Existential therapy

Existential therapy in the context of criminology asserts that in the root of offenders' experience usually lies an existential inner void or an insatiable gorge, which represents, inter alia, a separation and isolation from others (Shoham & Addad, 2004). In accord with positive criminology, recovery is achieved by a movement towards the other, with an integration and unification force. Existentialism also decrees that in order to reach authenticity an individual has to extricate oneself from the fetters of the generalized other, and that life priorities should not be arranged according to the expectations of others, but according to the inner self and the discovery of the potentials of revelation and creativity inherent within this inner self.

The existentialist treatment is designed first of all to help the client discover the inner authentic existence and to counter with this inner authenticity the outward hardships and threats. Therefore, the stages of existentialist therapy are (1) to discard the tendency to comply with social norms without examining their adequacy in order for the realization of the potential of the client to discover the capacity for revelation and creativity; (2) for the client to extricate herself/ himself from the positive feedback of the surroundings to succeed at all costs. The client has to realize that the I-It relationship with the surroundings will never let one go out of the fetters of the generalized other. Hence she or he has to strive to reach an I-Thou (Following Buber) relationship with the surroundings and relevant others.

An individual has to realize that while being thrown into the world, in the words of Heidegger, with anxiety and dread, he or she is imbued with initial pain, but then this pain can be sublimated into creativity, with depth and inner meaning.