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Researcher at ACRPS

ACRPS researcher Kamel Terchi delivered the weekly seminar, presenting on "Existentialist Psychotherapy: between Philosophical Hypothesis and Scientific Truth," on Wednesday 14 February 2018. The research explores religious philosophy, divinity, and modern approaches to religious phenomenon, in addition to looking at French and German existentialist philosophy, and both existentialist psychotherapy and ontological approaches.

Terchi began his discussion by presenting the historical roots of existentialist psychotherapy. Kierkegaard was perhaps the first to set the parameters of psychotherapy in contemporary Europe. He initiated the ontological study of anxiety through his work The Concept of Anxiety, and likewise his Either/Or. Kierkegaard divided anxiety into three types. The first type is that associated with chastity, purity, and innocence. The second is the anxiety linked to the duality of the soul and body. The third is linked to freedom, the most complex, because of the dizziness associated with freedom. Terchi also listed the most important concepts that Kierkegaard's existentialism, such as Sin, guilt, anxiety, despair, terror, loneliness, isolation, self, death, and so on.

The speaker went on to tackle concepts of existential psychotherapy developed by the post-Kierkegaard existentialist philosophers who played an active role in the crystallization existential psychotherapy. He discussed the German philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche for his Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and Martin Heidegger for Being and Time. Terchi also explored some of the philosophers from the French existentialist school such as Karl Jaspers and his General Psychopathology, Gabriel Marcel in his Metaphysical Journal, and Nikolai Berdyaev in The Fate of Man in the Modern World, and Paul Tillich, with his two most important works, The Courage to be, and The Shaking of the Foundations. He also discussed the position of the existentialist psychotherapy school of older psychological schools, such as Freudian Psychoanalysis, John Watson's behaviourism, and the Gestalt school of psychology with Wertheimer, Koffka, and Kohler, as well as Erich Fromm, Carl Jung, and Carl Rogers.

In his research, Terchi presented a sharp critique of the School of Psychopharmacology and the pioneers of existentialist psychotherapy within this school, including James Park and his 2001 book An Existential Understanding of Death: A Phenomenology of Ontological Anxiety. He then addressed the basic concepts of the existentialist school of psychotherapy, beginning with Victor Frankl, and his central work, Man's Search for Meaning. This school created a methodological approach to psychotherapy, centered primarily on the human need to search for the meaning of existence. Terchi also addressed the fundamental concepts presented by the existentialist psychotherapist, Rollo May, in his book Man's Search for Himself. May sought to demonstrate the innate need for a sense of value. May also examined the overwhelming sense of anxiety that life often presented, inherent to the human psyche, and argued that human suffering lies in his tireless quest to be himself.

Terchi concluded his lecture with a critical review of the school of existentialist psychotherapy. The lecture was followed by a general discussion, with participation from the audience.