My name is Iva Paska. I was always drawn to existential questions such as

Why all of this? 

What is the meaning of life…(considering that…)?How to live in contemporary society?

What is the meaning of certain hard experiences in life? …The question which over time evolved into – Should all experiences be standardized or are they forced to be? What about the interpretation of those experiences society feels are not standardized? 

In the meantime, I have started to look at this as a call and started seeking answers. This web-page is the result of my now already 15-year long search. I am passing on only the content that I found useful. I am trying to stay away from cliche new-age ideas that promise instant happiness and seek instead meaningful knowledge coming from long-standing traditions of mankind, rooted in philosophical and scientific knowledge.

As for me, I hold a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences, the field of Sociology, finished at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana. My sociological interests are intimate relationships from the sociological perspective, the epistemology of mental health and sociology of media. I also finished Transactional Analysis 101. I attended psychoanalytic courses and existential therapy courses at Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb run by Larisa Buhin where I further fell in love with existentialism.

I always felt drawn to existential philosophy, Bateson, systemic work and different ways of thinking about therapy and mental health, but the opportunity of a brief encounter with recovery approaches in 2014. is what opened my horizon in a totally new way and I got acquainted with what I consider constructive and meaning-making ways of thinking and dealing with mental health, especially experiences which do not correlate to mainstream ideas about mental phenomena.

From other trainings, I finished “Logotherapy in Upbringing and Education”, accredited by the Croatian Agency for Upbringing and Education, a DBT Legacy course of the Behavioral Tech Institute and DBT Skills course and I am currently studying NLP with the International Association of the NLP Institutes. In my search and experience, I also look into Zen Buddhism and other Hinduistic influences, combining it with my experience and knowledge.

I have organized Existential circles for a brief period of time, that served as places for existential givens we usually don’t have time or space to address in everyday life – such as meaning or wider exploration of the human condition. I co-organized Feministic circle in Booksa in Zagreb.  I worked for and participated in the work of NGOs in Zagreb and Varaždin dealing with community development and mental health. Currently, I am working at the University North.

I like combining all the things I have learned or experienced within different approaches to provide a meaning-making framework for our experiences.

Why existential?

The question of meaning can come to us in certain times or experiences in life, especially in contemporary society. This society has in its instrumentalization somehow forgot about the human being and his symbolic needs. It often reduces us to production or goal-serving units, and this can bring feelings of anxiety and alienation to the forefront. It can, however, also offer an opportunity to start questioning our experience of life, death, anxiety, suffering, yearning for meaning.

It is social science and humanities that taught me how to think about human contextually. This is also a feature of existentialist tradition. For existentialist tradition, human beings are not just a fixed set of characteristics, but they are also dependent on the context, experience, intentionality, and always in a process. This is how I perceive human beings and this is important when opposed to today’s prevalent view of human beings which is as static and isolated minds of characteristics predefined genetically.

This perspective lacks understanding that we are inevitably always “beings-in-the-world”, to quote Martin Heidegger. This offers totally different perspective on human struggles and meaning. All of my education, struggles, and experiences have put me on a quest for answers which has offered me more freedom and meaning in my existence.

With this website, I aspire to further transfer the ideas and practices that aided me in my quest, hoping that someone else will find them useful as well.

5 Responses

  1. Max Guttman (J PETERS)
    Max Guttman (J PETERS) / 1-21-2021 / ·

    Hi Iva, I have seen some interactions between yourself and my digital media on Facebook and LinkedIn. I have to admit, I never really looked at your interests until after seeing your article surface on Mad in America. That was when I read your bio. At that moment, I knew we were kindred spirits, at least in the way we understand the world and hope to share it with the world through our writing. After, I looked at your blog and read this page solidifying my beliefs that we are indeed kindred spirits. I am wondering if you have looked into my work, specifically, my book, university on watch: the crisis in the academy. Somehow, I think the interpretive eye the narrator uses passes through this shared love of discovering meaning in life. My blog touches on these areas in a more sarcastic flippant way, as the entries are shorter in length than a full-length work. If this message spoke to you, please email me, and maybe we can work together on a project.

  2. Phyll
    Phyll / 1-25-2021 / ·

    Love your philosophy and writings/offerings! Thank you so much!

  3. Li Davis
    Li Davis / 8-24-2021 / ·

    Yes! I have only just begun to read your website. I started with the “About” page. But I was very inspired by reading your article I found in Mad in America, “Finding Meaning in Suffering…”

    I am a 66 year old woman living in California, USA, struggling big time with meaning. This is what really caught me:

    “Your circumstances are uniquely your own. Your origin, your story, the things you’ve seem, the experiences lived and felt – nobody has done that or felt that in that particular way and in that particular manner but you…. what is it that you and only you can offer to the world?…”

    Of course, the rest of the article was part of it as well. I don’t exactly know why, but that, above, is what I needed to hear. I thank you. Yes, thank you!

    I look forward to reading more. I have read some existentialism, but it was challenging. Your “synopsis” (sort of) really got through to me! Thank you again…. Be well.

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