Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 59 Issue 2 (June 1986), Pages 113-203

‘To Be or Not To Be’— anxiety following bereavement (pages 149-156)

This paper is concerned with existential anxiety, as elaborated by Paul Tillich. It is related to and distinguished from neurotic anxiety. The paper is in four sections: (1) a brief historical background of the development of existentialism with particular reference to Heidegger; (2) a discussion of Tillich' thought regarding three basic forms of anxiety associated with death, meaninglessness and condemnation; (3) a description and discussion of the experiences of a young woman with extreme anxiety; (4) a consideration of the case in the light of Tillich' propositions suggests that, although more familiar psychodynamic theories go some way towards understanding her symptoms, fundamental to her distress and important in therapy were basic, existential anxieties.

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