Jolanta Pivorienė, Polina Šedienė


The goal of the article is to reveal experiences of changes the lives of people with chronical psychical disease from existentialism theory perspective. Qualitative research was done in order to answer to these research questions: how changes of lives after the diagnose are experienced by diagnosed people? How do they explain them? Collected data is analysed and interpreted based on analytical induction, by applying theoretical coding according to theoretical definitions of existential dimensions: physical Unwelt, social Mitwelt, personal Eigenwelt and spiritual Überwelt (Emmy va Deurzen,2007; Ernest Spinelli, 2005; Rimas Kočiūnas, 1996). Research data shows that research participants their existential being and changes related to disease are expressing via various dimensions: they construct their personal identity in Eigenwelt dimension which includes personal and intimate relations with themselves and significant others; relations with others and social reality in Mitwelt dimension; relations with physical environment in Umwelt dimension which reveals material and economic well-being contexts; however, spiritual issues stay hidden in the stories of the participants. Research data reveals existential loneliness defined by Jalom (2000), in the participants’ stories when they oppose themselves to others thus increasing isolation between “me” and others. It is important for a person to be listened to, accepted, appreciated. According to May (2001) this strengthens understanding that s/he is meaningful, is a part of humanity, gives pillar for finding meaning in meaningless world. Participants’ stories show alterations in relations with themselves in Eigenwelt dimension when people accept themselves as cureless, dependent, incompatible,“broken”. This could be explained by Jalom (2001) theory which analyse how restricted freedom and responsibility prevent from autonomous existence and self-realization. Participants’ experience in relation with outside world – Umwelt dimension – shows their vulnerability. Loss of working capacity affects person’s dignity and value in a society in which employment is one of the most valuable aspirations. Unsatisfied material, belonging and safety needs in Umwelt dimension affects persons’ with psychical disease relations with themselves (Eigenwelt) and others (Mitwelt). Existential theory describes psychical disease not as a set of symptoms but as the life experience which could be revealed and understood. In analysing person’s relation with various existential categories like freedom, loneliness, finality, meaningless and others, this theory accepts that a person with a disease could life responsible, authentic, valuable and meaningful life.


changes of life, psychical disease, existential theory, existential dimensions of life

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13165/SD-18-16-1-03


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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789