The Future of Logotherapy
We live in an age with a more modern outlook than previous centuries; however, the speed of science and technology does not give the contemporary human the sense of control one always has been seeking . I believe our continuous progress in science and technology, is making us psychologically weaker and more nervous; rather than giving us power and tranquility! A hundred years ago, humans did not imagine that one day people could track every second of the changes of the other side of the world, and be able to make decisions based on that. Surely a hundred years from now, the world will be totally different than what it is today, in terms of technology and science. This progress has an effect on humans’ assumption of utopia. Yesterday, the utopia was a town with no hunger, and today's utopia is still a world without hunger! Although the human kind seems to be in progress, he/she appears lost and miserable. Having some time with your "self" is not as easy as having an online conference with VIP's of an international company! This predicament makes me pay more attention to the message of Victor Frankl's Logotherapy “search of the meaning.”
I think Dr. Frankl's emphasis on the meaningfulness of one's life, is not a sign of his ingenuity; it is rather the effect of life under the worst conditions in the concentration camps. Maybe in search of a way to get rid of the complications of the materialistic world, mankind needed to put a number of people in a situation as hard as those camps so that a person could stand up and recall everybody back to their meaningful selves and lives. Frankl's emphasis on "meaning", alongside the "free will" of the human, had an accomplishment: "one should accept the responsibility of his/her choices and decisions". The future of Logotherapy depends of the efforts of psychotherapists for the survival of the young tree that has been planted by Frankl in the desperate life of the contemporary human. They cannot ignore the meaning of life in their therapeutic sessions.
The emphasis on meaning can also be found in religion, mysticism, philosophy, and poetry. Logotherapy delivers the same message; however, the difference between those schools of thought and psychotherapy is in the work of the therapist which should include everybody from any background who is asking help in their services. The future of Logotherapy can be seen in several therapeutic schools of thought. Since we live in the time of integrative treatments, with the eyes focused on the etymology of the disorders rather than treating the signs and symptoms, the combination of a meaning oriented therapy with other psychotherapies is necessary. I would like to further add that the combination of Logotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy is also necessary.
Although many of the psychotherapeutic treatments in today's scientific atmosphere are under the influence of laboratories and casualty seeking researches, in such a way that "mater" (brain and neurons) find a special weight in the research projects, Victor Frankl emphasis on three dimensions of human's existence (body, mind and spirit) gave a considerable weight to the meaning-oriented requirements of human and treatments of mental disorders. May be this is the effect of Logotherapy and existential analysis at universities and clinics that prevents the psychiatrist to look at their patients like a veterinarian, and as a result prevents psychologists to act like a nurse. We are doing a different job at our career under the shelter of "meaning".
I think Logotherapy has the role of a cane in the hands of other treatments. When we find the irrational beliefs, or cognitive errors, of the patient and challenge his thoughts, we should help him/her to answer the question of "so what"!? Sometimes we experience no changes in the mood of our clients after we finish the CBT with him/her. I believe it is now the turn of Logotherapy to pull out the deepest questions of the patient and confront him/her with that essential question, "Why?" It seems that when human is facing the calamities it is Logotherapy that is confronting the human kind with his/her essence. It is not confronting them with their function (cognition, behavior, emotion), but with their existence. It seems as though Logotherapy gives them the opportunity to truly face themselves, so they can pull themselves out of the gearwheel of industry and materialism, and give them a compass to avoid gettting lost again. Thus it is only then that humans will not lose their way towards meaning, and will move forward positively. Whether poor or reach, hungry or full, they will not get lost.
How would you use Logotherapy in building Character or in modulating Personality?
When people talk about “personality of someone” they refer to that side of the being which has been formed throughout the years, which is a firm personal quality that represents the determined fate of the person. So, in people’s eye a person dealing with a special character or living with specific Personality features means less freedom in change. Building character or modulating Personality, firstly calls for correcting this mind set. At the cornerstone of the change process are choice and will. Educating the clients is the second step, teaching new thought processes, new patterns of habits and responsibilities, inspired from Logotherapy principals, all together are essential in building character or making Personality.
Helping people with antisocial personality disorder requires a focus on the consequences of their choices, finding the meaning of their life to get motivated for a permanent change in their life. Helping people with dependent personality disorder requires a focus on the meaning and responsibility for their own life. I think explaining the defiant power of spirit needs to get elaborated in helping people with dependent personality disorder. Approaching to borderline personality disorder, we should apply a series of value realization; also we can help the patient to search for meaning. I feel the therapist can have a significant impact on the treatment of borderline personality, if they stay there as a reliable person, who makes the permanent understanding of the patient’s emotions and thoughts. Building such a reliable relationship is a source of meaning for this group of patients.
Logotherapy opens a door toward freedom of will and a search of meaning. These components are the gateways toward permanent changes in life, even if the personality is not healthy it doesn’t mean disordered personality is the ultimate fate. If the person is motivated in change, his or her inclination to a purposeful life is the best starting point of the treatment. The strategy would be educational based while the reliable clinician- patient relationship is the main feature of the treatment in making a specific character or modulating the personality.
It is interesting that the new DSM-5 classification regarding personality disorders is moving towards considering a normal aspect of personality "to search and have a meaning and purpose in life." For Viktor Frankl personality includes the dimension of the spirit, and therefore there is an element of freedom in how the person responds to personality traits. Activities or circumstances in life contribute to building character which may have a knock on effect on personality through the somatic or psychological dimensions. For Elisabeth Lukas rather than an antagonism between character and personality there is a dialog or dialectic among them. This is similar to the dialectic between training and education, since training does not necessarily involve the spiritual freedom of the subject. Training is more akin to "building character," whereas education involves all the capacities of the person including the spiritual dimension and the responsibility attached to free decisions, and therefore closer to the concept of "modulating personality." At the core of the symptoms of personality disorders there are the conditions of inflicting suffering to themselves or others (social dysfunction). With logotherapy we are aiming at bringing awareness of the freedom of choice and therefore the responsibility in acting or behaving according to the personality traits or fighting against them through the free will. Once the person becomes aware of this capacity to decide not to inflict suffering on themselves or others, the person is on the road to achieve emotional self-regulation.
The following diagram shows the connections between character and personality:
bio-psycho-social === character (training)
bio-psycho-spiritual === personality (education)