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Q: what does existential vacuum mean in detail? [viktor frankl]- NEED BY 3/11/04 ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: what does existential vacuum mean in detail? [viktor frankl]- NEED BY 3/11/04
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: rpabla-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 10 Mar 2004 17:13 PST
Expires: 09 Apr 2004 18:13 PDT
Question ID: 315508
URGENT- what does existential vacuum mean in detail? [viktor frankl]-
need response by 3/11/04- 5PM
Subject: Re: what does existential vacuum mean in detail? [viktor frankl]- NEED BY 3/11/04
Answered By: easterangel-ga on 10 Mar 2004 18:56 PST
Hi! Thanks for the question.

I have found the following articles discussing the topic of
?existential vacuum?. Whenever appropriate, I will provide small
snippets from the articles but I highly recommend that you read them
in their entirety to get a better grasp of the subject.

?Existential Vacuum - (from NDE) The psychological condition in which
a person doubts that life has any meaning. This new neurosis is
characterized by loss of interest and lack of initiative. According to
Viktor Frankl, the existential vacuum is apparently a concomitant of
industrialization. When neither instinct nor social tradition direct
man toward what he ought to do, soon he will not even know what he
wants to do, and the existential vacuum results.?

?Because of social pressure, individualism is rejected by most people
in favor of conformity. Thus the individual relies mainly upon the
actions of others and neglects the meaning of his own personal life.
Hence he sees his own life as meaningless and falls into the
?existential vacuum? feeling inner void. Progressive automation causes
increasing alcoholism, juvenile delinquency, and suicide.?

?Existentialism: Definitions? 

From Viktor Frankl:

?The existential vacuum is a widespread phenomenon of the twentieth
century. This is understandable; it may be due to a two fold loss
which man has had to undergo since he became a truly human being. At
the beginning of human history, man lost some of the basic animal
instincts in which an animal's behavior is imbedded and by which it is
secured. Such security, like Paradise, is closed to man forever; man
has to make choices. In addition to this, however, man bas suffered
another loss in his more recent development inasmuch as the traditions
which buttressed his behavior are now rapidly diminishing. No instinct
tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what be ought
to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead,
he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does
what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism).?


?An existential vacuum is a term associated with the thought of Viktor
Frankl. An existential vacuum exists when one's life is empty of
meaning. It is as if existence has a large hole in it that cannot be
filled. Demoralization is the conviction that life is worthless. It is
obviously similar to depression. However, in depression, there is
often the core thought, "I am worthless." In demoralization, the core
thought is likely to be, "Life is worthless." And this includes all
lives, not only one's own. The depressed person has a depleted
psychological and emotional 'bank account'. The demoralized person is,
so to speak, 'emotionally bankrupt'.?

?Introduction to Symptoms of Meaninglessness? 

?One of his favorite metaphors is the existential vacuum.  If meaning
is what we desire, then meaninglessness is a hole, an emptiness, in
our lives. Whenever you have a vacuum, of course, things rush in to
fill it.  Frankl suggests that one of the most conspicuous signs of
existential vacuum in our society is boredom.  He points out how often
people, when they finally have the time to do what they want, don?t
seem to want to do anything!  People go into a tailspin when they
retire; students get drunk every weekend; we submerge ourselves in
passive entertainment every evening.  The "Sunday neurosis," he calls

?So we attempt to fill our existential vacuums with ?stuff? that,
because it provides some satisfaction, we hope will provide ultimate
satisfaction as well:  We might try to fill our lives with pleasure,
eating beyond all necessity, having promiscuous sex, living ?the high
life;? or we might seek power, especially the power represented by
monetary success; or we might fill our lives with ?busy-ness,?
conformity, conventionality; or we might fill the vacuum with anger
and hatred and spend our days attempting to destroy what we think is
hurting us.  We might also fill our lives with certain neurotic
?vicious cycles,? such as obsession with germs and cleanliness, or
fear-driven obsession with a phobic object.  The defining quality of
these vicious cycles is that, whatever we do, it is never enough.?


?For Frankl, one common experience in modern life is "EXISTENTIAL
VACUUM" -- an enduring, pervasive pattern of existential frustration,
where one experiences one's life as being mostly empty and

-- ?the biggest symptom of this is BOREDOM.? 

?In Frankl's view, our modern social situation helps foster existential vacuum.? 

-- ?the older, more traditional meanings are on the decline:? 

-- ?animal instincts? 

-- ?traditions, such as religion, family, community?

?Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning ? 

?Existential vacuum or dilemma arises from the spiritual or meaning
dimension. Meaninglessness comes from a lack of spiritual meaning. If
an individual person fails to relate God, then he/she experiences an
existential crisis that is an existential vacuum or meaninglessness.
In order to overcome the problem of existential vacuum, the person
should transcend him/herself to have spiritual meaning. But the
concept of transcendence is different from that of other scholars who
see the concept as something beyond the self. Frankl sees the concept
of transcendence within the mind, and not beyond the mind. Hence, to
encounter God in the unconsciousness is a transcendental reality for


Finally a discussion about ?existential vacuum? will not be complete
without reading over articles about Frankl?s concept of LOGOTHERAPY.




Search strategy used:
Introduction overview glossary papers "existential vacuum"

I hope these links would help you in your research. Before rating this
answer, please ask for a clarification if you have a question or if
you would need further information.
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Request for Answer Clarification by rpabla-ga on 11 Mar 2004 10:00 PST
sorry, I should have been more specific. i need an answer to these
four questions dealing with existential vacuum.

1. What are the causes of this lack of meaning/ sense of emptiness?

2. Why is is worse than the United States? -- Deals with Viktor Frankl
working with Europeons

3. How can we recover meaning to our lives?

4. Whar can be done about it?

All of the questions link back fo Viktor Frankl and his existential vacuum.



Clarification of Answer by easterangel-ga on 11 Mar 2004 16:56 PST
Hi rpabla-ga!

In regards to the original question above, I have already answered
your question. Most of the new questions you presented were also
answered as well in the previous articles. However here are some of
additional information in answer to your clarification.

1. What are the causes of this lack of meaning/ sense of emptiness?

Again the causes of this lack meaning stems primarily from boredom.
Other causes are the following:

?In Frankl's view, our modern social situation helps foster existential vacuum.? 

-- ?the older, more traditional meanings are on the decline:? 

-- ?animal instincts? 

-- ?traditions, such as religion, family, community?

?Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning ? 

2. Why is is worse than the United States? -- Deals with Viktor Frankl
working with Europeans

I was not able to find statistics for Europe but it really seems
prevalent in the US as attributed by psychologist to so much emphasis
on materialism.

"Hyper-materialism also features prominently in the emerging plague of
existential disorders' such as chronic boredom, ennui, jadedness,
purposelessness, meaninglessness and alienation. Surveys of therapists
reveal that 40 per cent of Americans seeking psychotherapy today
suffer from these and other complaints, often referred to as
all-pervasive 'psychic deadness'. Once materialism becomes the
epicenter of one's life it can be hard to feel any more alive than the
lifeless objects that litter the consumer world. In a recent study of
US university students, 81 per cent of them reported feeling in an
'existential vacuum'."

"And children are on the frontlines of the consumer blitz. An average
eight-year-old in the US can list 30 popular brand names. More than 90
per cent of 13-year-old girls in one survey listed shopping as their
favorite pastime, followed by TV watching. In 1968 US children aged
4-12 spent around $2 billion a year; today they spend nearly $30
billion. And savvy marketers now concentrate on 'cradle-to-grave'
indoctrination strategies."

"Dead Zone - the monster of American consumer culture"

3. How can we recover meaning to our lives?

"Therapeutic Recreation can be an effective intervention for
individuals to find meaning in their lives. Frankl suggests that there
are three avenues by which a person can go about finding meaning.
These can be summarized as doing something meaningful or creating
something meaningful, experiencing something or someone i.e. a
meaningful relationship, and last of all, facing a difficult situation
that we cannot change and making the best of it (Frankl, 1997, p.

"Man?s Search For Ultimate Meaning"

4. Whar can be done about it?

Logotherapy is advised by Frankl for people suffering from existetial
vacuum. In answer to your question in #3, some psychologists also
suggest Therapeutic Recreation.


I hope this would be useful for you.

There are no comments at this time.

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