Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Existential Shattering

  • Louis HoffmanEmail author
  • Lisa Vallejos
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_200193

The term existential shattering was coined by Tom Greening and initially developed through his teaching and scholarly presentations. The development in the scholarly literature emerged from students and colleagues who began applying and researching the concept (see Hoxie 2013; Vallejos 2015). Existential shattering is the sudden and unexpected dismantling, or shattering, of one’s self-conception and worldview as a consequence of an event or process that the individual has experienced. Existential shattering can be further described as a “devastating, unexpected, irreversible event, a trauma, in which one’s fundamental systems of meaning and relating are irreparably shattered” (Vallejos 2015, p. 6).

Although there is an evident relation with trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), existential shattering should not be reduced to PTSD and, instead, may help distinguish between different types of traumatic reaction (Hoffman et al. 2013). An individual who has experienced...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saybrook UniversityOaklandUSA
  2. 2.The Humanitarian AllianceDenverUSA