Logotherapy

PHD Update: Research Proposal Approved

PHD Research proposal approved by the Psychology Department Ethics Committee of University of South Africa, (UNISA)! My thanks to my supervisor Professor Teria Shantall for inspiring me in the first place and for her patience and invaluable advice and to the Department of Psychology for all their help, support and incredibly quick responses. So next year looks like it might be a GO.

“From frozen space to meaning: A psycho-educational intervention among a group of PTSD and/or trauma sufferers based on mindfulness and the work of Viktor Frankl.”

My journey in all ways is towards uncovering/discovering the “great perhaps”. I wrote about aspects of my personal journey here:

https://meaningunfolding.wordpress.com/…/shaking-up-and-gi…/

See also here: https://meaningunfolding.wordpress.com/…/i-go-to-seek-a-gr…/

In the words of Viktor Frankl meaning is unique to you: “…meaning must be found and cannot be given.” It waits for you to unfold it.

#ViktorFrankl #PHD #Trauma #PTSD #Mindfulness #Meaning #Existential #Western Cape #SouthAfrica #Logotherapy #Psycho-Education #UNISA #Psychology

sunrise one morning

How Finding Meaning and Helping Others Helped a PTSD Sufferer

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How Finding Meaning and Helping others Helped a PTSD Sufferer

A post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sufferer, had a sense of doom, of no future, but as a result of getting help with finding meaning and helping others he said:

“I never thought I’d look in the mirror and see a 52 year old staring back. Never dreamed I’d live this long and I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time just waiting for the ax to fall. I think now that if I continue to practice doing that one thing every day that I know in my heart is right, maybe my life will have meant something. Those kids I tutor have taught me a lot about my own family and myself. They know when I’m supposed to arrive and they can’t wait to see me and now I’ve got that with my grandkids. What’s most important for me now is to be there for them, not let them down.”
Logotherapy as an Adjunctive Treatment for Chronic Combat-related PTSD: A Meaning-based Intervention by S. Southwick, R. Gilmartin, P. McDonough, P. Morrissey (AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHOTHERAPY, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2006, 2 p. 172)
Sunday family swimming photo taken by Carol K

Shaking Up and Giving Up | A New Life

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Having encountered Dr Viktor Frankl in studying the Introductory course in Logotherapy at the University of South Africa, (UNISA), in  2012 and meeting Dr Teria Shantall at the workshop, I discovered my own vehicle to unfolding my meaning. At the time I was not sure how this would unfold. I really wanted to become a Logotherapist, but was not in the financial position to continue with the other courses offered at UNISA. In the time since then I have been in the process of paring down, which began with the letting out of my home. I moved in with my sister and then into a tiny “cupboard” as I put my house on the market, sold it and waited for my funds to come through. During this time of waiting and paring down, I worked on a fictional short story: Belongings in the Sand: The Tale of the Red Heeled Shoes, and a small How to Guide on How to Reduce Stress, which I learnt how to publish as an ebook through BookBaby, which is nearing completion and due for submission to BookBaby for distribution.

As I struggled with the confines of the small space and many disruptions and lack of peace and quiet while living in my “cupboard”, I came to the idea to do a PHD to work with sufferers of trauma and PTSD. The underlying inspiration for this came from my relationship with Brett Pelser, who suffered so from depression and what I feel was PTSD. Finally and tragically he committed suicide. The idea also is deeply inspired by Logotherapy and Viktor Frankl. I really feel that trauma sufferers experience an existential crisis, their world no longer makes sense, they have no language to speak this senselessness, this schism in their very being and at the heart of their lives. My journey has taken me across the country to the Western Cape, which has the highest trauma statistics in the country. I have been accepted to do this PHD through UNISA and the Psychology Department. Things are uncertain for me in terms of creating an income to support myself and this study. I am staying in the moment, being positive and looking forward to new opportunities. A new life, a revealing and unfolding, the time is now.

Image of the beach five minutes from my new space. Courtesy Carol Knox.

black and white rain

Work? Optional! – Writing and Trauma Work – Out of the Rain and the Dark and into the Song

singing and triumph

 

Work? Optional! – Writing and Trauma Work – Out of the Rain and the Dark and into the Song

 

If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

Yes, I would work. I would spend my time writing both non-fiction and fiction, especially short stories.

I would also establish a Trauma Practice and work with those who have experienced life traumas of various kinds. Cape Town, South Africa has the highest levels of trauma experiences of various kinds, including PTSD, in the country. I would like to be able to travel to areas that have experienced trauma or disaster and give assistance there. I would use coaching and Logotherapeutic techniques. I would focus on finding meaning and meaning making. Mindfulness and meditation would also be included.

Stress reduction techniques would marry very well with the above.

I see this as my future work.  Out of the rain and the dark and into the song.

Images from Imagicity

Let’s Be Present – The Five Components of Mindful Presence ~ Paul Wong

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According to Paul Wong, there are five components of mindful presence: “openness, compassion, empathy, acceptance and non-judgement.” He also emphasises the importance of the self-regulation skill of mindful awareness.
From Wong in: From Logotherapy to Meaning-Centered Counseling and Therapy.

Header Image purchased at Creative Market – Huge Nature Photo Set. One license only. View cool stuff to buy.

Provocation to Meaning | We are Called

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Provocation to Meaning, (inspired by Langle and Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning)

This formed part of a portfolio for a course on Logotherapy. For Frankl, meaning has an element of a unique demand that is made on us by the situations we find ourselves in over the course of a lifetime. So this kind of turns the idea of “meaning” into something a little different to our usual ideas. It is something with which we enter into a dialogue, in the words of Langle (2003): “the capacity for dialogue is a characteristic of being a person (i.e., a being with mind and spirit and a potential for decision making.” Since we are beings who are dialogical we look for something or someone who “speaks” to us, calls us, needs us, talks to us, looks for us, challenges us. This element of provocation then emerges from everything that confronts, challenges or engages us. This being provoked means we are called.

So then this unique demand or call from a place of value creates a moral imperative to act in a personally responsible and accountable way. Each situation requires that we do or be something. This speaks to our conscience and provokes us to “do the one thing that is required.” Meaning for Frankl is not found like a gold coin under a rock, it is something given to us.

We can think of meaning as unfolded as we live our lives and are provoked to meaning and towards self-transcendence in this meaning. This meaning then is beyond and ahead of us pointing to a future. Frankl once defined meaning as: “a possibility against a background of reality”. [1]

For Frankl conscience is something spiritual and transcendent which has universal and timeless significance. Therefore, it seems to suggest that life’s meaning exists a priori, waiting to be discovered. Perhaps it is enfolded waiting to be opened, (this could also be too much poetic licence here). This makes me think of e. e cummings:

“Somewhere I have never traveled, gladly beyond

any experience, your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

or which I cannot touch because they are too near.

Your slightest look easily will enclose me

though I have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as spring opens

(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose.”[2]

Langle, (2003) talks about a meaningful existence that is characterised by “inner consent” which relates to what we do, commit ourselves to, or leave out. This continuous consensual activity has a two-sided dialogue – one external characterised by questions like: “What appeals to me? What attracts or challenges me? Where am I needed or what do I want to do in this situation?” The other side of this dialogue goes around whether I agree with my decision. If inwardly, I have said yes then there will be harmony between inner experience and outer action.

Let’s look forward with hope then that we are all provoked to meaning to the “most worthwhile (the one of greatest value) and realistic possibility present in a given situation and one for which we feel we should decide. “ (Langle, 2003:19).

A meaningless life by contrast could be filled with trivial pursuits, such as seeking wealth, power, popularity, without an awareness of the richness of meaning. This could be characterised by depression, cruelty, sadism, anger and aggression amongst other things.

How do we experience meaning in life?

In three ways in Frankl’s view:

  1. Goals or projects – creative values
  2. Through love and loved ones – experiential
  3. Through a right attitude to life and the tragic triade: pain, guilt and death – having the right attitude – attitudinal.

[1] In Langle 2003: 34. The Art of Involving the Person.

[2] Reference for Cummings: www.k-b-c.com/poetry_eec.htm (Accessed 05/05/2012).

References:

Frankl, V. (1963). Man’s Search for Meaning.

Langle, A. (2003). The Art of Involving the Person – Fundamental Existential Motivations as the Structure of the Motivational Process. European Psychotherapy, Vol. 4, No. 1.

Image from Creative Market purchased Epilogue Presentation.