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Four Existential Fears Brought On By the Pandemic with Daryl & Sara Van Tongeren

  • Broadcast in Psychology
A Fine Time for Healing

A Fine Time for Healing


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As the nation struggles to get control of the COVID-19 outbreak, millions of men and women are experiencing what today's special guests Daryl and Sara Van Tongeren call, "existential suffering."

Daryl and Sara, authors of the book The Courage to Suffer, are experts in treating this form of psychological trauma; trauma that occurs when people are hit with a crisis so severe that they can no longer depend on the ideas, beliefs, and expectations that previously guided their lives. It is a period of intense inner turmoil in which people question the very meaning of their existence.

Millions are going through this right now with the COVID-19 pandemic. As Daryl and Sara point out, the pandemic is taking such a psychological toll because it amplifies the four main fears that contribute to existential suffering: groundlessness, isolation, identity, and death.

The Van Tongerens are here to suggest several practices that anyone can do to get a handle on these fears and ultimately flourish despite them.

Daryl Van Tongeren, PhD, is an associate professsor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He is a social psychologist and has published over 150 scholarly articles and chapters on topics such as meaning in life, religion, virtues, relationships and well-being.He is currently an associate editor for The Journal of Positive Psychology and consulting editor for two other publications.

Sara Showalter Van Tongeren, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker in the states of Michigan and Virginia. She has more than twelve years of clinical social work experience in settings such as private practice, foster care, inpatient hospitals, outpatient medical clinics, interpartner violence shelters, and behavioral health.Sara specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, existential psychotherapy, and more.