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The Table Video

Lynn Underwood& Array Array

The Potential Of Meaning-Making In Suffering

Senior Research Scholar, Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University
Professor of Psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University
June 9, 2017

The Potential Of Meaning-Making In Suffering


Because we are so prone to want to mitigate or eliminate suffering in the lives of those we deeply care for, and yet we’re willing to admit a certain amount of suffering into our own lives, what do you both think about what that says about the use of suffering, or the meaning of it, its importance, at a psychological level?

We have our own phenomenological experience of having had suffering. So there’s a sense whether we’ve articulated it or not of how it has contributed to us becoming the people that we have become, right? And so I think that whether we have made that connection or not, there’s a fear that if we lose that, we will lose certain important things that have developed in us over the years. I think that might be the connection.

With somebody else, we don’t have their phenomenology, right? And so the suffering might feel a little bit more like this kind of LEGO piece that we can kind of pull out without affecting the whole. But we can’t do that with ourselves. Suffering is part our stories. It’s part of our narratives of our lives, of our identity.