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What is an Existential Crisis?

People find themselves trying to answer: "Why am I here?" and "Who am I?"

/ VP / Profimedia
jun 27 2024, 12:21


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It could be the consequence of global warming, global political instability, the advancement in AI, or the Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, but lately, I noticed that people started throwing around the phrase “existential crisis.”

About time! As an existential psychotherapist, I am excited that we started to discuss this widespread but serious (and at times painful or scary) experience.

Although a common phrase often used in memes, during the punchline of a joke, or an emotional therapy session, let’s first clarify what it actually means to have an existential crisis.

To have an existential crisis means to painfully grapple with our existence and its meaning. People find themselves trying to answer: Why am I here? And, Who am I? It’s the moment when you face the absurdity (and, arguably, inherent meaninglessness) of life. When you start to worry that life is pointless and nothing matters.

I’ve always been a huge Dostoyevsky fan. Dostoyevsky’s characters often face profound despair, self-loathing and loneliness, mirroring the symptoms of an existential crisis. In Notes from Underground, the Underground Man’s intense introspection and alienation highlight the existential dread of confronting one’s existence, freedom, and insignificance in a seemingly indifferent universe.

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