I derived this thread from the "NT" thread (also in General Psychology), where someone made a reference to the experience of an existential crisis.
Wikipedia description: snippet about Existentialism
Focus on concrete existence.
Existentialist thinkers focus on the question of concrete human existence and the conditions of this existence rather than hypothesizing a human essence, stressing that the human essence is determined through life choices. However, even though the concrete individual existence must have priority in existentialism, certain conditions are commonly held to be "endemic" to human existence.
What these conditions are is better understood in light of the meaning of the word "existence," which comes from the Latin "existere," meaning "to stand out." Man exists in a state of distance from the world that he nonetheless remains in the midst of. This distance is what enables man to project meaning into the disinterested world of in-itselfs. This projected meaning remains fragile, constantly facing breakdown for any reason — from a tragedy to a particularly insightful moment. In such a breakdown, we are put face to face with the naked meaninglessness of the world, and the results can be devastating.
It is in relation to the concept of the devastating awareness of meaninglessness that Albert Camus claimed that "there is only one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide" in his The Myth of Sisyphus. Although "prescriptions" against the possibly deleterious consequences of these kinds of encounters vary, from Kierkegaard's religious "stage" to Camus' insistence on persevering in spite of absurdity, the concern with helping people avoid living their lives in ways that put them in the perpetual danger of having everything meaningful break down is common to most existentialist philosophers.The possibility of having everything meaningful breakdown poses a threat of quietism, which is inherently against the existentialist philosophy.
Wikipedia description: Existential crisis (aka "What's the point?")
Existential crisis, derived from existentialism, is a stage of development at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether their life has any meaning, purpose or value; whether their parents, teachers, and loved ones truly act in their best interest; whether the values they have been taught have any merit; and whether their religious upbringing may or may not be founded in reality.
An existential crisis may result from:
The sense of being alone and isolated in the world;
A new found grasp or appreciation of one's mortality;
Believing that one's life has no purpose or external meaning; or
Awareness of one's freedom and the consequences of accepting or rejecting that freedom.
Existential crisis is often provoked by a significant event in the person's life — marriage, separation, major loss, the death of a loved one; a life-threatening experience; psycho-active drug use; adult children leaving home; reaching a personally-significant age (turning 30, turning 40, etc.), etc. Usually, it provokes the sufferer's introspection about personal mortality, thus revealing the psychological repression of said awareness.
Existential crisis may resemble anomie (a personal condition resulting from a lack of norms) or a midlife crisis. Sometimes, an existential crisis stems from a person's new perception of life and existence.
When a person faces the paradox of believing his or her life important, whilst perceiving that human existence is meaningless and without purpose, cognitive dissonance occurs, overcoming many innate psychological and cultural defense mechanisms.
Analogously, existentialism posits that a person can and does define the meaning and purpose of his or her life, hence must choose to resolve the crisis of existence. The terminal synthesis of the crisis most often results in the appreciation of the only true treasure in the world: the inherent self. Thus the resolution produces an insight to the core moral and ethical values intrinsic to our species, made far stronger by shaping in the external world, and now with the strength, judgment and confidence of character to resist the imposition of codes of others.
Personal note: Experiencing an existential crisis or having such thoughts does not mean a person is depressed, per se. It means that the person lacks a firm center to work with and is faced with uncertainty.
Are some of you prone to considering such thoughts?
Are some of you prone to frequently experience an existential CRISIS?
How major is it? How long does it last?
How often does it occur in your life, what makes it come to the surface, what effects does it have on you / your life, how do you deal with it?
Any further feelings or thoughts on this topic?