• Simone Kjær Svarre
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
Hope is a term which in many ways seems well know; it is not only reserved to science but is also a part of our everyday speech, religious life and in the media. Hope therefore seems diffuse and hard to describe. Over the years hope has gone from a negative interpretation as illusory and deceptive to a more positive interpretation today as life-giving and vital.

This thesis is a theoretical exploration of the term hope. First of all, it examines hope as a psychological term and secondly how hope influences the lived life of the individual. The exploration rests upon two psychological theories represented by the German/Danish/American developmental psychologist Erik H. Erikson (1902-1994) and the American psychologist Charles R. Snyder (1944-2006) along with philosophy written by the French philosopher Gabriel H. Marcel (1889-1973). Existential psychology is the theoretical scientific approach which has influenced this thesis’ evaluation of the understandings and descriptions of hope by the three theories. Marcel’s philosophy of hope is part of this thesis because existential psychology uses both psychology and philosophy as sources in exploring how individuals come to terms with human existence.

The differences between Erikson’s, Snyder’s and Marcel’s understanding of how hope emerges, what hope is and how it dies are analysed in this thesis. It shows how hope can be interpreted e.g. as inherent or external of the individual as well as individualistic or inter- personal. The three theories show that hope is a complex term to describe. This thesis finds that a psychological understanding of hope is not limited to Erikson’s understanding of hope, Snyder’s Hope Theory or Marcel’s philosophy of hope alone. Every theory has its limitations and contributions. Therefore, they each and in combination provide valuable insight into what hope is and how hope influences the lived life of the individual. Below I will give examples of this.

Erikson sees hope as inherent, dependent upon developing through a secure attachment to the caregiver, a vital virtue to survive psychologically, and the motivation to adapt or change life. This thesis argues that Erikson reduces hope in his understanding of hope as inherent in the individual compared to Marcel’s understanding of hope as transcendent. How- ever, Erikson provides insight into the duality of hope; how hope helps the individual to adjust and reconcile with life as it is or hope as a force which motivates the individual to try and change its life. This thesis argues that Marcel and Snyder risks overlooking the meaning of hope as respectively a driving force of change or hope as acceptance and adaption, when they focus on only one part of it.

Snyder understands hope as part of the individual, cognition and goal achievement and his Hope Model gives knowledge about hopeful thinking. In this thesis, I argue that Snyder’s definition and specification of hope also reduces it. He risks overlooking the meaning of hope as relational and transcendent when he describes it as individualistic, rational and fixed upon goal achievement.

On the other hand, is the existential philosopher Marcel who rejects defining hope and describes it as a complex mystery. Marcel understands hope as life-giving and vital for the individual where hope is experienced and received through living life together with others. Marcel distinguishes between hope as dependent upon an object e.g. recovery and the absolute hope which transcends time and circumstances. Erikson is describing how hope can develop from being dependent upon an object to becoming an established hope. Snyder, on the other hand, I criticize for overlooking the possibility of the absolute hope when he understands hope as only being dependent upon goal(achievement) and the individual’s ability to pathways thinking and agency thinking. Marcel’s philosophy of hope brings a different view of how hope is understood as spiritual, transcendent, dependent on living life in relationships with others and a gift to be received or declined. In this thesis I argue that Marcel risks to exclude some individuals from receiving hope if they do not have the courage or surplus of energy to live life accessibly with other individuals, because Marcel argues that hope is received through living life together with others.

As described, this thesis is a discussion about how Erikson’s, Snyder’s and Marcel’s understanding of hope is describing the same term and how the three theories contribute to a theoretical and psychological exploration of hope and how hope influences the lived life of the individual.
LanguageDanish
Publication dateJun 2020
Number of pages79
ID: 333157464