Suffering (PSY 303)

Course Description

This course will explore all aspects of suffering including the impact of suffering on individuals and the people around them. Lectures will review how the world’s major religions understand suffering, how despair and suicide arise from suffering, how atheists view suffering, and how to help people who are suffering, along with helping the helpers. The class will also consider how to discover meaning in suffering and what it means to achieve acceptance. Students will explore the role emotions play in suffering and the qualities that are important for helpers. Additionally, we will review behaviors that contribute to the suffering of others. Finally, practical techniques and strategies to address suffering are reviewed.

Course Modules

Module 1: Introduction

Module 2: Despair and Suicide

Module 3: Major Religions on Suffering I

Module 4: Major Religions on Suffering II

Module 5: Atheistic Approaches to Suffering

Module 6: The Discovery of Meaning in Suffering

Module 7: Helping Those Who are Suffering: Supporting the Caregivers

Module 8: Radical Acceptance: Fate and Destiny

Module 9: The Role of Emotions in Suffering

Module 10: A Practicum of Techniques to Heal Suffering

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will be able to:

CLO 1: explain the psychological effects of suffering.
CLO 2: analyze how these effects of suffering may lead to personal transformation and growth.
CLO 3: articulate the idea and experience of suffering through the lens of major world religions.
CLO 4: apply academic research on suffering.
CLO 5: evaluate a transitional approach to suffering that is associated with various tribal cultures.
CLO 6: apply knowledge of the process of transformation through suffering.
CLO 7: analyze the motivations of individuals who help those who suffer, as well as the motivations of those providing support to caregivers.
CLO 8: articulate the concept of “radical acceptance” (Simone Weil) and the spiritual practices that are required to achieve it.
CLO 9: analyze 3 practical approaches to suffering (e.g., psychotherapy, EMDR, EFT, journaling, “feelings letters” and guided imagery).