Ludwig BinswangerApril 13, 1881 - February 5, 1966) is considered the founder of existential psychology.
Ludwig Binswanger was born in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, into a family well established in medicine and psychiatric studies. His grandfather, also named Ludwig, founded Bellevue Sanatorium in Kreuzlingen in 1857. His uncle, Otto Binswanger, discovered an Alzheimer-like disease called Binswanger's Disease, and was one of Friedrich Nietzsche's doctors.
Jung introduced Binswanger to Sigmund Freud in 1907.
In 1911, like his father and grandfather before him, Binswanger was appointed chief medical director at Bellevue Sanatorium in Kreuzlingen. The following year, he became ill and received a visit from Freud; it was a friendship which lasted until Freud's death in 1939.
In the early 1920s, Binswanger became interested in the work of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Martin Buber, and turned increasingly towards an existential rather than Freudian perspective, so that by the early 1930s he had become the first existential therapist.
In 1956, Binswanger stepped down from his position at Bellevue after 45 years as its chief medical director.
In an influential essay published in 1963 entitled "Verstiegenheit" he introduced the concept of "anthropological proportion" and "disproportion".
Binswanger begins his essay by stating:
"Human existence projects itself in breadth, and in height; it not only strides forth, but also mounts upward. In both respects, therefore, it is possible for human existence to go too far, to become Extravagant."
The German word "Verstiegenheit" is commonly translated as "Extravagance", but in Binswanger's conception it involves not just "extravagance" but, in the words of literary scholar Harold Bloom, also means "wandering beyond limits, clambering out on the precipice beyond which, unaided, you cannot get back."
- Binswanger, L., J. Needleman (Trans.) Being-in the-World: Selected papers of Ludwig Binswanger, New York: Basic Books, 1963.