Necessary Suffering? - Investigating Existential Suffering in Youth through Everyday Experiences of Bad Conscience




Existence suffering, Youth, Patholocization, Normativity, Bad conscience


The purpose of this article is to develop an account of existential suffering in youth. According to recent studies, a growing amount of young Westerners has come to suffer from mental disorders, stress, and a general lack of well-being. It is suggested however that the massive concern for young people's mental health might risk contributing to an increased pathologization of all kinds of suffering in youth. In continuation hereof the article aims at disclosing a suffering that is not pathological in kind but quite the contrary clings to existence. Based on interviews with three Danish high school students, regarding their experiences of bad conscience in their everyday lives, it is revealed how they suffer from matters conceivable as normative implications of fundamental conditions of existence such as freedom, finitude and the Other. In the end, critical concerns are raised regarding the normative evaluation of existential suffering as a necessity. That is, should we not always be against suffering?


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How to Cite

Meier, J. (2021). Necessary Suffering? - Investigating Existential Suffering in Youth through Everyday Experiences of Bad Conscience. Qualitative Studies, 6(1), 116–141.