The Purpose in Life Test is a survey designed to measure a person’s meaning and purpose in life and give it a rating. It is a 20-question questionnaire that rates each answer on a 7-point scale. The total score is given in a range from 20 to 140, 20 being low purpose and 140 being high purpose. If someone scores a low rating, it can indicate that they have little life satisfaction, they do not value their life as important, they do not think life has much meaning, and they may have considered suicide. People who fall within this category often are those who abuse drugs and alcohol and those who have serious mental health concerns. Conversely, those who score high on the Purpose in Life test have a good level of psychological and physical well being; they often have clear goals and intentions and value their life and those around them.
Purpose in life is a multi-faceted construct that refers to the value and purpose in life, life goals and spirituality. To have a purpose in life means that someone positively values their own existence, they have life satisfaction and an awareness of others. To have a positive purpose in life indicates that someone values their own life, the lives of those around them and believe that they contribute in a meaningful and significant way to the community.
Purpose refers to a tendency to derive meaning from life’s experiences and to have intention and goals that drive behavior. Researchers have found that if someone has a purpose in life, it can contribute to better health outcomes.
The Purpose in Life Test was developed in the 1960’s by Crumbaugh and Maholick who designed it as a tool to measure a persons meaning and purpose in life. It was developed originally as a tool for use in logotherapy. Logotherapy is a theory developed by Dr Viktor E Frankl who was a pioneering psychiatrist and a Nazi concentration camp survivor. Logotherapy is based in the belief that the primary motivational force in humans is to find a meaning in life.
The principles of logotherapy are as follows:
* Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
* The main motivation for living is the will to find meaning in life.
* That people have freedom to find meaning in what they do, experience or the stand they take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.
The test aims to measure this meaning or purpose in life and give it a score. A negative meaning in life, motivation for life or values will mean a person will experience an emptiness in life, or as Frankl describes, an existential vacuum. Having a positive sense of meaning or purpose in life means an individual has a sense of the self and motivation to live and achieve.
Research has shown that individuals who abuse alcohol and other drugs are likely to score a low Purpose in Life rating. Frankl hypothesized in his development of logotherapy, that addiction is at least partially related to a feeling of meaninglessness or lack of purpose. A low Purpose in Life score indicates that someone fits into this category and is experiencing this hopelessness.
Addiction to alcohol or other drugs indicates that someone is experiencing unhappiness due to their lack of motivation, their inability to deal with negative circumstances and an absence of life goals. The alcoholic uses alcohol as a way to relieve the pain they are experiencing and to feel some sort of pleasure. According to Frankl, these people fit into the existential vacuum and are experiencing an emptiness in their life and are using substances to fill the void.
Improving an individual’s outlook on life, their purpose in life, can contribute to positive health outcomes. A person who is abusing alcohol as a way to ignore personal problems, their lack of direction or even significant health problems can improve through treatment. Treating alcoholism not only will improve the physical well being of an individual but it will contribute to a more positive purpose in life, a clearer meaning. Some recovering alcoholics have found that spirituality has significantly changed their meaning in life and helped them to find their life direction. By having clear, concise and meaningful goals in life, a person is less likely to abuse alcohol as a way to feel something, or hide hopelessness.
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