with that of the positivist approach.
During the Second World War existentialism found it’s zenith of popularity, a time when Europe was in crisis, faced with mass death and destruction. Existentialism provides a moving account of the agony of being thrown into the world, perhaps appealing the times of intense confusion, despair and rootlesssness caused by the War and it’s aftermath. In the 19th century existential thought is found in the writings of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Friederich Neitzche (1844-1900), Fyodor Dostoyevoski (1821-1881) and later Jean-Paul Satre (1905-1980), all of whom were opposed to the predominant philosophies, and scientific dogmas, of their time and committed to exploring the experience of reality in a passionate and personal manner.
The birth of modern existentialism can be attributed to Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), who’s thinking was