Exploring Existential Meaning

Optimizing Human Development Across the Life Span

Gary T. Reker ,

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Exploring Existential Meaning: Optimizing Human Development Across the Life Span

About the eBook

Cultivating a sense of existential meaning is identified in psychological literature as an important factor in preventing illness, in promoting health, and in successfully adapting to life′s changing circumstances (resiliency as well as recovery). A lack of this sense of meaning, which the editors refer to as "existential vacuum", can form the basis of such disorders and diseases as neurosis, depression, aggression, suicide ideation, and substance abuse. Scholars have studied these relationships for years. But new developments in the field and results of recent qualitative analyses have led to a new focus on how people experience the world and draw meaning from ordinary life. Based on their research over the last ten years, the editors write, "Existential meaning plays a crucial role in moderating the effects of stress oh physical health and psychological well-being…The role of existential meaning at different stages of life, and at points of transition between stages, has much to teach us about optimal human development across the life span." The editors have organized the book into three sections. In the first they and their contributors lay out the foundational models and definitions that are current in the study of existential meaning. Part two emphasizes research methodology, particularly issues relevant to investigation and measurement of questions and experiences of personal meaning (clinical and sociological). The third section offers specific applications of the theories, models, and methodologies presented in the first two parts.
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