Existential Validation

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone


From early infancy, humans want to be recognized.  It comes with the cry for hunger, for comfort, for attention.  It comes with a smile at two months of age.  It comes with the need for recognition, to be loved, to be attended.  This need for recognition is a lifetime need.  Some individuals need it more than others.  In teens, we see it in girls who have discolored purple, green and yellow hair; in boys, their trousers fall, exposing the “split” slightly above the rectum. An equal gender attention device is defiance of parents, demanding adult privileges without responsibilities. In schoolchildren they are the tykes who gain attention by being the class clown. There is of course the positive and sometimes not so positive attention getter:  The student who receives the excellent marks; the one who dresses meticulously; the one who frequently raises his/her hand in class; the one who interrupts the teacher and/or plays teacher’s helper or interpreter.

            We know some of the persons who received the greatest attention and who live on in our minds even after they are no longer on earth.  There are innumerable examples of these, for good and for evil:  Adolf Hitler is the most notable super “Rosche” that will forever live in the minds of those who were his still living victims and their descendants; he appears in the history books and is used as an example of the most evil creature that ever lived on this earth.  There are and were the dictators and terrorists of various regions and countries like Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, the “Ayatollah” (a “Tole” whose name befits him), and a host of others too numerous to list here.  There are the famous authors who have written and published great books; the famous scientists, of which Einstein is the most prominent example.  There are folks who have changed the planet by their great minds. The famous musicians and artists must not here be excluded:  Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Goethe, Schiller, Rembrandt, Strauss and many, many more!

            Looking specifically at our Jewish greats, there are musicians, statesmen, authors, freedom fighters and hosts of notables including Einstein. We find Theodor Herzl,  Menachem Begin, Jonas Salk, Chaim Weitzmann, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Sigmund Freud, Louis Brandeis, Irving Berlin, etc.

           There are the so called deviants who pride themselves on being special, on being different.  They can be the idiot savants who can do extremely difficult tasks.  Their talent seems to be a part of their very fiber.  They can do mathematics / computations in split seconds without putting in any apparent effort into their talents.

           As we can see by the examples listed, we humans, deliberately or otherwise, have the need to be noticed, to have our existence validated, to be a part of the human race!  We need sustenance physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  We do not live by bread alone!


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of  Deviant Nurses & Improper Patient Care (2006).

Home ] Up ]