Loss and the meaning of profound feelings of emptiness: a phenomenological clarification

Allan Køster

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPaper uden forlag/tidsskriftForskningpeer review


A consistent theme reported by persons who have suffered a significant loss is the presence of profound feelings of emptiness. These feeling of emptiness should in no way be understood as merely metaphorical, but rather refer to an embodied experience of actual emptiness. In my talk, I explore the experiential structure and meaning of such feelings of emptiness. Specifically, I suggest they have their basis in the phenomenological insight that I am not the direct possessor of my identity, but that selfhood is a phenomenon that can only be sustained through the people, things and places it inhabits. Without these perpetually returning me to myself in everyday life, I would be a dispersed being. Based on this ontology of selfhood, I argue that feelings of emptiness related to loss of a significant other should be understood as a literal emptying of the self through the deprivation of two existential modalities: 1) the intercorporeal integration with the other, and 2) the worldly integration with the other. Hence, consistent with the phenomenological concept of existential feelings, feelings of loss actually are feelings of emptiness.
Publikationsdatoaug. 2019
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2019
BegivenhedISTP: Measured Lives: Theoretical Psychology in an Era of Acceleration - Danish School of Education, Copenhagen, Danmark
Varighed: 19 aug. 201923 aug. 2019


LokationDanish School of Education