12
Apr
2019

Clinical Perspectives on Meaning

Clinical Perspectives on Meaning

Understanding, Coping and Thriving through Science and Practice

Pninit Russo-Netzer, Stefan E. Schulenberg, and Alexander Batthyany

Listening to the Unheard Cry for Meaning

In former days, people frustrated in their will to meaning would probably have turned to a pastor, priest, or rabbi. Today, they crowd clinics and offices. The psychiatrist, then, fre-quently finds himself in an embarrassing situation, for he now is confronted with human problems rather than with specific clinical symptoms. Man’s search for a meaning is not pathological, but rather the surest sign of being truly human. Even if this search is frus-trated, it cannot be considered a sign of disease. It is spiritual distress, not mental disease. How should the clinician respond to this challenge? Traditionally, he is not prepared to cope with this situation in any but medical terms. Thus he is forced to conceive of the problem as something pathological. Furthermore, he induces his patient to interpret his plight as a sick-ness to be cured rather than as a challenge to be met. By so doing, the doctor robs the patient of the potential fruits of his spiritual struggle. (Frankl, 1973, p. 93)

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Chapter Clinical Perspectives on meaning