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Existentialists understand anxiety ontologically, as an unavoidable part of our being-in-the-world. It does not require repression, but rather should be embraced since it teaches us to open up to possibilities and find our own inner-voice. The human-being is not perceived mostly as driven, but as suffering and fearful, anxious in the face of awareness. The anxiety takes place not in one’s inner-psychic world, but in his encounter with the external world. Hence, the therapeutic aim is not working on defense mechanisms and inner forces, but expanding the client’s perspective and relatedness to the world.It may seem tempting for both therapist and client to concentrate on eliminating the symptom and supposedly getting rid of anxiety. However, Existentialists see this so called ‘neurotic anxiety’ or ‘pathological’ symptoms as trying to avoid existential anxiety. Since anxiety is a valuable source of information, we should encourage the client to learn what it can teach him, and not eagerly attempt to get rid of it with medication for example. Out of recognizing and accepting the anxiety, the disturbing symptoms will hopefully stop. Tillich (2000) recognized that we should understand anxiety ontologically before we can help our clients deal with it on an ontic level.


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