מאת פרופ’ דוד גוטמן, אוניברסיטת חיפה, הפקולטה למדעי הרווחה והבריאות, בית הספר לעבודה סוציאלית
פרק ההקדמה שנכתב על ידי גוטמן לספרה החדש של ד”ר טריה שנטל “Adam Where Are You?”.
ד”ר טריה הינה לוגותרפיסטית תלמידתו של פרנקל וההקדמה לספרה החדש מובא כאן באדיבותו של פרופ’ גוטמן. בהקדמה זו מתייחס גוטמן לחשיבותו של הממד האנושי של האדם ובהתייחס לספר העוסק בעקרונות היסוד של המשמעות של להיות בן אנוש.
“Adam Where Are You?” by Dr. Teria Shantall
Despite the remarkable progress of logo-therapy in the past two decades in Russia, Kazakhstan and elsewhere in the world, there is a recognized vacuum in the education of logo-therapists, namely, the neglect of their own spiritual dimension. Shantall’s book fills this vacuum remarkably well. Her book deals with the fundamental principles of what it means to be a human being. And particularly with how a person looks upon the world, whether as a meaningless, or as a meaningful place. For absence of meaning in life makes existence miserable.
This book reflects and enlivens the author’s struggle to turn many meaningless lives into productive and meaningful ones. And her life serves as illustration to this struggle and to its positive outcome.
Shantall’s book is based on her long, rich, and distinguished background in logo therapy, and on her teaching Frankl’s theory and method of logo-therapy in different parts and cultures in the world. She is one of Professor Frankl’s students in
the United States who were fortunate to study under the guidance of the founder of logo-therapy. And this explains her positive and lively approach to the spiritual, philosophical and particularly to the applied aspects of logo-therapy.
As she so convincingly shows, a logo therapist is a human being with strengths and weaknesses similar to his or her clients. This means that a logo therapist is not above the characteristics common to all people. In her lengthy exposition of logo-therapy, she manages to show in great detail how to conduct ourselves so that we may be able to overcome pain, sorrow, frustration, sickness, and even death.
Shantall demonstrates that nobody is beyond hope, beyond redemption. The more one experiences lack of meaning in his or her life, the more he or she may benefit from using logo-therapy to combat feelings of distress and helplessness. As all therapists know, the caring and curing function of logo therapy is vested in establishing a close emotional bond between therapist and client. This bond is called trust. Trust is a central condition of therapy, of all therapy. It plays a crucial role in individual and social well-being.
According to Shantall, trust in the hands of a logo-therapist means recognition and responsibility for the potential of changing a person’s entire life for good or bad. There is an explicit agreement about the expectations of what each party has to do. And if this trust is damaged and lost, then the whole practice is gone. Therefore, both parties should be equally interested in the outcome of the therapeutic work.
The encounters in Shantall’s book between client and therapist are based on the “Socratic Dialogue”. Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher is generally regarded as the “father of ethics”. His method of teaching is commonly known as “midwifery”. Similar to the midwife who helps the mother to give birth, Socrates helped his listeners and students to give birth to the truth that resided in their souls. Socrates used “provocative questions” to elicit answers from his opponents in order to awaken in their hearts a sense of personal responsibility for their attitudes to life and truth.
The “Socratic Dialogue” was developed by Frankl as a helping and teaching technique for the practice of logo-therapy. It teaches the seeker of help how to use his or her power, fantasy, dreams, and caring for another person to find meaning in life. This method is basic in the encounter with a client. When the encounter has a positive value for the client, it leads to trust.
In order to achieve trust, a logo therapist needs to be a person of virtues. As Shantall notes, logo-therapy is based on moral requirements. First and foremost among them are integrity and decency of the practitioner. A logo-therapist must be an individual with honesty and authenticity. For intervening in another person’s life needs courage, wisdom, life experience, and a great measure of responsibility. And above all, a logo therapist must realize that he or she is a worker.
Shantall’s book is a work of love. All works of love benefit the giver and the receiver. Viktor Frankl has said that life revolves around work. People fulfill a meaning when they create something, when thru their work they improve the world. And Voltaire the French philosopher said that, rather than philosophizing about the purpose of life, one has to understand what life demands from all of us, namely work for the sake of other people – not only for my own sake.
There are many books written on the various facets of logo-therapy by well-known logo-therapists. Yet, none gives such detailed account, nor goes to such lengths to demonstrate the actual work requested from the practitioner to advance the well-being of a client.
Shantall built her book mainly on the spiritual dimension of a human being. This dimension, as Frankl said, is the most important among the three dimensions, namely the biological and the psychological dimensions. The spiritual dimension includes wisdom, which in turn is based on freedom of choice that’s unique to human beings. Wisdom is not open to scientific measurements or to analysis. Wisdom can be approached only by philosophy, which in turn deals with personal experience. As Shantall shows in the personal experiences of her own life and in the cases she presents in her book, these lives can’t be repeated, but they can be changed for the better.
She begins each chapter in her book with an exposition of the main subject. This is followed with a discussion of the important concepts contained in the chapter, including case illustrations, and ends with a series of questions that she raises for the reader. The questions provide an opportunity for the reader to verify that she or he has grasped the meaning of that chapter and its implications for his or her own life. This approach to the applied aspect logo-therapy is most valuable and refreshing.
Logo-therapists must help their clients to use inner resources when confronting a difficult challenge. Pain and suffering are integral parts of life. And when suffering is extreme, it can destroy the quality of life. Frankl spoke about suffering as a normal part of human experience in life. He maintained that the human spirit is able to triumph over evil for it is capable of elevating itself to unimagined heights for the sake of another human being one truly loves, or for an idea in which one truly believes.
The subject of pain and suffering is well-known to Shantall from her own personal experience and from her dedicated work with many clients, especially with survivors of the Holocaust, who have suffered a lot. In her book: Life’s meaning in the Face of Suffering, (2002), she emphasizes that suffering is always a challenge. What matters is one’s attitude to pain and suffering.
Logo-therapists need to differentiate between two kinds of pain: Acute and chronic pain. Acute pain may be compared to a venomous snake that attacks you and should be eliminated by all available means. Chronic pain resembles an ox that carries its burden patiently. Chronic pain that’s impossible to eliminate by medicine and psycho-therapeutic intervention must be tolerated. Comforting the sufferer is a human and professional necessity in such cases.
Logo-therapy teaches us that when we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. And we should always remember what Kant the philosopher said, namely, that we should never treat a person merely as a means to an end.
Shantall uses literary sources and especially stories and wisdoms contained in the Old and the New Testament to support her thesis. Stories may be very useful to all therapists. Let’s take for example the Biblical meeting of Jacob with his brother Esau as illustration. According to the story, Jacob stole the rights of the first born from his brother Esau and fled to Babylon. He spent there many years and returned to the Land of Canaan as a rich person. But he had to meet Esau on the way. Jacob was afraid very much that his brother Esau would avenge the wrong he did to him. Thus he prepared for the meeting in three ways: With a prayer, with a gift and with a readiness to fight.
The encounter with a client requires similar preparations by a logo-therapist. The prayer is for strength in facing the client, especially when the client may have unstable and unpredictable, or aggressive and demanding behavior. Contemplation, prayer and planning the appropriate steps how to counteract such behavior can help a lot in the encounter.
The fight resembles the struggle with the client in the search for meaning. It is accompanied by pain that’s inevitable in any encounter. And the gift is a reward. Jacob was rewarded by the angel with whom he struggled throughout the night with a new name, Israel.
A logo-therapist – if successful in the encounter with the client – may gain a different reward: A feeling that the struggle was worth; that something valuable and meaningful has happened; that there is a feeling of change for the better by the client and that the encounter was not in vain. This feeling may be perceived by both client and therapist as a gift, as a turning point, and as a foundation for positive encounters in the future.
Shantall’s book is more than an exposition of logo-therapy. It is more than a description and explanation of logo-therapy’s theory, methods and philosophy. This is a most valuable and much needed book, a welcome addition to the applied aspects of logo-therapy. The book is practice oriented and comprehensive. It clarifies Frankl’s ideas regarding the purpose of all logo-therapeutic work. Her book is well organized and clear.
The focus of this book is on the life-changing impact of Frankl’s meaning-centered approach in counseling and psychotherapy, called Logotherapy. This book seeks to illuminate meaningful interaction between logo-therapist and client in a face-to-face interaction between them, emphasizing the uniqueness of both. This interaction has important ramifications outside the counseling context as well.
Shantall makes it clear that her book is not “religious”, even if it uses some examples from major world religions. Her book is universal in its aim and focus. She supports Frankl’s approach to the place of religion in logo-therapeutic work as explicated in his Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning”. Accordingly, logo-therapists must make a clear differentiation between medical and religious ministry. Logo-therapy is a philosophical and spiritual outlook on life. It refrains from missionary spirit and zeal. Logo-therapy leaves the saving of souls to religious ministry.
Logo-therapy is interested in helping human beings in emotional or mental distress to live responsible and meaningful lives. While logo-therapy is anchored in values, and in spirituality, these do not necessarily have to be religious ones. Logo-therapy leaves to the individual the option for what, to what, or to whom he or she understands himself or herself to be responsible.
Frankl emphasized many times the need to re-humanize medicine. The re-humanization of all psycho-therapies is even more important today in our terror-ridden world. It is the main task of logo-therapy. And Shantall’s book is most valuable in this respect. She elevates humanness in helping people in sickness and distress to a spiritual height.
A great advantage of Shantall’s book is that you don’t have to be a logo-therapist to benefit from reading it. Any reader seeking to enhance the meaning quality of their own lives will find in this kind of therapy a treasure for improving their mental health. This book will help them to navigate successfully the troubled waters of life. This book will enable them to make intelligent and informed decisions about what is valuable and applicable to their situations in life, what appeals to their souls and spirit, and what may give meaning to their own lives.
Shantall’s book will appeal particularly to practicing logo-therapists and to students of logo-therapy at all educational levels, and especially to those holding advanced degrees in academia. Her book will enrich the knowledge base of psychotherapists in religious and pastoral care and counseling too, for it provides a much needed spiritual depth to their professional work.
I am most happy to recommend this book wholeheartedly and without reservations to logo-therapists, to members of the helping professions and to the general public.
David Guttmann PhD, Professor Emeritus,
University of Haifa, Faculty of Welfare and Health Sciences, School of Social Work, Mount Carmel, Israel.