Ludwig Binswanger


Although he studied psychiatry under Bleuler and Jung, Ludwig Binswanger is best known for his existential beliefs. One of the first psychoanalysts in Switzerland (and a personal friend of Freud), Binswanger combined Heidegger’s phenomenology with Freud’s psychoanalysis.

Binswanger stressed the interconnectedness of people with their environment. We have no existence aside from it. We are responsible for creating our own world design (“Weltanschauntg”). This design can be open or closed, or expansive or constrictive. Stressing the importance of living an authentic life, he proposed three modes of existence: unwelt (around world), mitwelt (with world), and eigenwelt (own world.

He emphasized the here-and-now, rejected determinism, and championed freedom of choice. People should act in their own best interest, Binswanger maintained. We are not a product of heredity or the passive victims of environment. We have the ability to live an authentic life but are responsible for our actions.

Since we are thrown into the world, our “thrownness” determines the limits of our freedom. The circumstances within which we can exercise freedom is called our “ground of existence.” People should seek to grow beyond their limits; it is a process of becoming. Refusing to “become” causes neurotic or psychotic problems.


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