I find it perpetually fascinating how letting things go brings things into focus.
Last year I reached a major decision point. I discarded a very long-held dream of becoming a counsellor in favour of focussing on writing. (You can read about that here.) However, that in no way detracts from the training I do have. Part of that training is an Intermediate Certificate in Logotherapy – which is as far as one can go in Logotherapy training without being a professional counsellor. It’s a suitable level of training for use in day-to-day nursing and interaction with people. And it’s a suitable level of training for druids.
I have ruthlessly discarded workbooks related to that course, but I still have a folder of work – written-up case studies and assignments – and I still have a good collection of books by Viktor Frankl and other important writers in the field. I also still have the presentation I gave at an International Palliative Care Conference in Cape Town in 2005. For some reason, I’m not entirely sure why, I shared a link to that presentation with my work manager last year. Then, in a discussion with colleagues about how we can make waiting times for patients destined for surgery more relaxing and pleasant, I brought up the subject of Logotherapy again.
By now, if you haven’t already Googled it, you’ll be saying, “for goodness’ sake! What IS Logotherapy? Never heard of it! How the heck did logos ever help anyone except with branding?”
Logotherapy is meaning-centred therapy or healing through meaning. “Logo” comes from the Greek, “logos” which translates as “word”or “meaning”. Dr Viktor Frankl had a full manuscript hidden in the lining of his coat when he was incarcerated for being Jewish during the Second World War. He lost his manuscript, but managed to rewrite his ideas on scraps of paper smuggled to him by fellow prisoners, and from those scribbled notes he wrote The Doctor and the Soul. He is probably best known for his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which describes his holocaust experience. Logotherapy is existential. It addresses matters of the spirit, not just the mind.
I can workshop the basic concepts of Logotherapy for my colleagues. It’s not just an adjunct therapy for counsellors to use, but is an adjunct frame of reference for life. It’s certainly enmeshed in mine, which brings me to the next thing: becoming a Logo-druid.
So much of druidry is awash with meaning-making. One of the roots of druid-wisdom is the Triads. An example, plucked from Druid Triads: Virtues to Live By:
“Three things resemble each other: a bright sword which rusts from longstaying in the scabbard, bright water which stinks from long standing, and wisdom which is dead from long disuse.”
Frankl had a tendency to set out his concepts in threes:
Logotherapy is founded on three tenets:
- Freedom of Will – the concept that human beings have free choice. Even when circumstances are restrictive there is still the freedom to choose one’s attitude
- Will to Meaning – this is deemed the primary motivation for living. This is well illustrated by the despair an individual experiences when meaning is hard to find.
- Meaning of Life – Life is unconditionally meaningful. We cannot question Life, but Life questions us, asking how we will respond.
Meaning is to be found through the realisation of values. Frankl described three particular groups of values:
- Creative Values – we find meaning through exercising our talents and learning skills. Great meaning can be found through art, or solving a problem. Developing our individual potential to the full falls under this category.
- Experiential Values – Here meaning is found through relationships – experiencing the other – as well as through religion and experiences of nature. The ultimate experiential value is love.
- Attitudinal Values – Frankl describes finding meaning in unavoidable suffering as the noblest and deepest of the three. The attitude a person may choose in the face of suffering may become the highest achievement.
Frankl spoke of the unavoidable Tragic Triad which we all face:
For me, this is a springboard and an invitation to explore how druidry, as I live and experience it, ties in with logotherapeutic living. It’s something I want to explore and make notes about.
Thus, the interesting thing about letting go of the counselling ideal: Before, using my training in Logotherapy hung on completing further training in counselling and then the Advanced Diploma in Logotherapy. Now, I can focus on taking what I have and exploring the “living’ ideal instead, and if somehow what I discover helps others with their living in the end, that will be a bonus.
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