An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions if their life has "meaning, purpose, or value. It may be commonly, but not necessarily, tied to depression or inevitably negative speculations on purpose in life. (e.g., "if one day I will be forgotten, what is the point of all of my work?") This issue of the meaning and purpose of human "existence is a major focus of the "philosophical tradition of "existentialism.
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An existential crisis is often provoked by a significant event in the person's life—psychological trauma, marriage, separation, major loss, the death of a loved one, a life-threatening experience, a new love partner, psychoactive drug use, adult children leaving home, reaching a personally significant age (turning 16, turning 40, etc.), etc. Usually, it provokes the sufferer's "introspection about personal mortality, thus revealing the "psychological repression of said awareness.["citation needed]
An existential crisis may resemble "anomie (a personal condition resulting from a lack of "norms) or a "midlife crisis. An existential crisis may stem from one's new perception of life and existence. Analogously, existentialism posits that a person can and does define the meaning and purpose of his or her life, and therefore must choose to resolve the crisis of "existence.["citation needed]
In existentialist philosophy, the term 'existential crisis' specifically relates to the crisis of the individual when they realize that they must always define their own lives through the choices they make. The existential crisis occurs when one recognizes that even the decision to either refrain from action or withhold assent to a particular choice is, in itself, a choice. In other words, humankind is "condemned" to freedom.
Existential crisis has often been negatively associated with "depression.
"Peter Wessel Zapffe, a "Norwegian "philosopher and adherent of "nihilism and "antinatalism, asserted in his book, "The Last Messiah, four ways that he believed all "self-conscious beings use in order to cope with their apprehension of indifference and absurdity in existence, comprising "anchoring", "isolation", "distraction", and "sublimation":
In the 19th century, "Kierkegaard considered that "angst and existential despair would appear when an inherited or borrowed world-view (often of a collective nature) proved unable to handle unexpected and extreme life-experiences. "Nietzsche extended his views to suggest that the "Death of God—the loss of collective faith in religion and traditional morality—created a more widespread existential crisis for the philosophically aware.
Existential crisis has indeed been seen as the inevitable accompaniment of "modernism (c.1890–1945). Whereas "Durkheim saw individual crises as the byproduct of social pathology and a (partial) lack of collective norms, others have seen existentialism as arising more broadly from the modernist crisis of the loss of meaning throughout the modern world. Its twin answers were either a religion revivified by the experience of anomie (as with "Martin Buber), or an individualistic existentialism based on facing directly the absurd contingency of human fate within a meaningless and alien universe, as with "Sartre and "Camus.
"Irvin Yalom, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University has made fundamental contributions to the field of "existential psychotherapy. "Rollo May is another of the founders of this approach.
"Fredric Jameson has suggested that "postmodernism, with its saturation of social space by a visual consumer culture, has replaced the modernist angst of the traditional subject, and with it the existential crisis of old, by a new social pathology of flattened affect and a fragmented subject.