Sunday, February 10, 2013
Some excerpts from the Introduction of The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy by Viktor E. Frankl:
* This will-to-meaning is the most human phenomenon of all, since an animal certainly never worries about the meaning of its existence. Yet psychotherapy would turn this will-to-meaning into a human frailty, a neurotic complex. A therapist who ignores man's spiritual side, and is thus forced to ignore the will-to-meaning, is giving away one of his most valuable assets. For it is to this will that a psychotherapist should appeal. Again and again we have seen that an appeal to continue life, to survive the most unfavorable circumstances, can be made only when such survival appears to have a meaning. that meaning must be specific and personal, a meaning which can be realized by this one person alone.
* I believe there is no such thing as psychotherapy unconcerned with values, only one that is blind to values.
* Men can give meaning to their lives by realizing what I call creative values, by achieving tasks. But they can also give meaning to their lives by realizing experiential values, by experiencing the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, or by knowing one single human being in all his uniqueness. And to experience one human being as unique means to love him.
But even a man who finds himself in the greatest distress, in which neither activity nor creativity can bring values to life, nor experience give meaning to it — even such a man can still give his life a meaning by the way he faces his fate, his distress. By taking his unavoidable suffering upon himself he may yet realize values.
Thus, life has meaning to the last breath. For the possibility of realizing values by the very attitude with which we face our unchangeable suffering — this possibility exists to the very last moment. I call such values attitudinal values. The right kind of suffering — facing your fate without flinching — is the highest achievement that has been granted to man.
* I have said that man should not ask what he may expect from life, but should rather understand that life expects something from him.
* While the collectivist ignores his own personality, the fanatic ignores that of the other man, the man who thinks differently. Only his own opinion is valid. In reality, his opinions are those of the group and he does not really have them; his opinions have him.
* Freud once said: "Man is not only often much more immoral than he believes, but also much more moral than he thinks." I should like to add that he is often much more religious than he suspects.