1Licensed Psychologist in Private PracticeDr. Erik Craig is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He studied independently for several years each with Clark Moustakas, Paul Stern, and Medard Boss. He has been teaching and practicing humanistic and existential psychotherapy for over 40 years, holding full time faculty positions at Assumption College, University of New Mexico, and Pacifica Graduate Institute. Since 2004, he has been studying Eastern approaches to depth psychotherapy, especially Tao Psychotherapy, with the South Korean psychiatrist, Prof. Dr. Rhee Dongshick in Seoul, South Korea. His primary interest is in developing phenomenological hermeneutic grounds for understanding critical issues in psychological theory, research, and practice with the hope of achieving a comprehensive, existential approach to depth psychology and psychotherapy. He lectures widely both in the United States and abroad and his many articles have been published in seven languages. Erik served as the editor of two groundbreaking special issues of The Humanistic Psychologist, entitled Psychotherapy for Freedom: The Daseinsanalytic Way in Psychology and Psychoanalysis (1988) and Depth, Death and Dialogue: New Inquiries in Existential Depth Psychotherapy (2008). He is currently the secretary for the New Mexico Psychoanalytic Society and chapter representative to APA's Division for Psychoanalysis. Erik is a past president of APA's Division 32 (Society for Humanistic Psychology) and of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.
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This article is based on a keynote address for the First International Conference on East-West Existential Psychology held in Nanjing, China in April of 2010. The article combines aspects of the originally prepared paper with aspects of the actual presentation, which was largely an extemporaneous exposition of the Chinese characters for existence, cún zàiSymbol. The article begins with an overview of the meaning and development of the discipline of existential psychology and psychotherapy as an approach to psychology that is committed to investigating and understanding the human as human. It then proceeds to a hermeneutic analysis of cúm zài, explicating ontological insights regarding the nature and meaning of human existence: Namely, the that or facticity of human existence, the whence or the origin of human existence, and the how or the structure of human existence as being-in-the-world. Although the article is grounded in a phenomenological, ontological discourse, corresponding ontical discourse focuses on the significance of ontological insights for the everyday meaning and practice of existential psychology and psychotherapy. The article also defines and discusses the discipline and the démarche of existential psychotherapy as well as their relationship to actual psychotherapeutic practice. Within this context, the question of the nature of psychotherapy as a technical or a human activity is raised and discussed in both theoretical and practical terms. Extensive notes discuss complex historical and philosophical issues clarifying, supporting, and amplifying matters discussed in the text.