Writing: Meaning Therapy

The Varieties of Self-Transcendence: The Good and the Bad

President’s Report for the Positive Living Newsletter (January 2017). Read the rest of the newsletter here. Recently, I have touted the benefits of self-transcendence (ST) in several publications (e.g., Wong, 2016a, b). Since all things exist in polarity (Wong, 2016c, d), naturally, ST also has its downside. This essay will explore the dark side of ST and suggest ways to prevent it. Examples of Negative Self-Transcendence An estimated 21,500 civilians have been killed in East Aleppo, more than 400,000 refugees have fled Aleppo, and over four million citizens have left Syria. Yet, Syrian President al-Assad, in an interview with the French media, asserted that...

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Proposed Guidelines for Collaborative Research

Why do we need collaborative research? It is needed because of the complex and holistic nature of any human phenomenon. In order to advance the common good, we need to learn from each other and work together towards a better understanding of human experience and behavior (Gergen, 2016; Wong, in press). My Experience in Collaborative Research Personally, I have been involved in various forms of collaborative research efforts for over 30 years. I spent five years as a member of the Panel on Biological and Behavioral Sciences in the National Institute of Mental Health. I also worked as a...

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From Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy to the Four Defining Characteristics of Self-Transcendence

Introduction The present paper continues my earlier presentation on self-transcendence (ST) as a pathway to meaning, virtue, and happiness (Wong, 2016), in which I introduced Viktor Frankl’s (1985) two-factor theory of ST. Here, the same topic of ST is expanded by first providing the basic assumptions of logotherapy, then arguing the need for objective standards for meaning, and finally elaborating the defining characteristics of ST. To begin, here is a common-sense observation—no one can remain at the same spot for life for a variety of reasons, such as developmental and environmental changes, but most importantly because people dream of...

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Syllabus for Meaning-Centered Counseling and Therapy

This course (PSY3070) will be taught Spring 2017 at Saybrook University as part of their Clinical PhD Program. This course provides an introduction to logotherapy and meaning therapy (MT). With meaning as its central organizing construct, MT is an integrative, person-centered, positively-oriented therapy. It is a very flexible and comprehensive approach, because it can be tailor-made to meet individual needs and is capable of integrating diverse therapeutic modalities, such as CBT and existential-phenomenological therapy. Building on the philosophical foundation of logotherapy, this course will introduce the four major meaning-centered intervention strategies: PURE (Purpose, Understanding, Responsibility, and Enjoyment) ABCDE (Acceptance,...

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Self-Transcendence: A Paradoxical Way to Become Your Best

Introduction I propose that the way to become your best self is, paradoxically, to become more selfless. I want to make the case that, in a world of cut-throat competition, the best strategy to survive and prosper for individuals and societies is to give our best in serving each other. In psychological terms, this way of life is called self- transcendence (ST). ST sounds paradoxical and counter-intuitive and may not make sense at first glance because in this individualistic consumer society, self-interest always seems front and centre in our consciousness. From parenting to education, we are ingrained with the...

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Meaning-Centered Approach to Research and Therapy, Second Wave Positive Psychology, and the Future of Humanistic Psychology

Abstract This paper describes six research principles for revitalizing humanistic psychology and impacting mainstream psychology based on Gergen (2016) and DeRobertis (2016). It demonstrates how Wong’s meaning-centered research and therapy is an extension of humanistic-existential psychology and has impacted mainstream psychology indirectly by following six principles. Furthermore, it also shows how Wong’s (2011) second wave positive psychology is able to provide a new humanistic vision to impact mainstream psychology directly. Finally, it argues that humanistic psychology needs to take these six principles seriously by going beyond phenomenological research and replacing a “tribal” mentality with a pluralistic big-tent perspective since...

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Self-Transcendence as the Path to Virtue, Happiness and Meaning

To be presented as Wong, P. T. P. (2016, June). Self-transcendence as the path to virtue, happiness and meaning. Paper presented at the research working group meeting for Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life Project, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. (Funded by the John Templeton Foundation) Abstract In my last presentation (Wong, 2015), I introduced Viktor Frankl’s concept of the meaning dimension as a necessary spiritual orientation for the good life of virtue, happiness, and meaning. I proposed that meaning mindset (Wong, 2012a) represents the cognitive aspect of self-transcendence (ST). Meaning mindset represents a fundamental perspective change from a success orientation to...

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Humanistic Theories of Psychopathology (SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in Psychology)

Published as Wong, P. T. P. (2016). Humanistic theories in psychopathology. In H. L. Miller (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of theory in psychology (pp. 438-441). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Humanistic psychology, which began as a movement against psychoanalysis and behaviorism in the 1950s and 1960s, remains a viable “third force” in psychology, because it provides a unique perspective on mental health and psychopathology. It questions the medical model and the usefulness of the ever-increasing labeling of mental disorders. Instead, it emphasizes the study of the whole person, especially each person’s potentials. It assumes that individuals have the freedom and courage to transcend...

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Logotherapy (SAGE Encyclopedia of Abnormal & Clinical Psychology)

To be published as Wong, P. T. P. (in press). Logotherapy. In A. Wenzel (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of abnormal and clinical psychology (p. 0-0). New York, NY: Sage. This publication was partially supported by the research grant on Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life from the John Templeton Foundation. Logotherapy, founded by neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl (1905-1997), literally means “therapy through meaning.” It rests on three inter-related pillars—freedom of will, will to meaning, and meaning of life—and its main contribution to the therapeutic community is its focus on the vital role of meaning in healing and flourishing....

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