Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves. Viktor E. Frankl.
by Dr .José Martínez-Romero Gandos
Contrary to man in the past that kept traditions and ethical regulations to live by, men of today lacks instincts that they say to him what to do. Not knowing which way to take, the person can fall in the temptation of doing what the others do or wish to do (conformity) or what the others impose (totalitarianism). A third risk, however, is to develop what the well-known XX c., Viennese neurologist, psychiatrist and psychotherapist Viktor E. Frankl - creator of called Third School of Vienna: the Logotherapy - called noögenic neurosis.
To differentiate noögenic neurosis from neurosis “in strict sense” is essential for the conflicts that the former develops are conflicts from conscience, confrontation with values and intense existential frustration. Can an existentially frustrated man be helped to find meaning in his life? It is widely thought that maybe it is too late in this globalized world in crisis, immersed in existential emptiness. However, Logotherapists among other mental health professionals, firmly believe it is never too late.
Economic pressures, recession, structural poverty and crisis against growing existential frustration arising from a consumer society that is success oriented, competitive, lacking in opportunities, especially in the area of work, demands not a globalized perspective but a holistic approach to help discover man´s true needs and provide for the development of his essential condition: being an individual. The key to avoid falling into existential emptiness, profusion of addictions, increase of diseases of all types and wars is Solidarity. It is thus stated that each person is unique and unrepeatable, free and responsible to choose about his future and self- transcendence, always and under any circumstance.
Frankl used to say that existential frustration is not self-evident but latent. Existential emptiness is in larval stage and hidden behind several masks. One of them is depression. Not the one that arises from suffering, inability to provide food for their children or the loss of a beloved one; the one that comes from the realization of a life without meaning. The depression of the rich and powerful executives who despite being immersed in intense social, cultural and sporting activities, to repress their will to meaning for the search of a lot of money and power.
“The life of the common man as well as that of the one who suffers stills holds meaning IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING”. This is affirmed by Viktor Frankl who among other hard difficulties survived from 1942 to 1945 in various Nazi concentration camps included Auschwitz and Dachau. According to his views the man is capable of transforming into service any situation that, speaking humanly, does not have any exit. Man is able to transform a situation that humanly speaking has no way out into service.
It’s essential to seek “healing“ under the care of another. That “another” can be brother, friend, son, partner. Often this company is the real springboard that gets man back into the meaning path. Transcendence of existence is accepted; suffering is overcome and hope is reclaimed. When this is not possible, when he cannot cope with these difficulties and redirect grief to someone or something to love, is necessary a contact with a doctor, a counsellor, a logotherapist, a psychologist or a religious man.
Today´s challenge is to build a system in which solidarity is the centre. Such solidarity will not only prevent psychopathological problems arousing from deep feelings of loneliness caused by this globalized society but also monitor the appearance of disturbed behavior that prevents living life in its fullness and may alter social and family interaction.
Getting a deep insight into the spiritual nature of a human being; relieving the distress of the finiteness of one life self-transcending; internalising that life is granted to be lived at full despite adverse circumstances and even in the worst moments, finding a new meaning according to ours values, may us help to move a step forward towards the reencounter with the meaning of life because, as previously I said, life always has it.
The author is PhD. in Psychology, Logotherapist and disciple of the creator of the so- called Third School of Vienna: the Logotherapy: Dr Viktor E. Frankl.