Not So Short Post! Man’s Search For Meaning

24/07/2017 § Leave a comment

The stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. – Bertrand Russell

Light sorrows speak, but deeper ones are dumb. – Seneca

From Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning:

We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life–daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

Life does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete. They form man’s destiny, which is different and unique for each individual. No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny. No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response.Sometimes the situation in which a person finds herself may require her to shape her own fate by action. At other times it is more advantageous for her to make use of an opportunity for contemplation and to realize assets in this way. Sometimes a person may be required simply to accept fate, to bear her cross. Every situation is distinguished by its uniqueness, and there is always only one right answer to the problem posed by the situation at hand.

Everyone has her own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein she cannot be replaced, nor can her life be repeated.

Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now. Are you responsible to society or to your own conscience?

Widen and broaden the visual field of the patient so the whole spectrum of potential meaning becomes conscious and visible. The true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. Being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone other than oneself by giving herself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human she is and the more she actualizes herself.

According to logotherapy, we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.

Logotherapy is not pessimistic but rather activistic. The pessimist resembles a person who observes with fear and sadness that her calendar, from which she daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a person who removes each successive leaf from her calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after having first jotted down a few diary notes on the back.

A given symptom is responded to by a phobia, the phobia triggers the symptom, and the symptom, in turn, reinforces the phobia. A similar chain of events, however, can be observed in obsessive-compulsive cases in which the patient fights the ideas which haunt her. As soon as the patient stops fighting her obsessions and instead tries to ridicule them by dealing with them in an ironical way-by applying paradoxical intention-the vicious circle is cut, the symptom diminishes and finally atrophies.

Anticipatory anxiety has to be counteracted by paradoxical intention; hyper-intention as well as hyper-reflection have to be counteracted by dereflection; dereflection, however, ultimately is not possible except by the patient’s orientation toward her specific vocation and mission in life.

It is not the neurotic’s self-concern, whether pity or contempt, which breaks the circle formation; the cue to cure is self-transcendence.

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