"And Yet It Was a Blessing": The Case for Existential Maturity

J Palliat Med. 2017 Apr;20(4):318-327. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2016.0540. Epub 2017 Jan 27.


We are interested in the kind of well-being that can occur as a person approaches death; we call it "existential maturity." We describe a conceptual model of this state that we felt was realized in an individual case, illustrating the state by describing the case. Our goal is to articulate a generalizable, working model of existential maturity in concepts and terms taken from fundamentals of psychodynamic theory. We hope that a recognizable case and a model-based way of thinking about what was going on can both help guide care that fosters existential maturity and stimulate more theoretical modeling of the state.

Keywords: existential maturity; human development; psychodynamic perspective; terminal illness.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Personal Narrative

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Advance Care Planning
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Existentialism / psychology*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Hospice Care / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / psychology
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Terminally Ill / psychology*