Medard Boss

A Swiss psychotherapist who helped develop the concept of existential psychology.

Medard Boss sought to combine psychology and philosophy, helping to give rise to existential psychology. After graduating from medical school, he trained as a psychiatrist with a specialization in psychoanalysis, using his knowledge of philosophy to help broaden many of the concepts of psychology.

Boss focused much of his career on the concept of enlightenment, or opening of the mind. He believed that mood plays an important role in human relationships and in the ways that people interact with their environments. He was strongly influenced by the work of Freud (who had analyzed Boss early in his career), as well as existential philosophers Ludwig Binswanger (1888–1966) and Martin Heidegger (1889–1976). Perhaps because of the influence of his early psychoanalytic experience, Boss felt that dreams are important, more so than most of his contemporary existential thinkers. What differentiated his interpretation of dreams from those of Freud or Jung, however, was that he believed that dreams create their own message rather than displaying symbols of deeper feelings.

Boss spent much of his career developing a concept he called Daseinsanalysis, from the German word Dasein, meaning being there. Essentially, Boss believed that Dasein was a means of opening the mind and bringing light to a situation. The symbolism of light played an important role in Boss's work: the idea of coming out of the darkness, of illuminating an idea, and ultimately, of enlightenment.

Swiss psychoanalytic psychiatrist Medard Boss.

Swiss psychoanalytic psychiatrist Medard Boss.
(© Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Boss's books include Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology, Psychoanalysis and Dasein Analysis, and The Analysis of Dreams.

See also Dreams ; Existential psychology ; Freud, Sigmund; Jung, Carl.



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Gendlin Online Library. “Phenomenological Concept vs. Phenomenological Method: A Critique of Medard Boss on Dreams.” (accessed September 15, 2015).

International Federation of Daseinsanalysis. “Daseinsanalytic Psychotherapy.” (accessed September 15, 2015).