Below are 10 Stages in the development and eventual resolution of existential anxiety (A.K.A. "existential angst") as outlined by John Tennison at the inaugural meeting of the Comprehensivist Club ( on February 22, 2003.



            Since everyone is not comfortable with the idea of non-existence of selves, everyone cannot be expected to have a resolution of existential anxiety as a result of concluding that selves have been an illusion all along.  However, readers who are skeptical of the idea of self-as-illusion are referred to Thomas Metzinger’s book, “Being No One.”  Thomas Metzinger is Professor of Philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat Mainz, Germany.  “Being No One” was published in 2003 by the MIT Press.

Antonio and Hanna Damasio, Professors of Neurology, University of Iowa College of Medicine notes, “Being No One is a superb and indispensable book.  Thomas Metzinger’s intelligence, open-minded honesty, and knowledge combine to produce the most complete and satisfying discussion of the problem of self currently available.”

In the opening paragraph to his book, Metzinger writes, “This is a book about consciousness, the phenomenal self, and the first-person perspective.  Its main thesis is that no such things as selves exist in the world:  Nobody ever was or had a self.  All that ever existed were conscious self-models that could not be recognized as models.  The phenomenal self is not a thing, but a process – and the subjective experience of being someone emerges if a conscious information-processing system operates under a transparent self-model.  You are such a system right now, as you read these sentences.  Because you cannot recognize your self-model as a model, it is transparent:  you look right through it.  You don’t see it.  But you see with it.  In other, more metaphorical, words, the central claim of this book is that as you read these lines you constantly confuse yourself with the content of the self-model currently activated by your brain.”

   Dr. Tennison is also interested in any ideas other than non-existence-of-self that might result in the ultimate resolution of existential anxiety.  If you have any ideas that you would like to share, please contact Dr. Tennison at

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