Resilience & Logotherapy

CBD Counselling places a significant emphasis on strengthening the quality of one’s own resilience to adversity. Resilience & Logotherapy go essentially had-in-hand, and primarily focus on four areas, including ’emotional’, ‘cognitive and mental’, ‘physical’, and ‘spiritual’ resilience. Learning a new approach in these areas can improve one’s resiliency to life’s inevitable challenges and hardships, enhance one’s quality of life and decrease one’s stress and anxiety by teaching new ways to view such challenges as opportunities.

Resilience may be said to be a quality hard-wired within each of us in order to fortify against tragedies inevitable in life. Indeed, adversity is a fact of life.

Resilience is thus an ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before, often stronger. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise again.

Viktor Frankl, a neuropsychiatrist and founder of ‘Logotheraphy’, survived the torture of Nazi concentration camps. In subsequent writings he observed:

A traumatic experience is always negative, but what happens as a result of it depends on the person. It’s in our hands whether we want to stand up again, come back to life once more out of our ashes, in an astonishing victory. Or, on the other hand, to just sit and stew, to crumble…

Resiliency does not mean, however, that a person is unaffected by a traumatic or otherwise life changing event. Resilience does not mean impervious; we are after all human and thus susceptible to wide range of emotions including those which are primary, ‘happiness’, ‘sadness’, ‘fear’, ‘disgust’, ‘anger’, ‘surprise’, and ‘grief’. Thus, feeling sad doesn’t mean one is not resilient; being stuck in the sadness is where there may be a problem. Resilience, makes it possible to live with sadness in our lives without being overwhelmed by it all of the time.

The concept of resilience & logotherapy is increasingly being studied by psychology and mental health researchers in order to better understand how individuals adapt under significant stress. Resilience is understood to be an interplay between an individual and the individual’s environment; indeed, a resilient person is generally able to use internal and external protective factors to deal with environmental stressors.

Internal protective factors include ’emotional intelligence’, ‘problem-solving skills’ and the ‘ability to tolerate distress’, while the primary external protective factor is the presence of a positive support system. Thus, a person who is resilient may be able to bounce back without significant difficulty after a particularly traumatic situation.

It is thought that resilience is at the core of survival; it is a primordial quality present in all human beings. Sadly, it is a quality often over-looked in preference of a quick fix solution, medication for example. Of course medication in many circumstances is necessary, but, it might not result in a sustainable healthy solution to one’s mental health problems. For example, taking a sleeping tablet to help you sleep is significantly easier than learning new strategies on how to sleep. Evidence shows that sleep produced from medication does not provide the health benefits of natural sleep.

Hardship and adversity is how we learn from adversity which is at the core of human development. Until we reach our limits, we don’t know how to overcome them until we experience our greatest fears; we don’t know our own courage. Indeed, the duality of adversity and resilience shapes our very existence, which is a core philosophy of Logotherapy.

A bit about Viktor Frankl the father of Logotherapy

Viktor Emil Frankl was born on March 26, 1905 in Vienna, Austria. He received his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Vienna where he studied psychiatry and neurology, focusing on the areas of suicide and depression.

The term Logo is derived from a Greek word which denotes “meaning”, “reason. Aristotle applied the term to refer to “reasoned discourse” which makes it possible for man to perceive and make clear to others through reasoned discourse the difference between what is advantageous and what is harmful, between what is just and what is unjust, and between what is good and what is evil.

Resilience & Logotherapy focuses on the meaning of human existence as well as on man’s search for such a meaning. According to Logotherapy doctrine, this striving to find meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man; that is to say, on the meanings to be fulfilled by one in his future. Logotherapy, indeed, is a meaning-centred psychotherapy. At the same time, Logotherapy defocuses all the viscous-circle formations and feedback mechanisms which play such a great role in the development of neuroses, thus, the typical self-centredness of the neurotic is broken up instead of being continually fostered and reinforced. It is to find purpose in one’s life; that purpose, once found, could be the key to one’s will to meaning in times of despair.

Indeed, man’s will to meaning can also be frustrated, in which case Logotherapy speaks of ‘existential frustration’. The term ‘existential’ may be used in three ways: to refer to (1) existence itself, i.e., the specifically human mode of being; (2) the meaning of existence; and (3) the striving to find a concrete meaning in personal existence, that is to say, the will to meaning.

Existential frustration can also result in neuroses (mental disorder that causes a sense of distress and deficit in functioning). For this type of neuroses, Logotherapy has coined the term ‘noögenic neurosis’ in contrast to neurosis in the traditional sense of the word, i.e., psychogenic neurosis. Noögenic neuroses have their origin not in psychological but rather in the noölogical (from the Greek word noös meaning ‘mind’) dimension of human existence. This is another logotherapeutic term which denotes anything pertaining to the specifically human dimension.

In contrast to Freud’s and Adler’s ‘depth psychology’ which emphasises delving into an individual’s past and his or her unconscious instincts and desires, Dr Frankl practiced ‘height psychology’ which focuses on a person’s future and his or her conscious decisions and actions. His approach to psychotherapy stressed the importance of helping people to reach new heights of personal meaning through transcendence: the application of positive effort, technique, acceptance of limitations, and wise decisions. His goal was to provoke people into realising that they could and should exercise their capacity for choice to achieve their goals.

Some famous observations of Doctor Frankl’s are:

  • When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”
  • Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
  • What is to give light must endure burning”
  • “I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love”
  • “The last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances”
  • “Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible”
  • “A human being is a deciding being”
  • “Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time”
  • “Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”

Doctor Frankl died of heart failure in Vienna on 2 September 1997.

Author: Charles Pratten

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