Freedom of choice in building the character of a logo therapist

Freedom of choice in building the character of a logo therapist

Paper presented at the International Congress (2019) of Logo therapy and Existential Analysis by Professor David Guttmann PhD, The University of Haifa, Israel.

Introduction

At the past conference on logo therapy last October, I spoke about the traits, values and virtues that logo therapists need to become very good professionals. Today I am going to speak about the subject of freedom of choice to be a person of character, a messenger of Victor Frankl’s spiritual and moral teachings. But first I will tell you a Hasidic story:

Rabbi Heshel once said to his congregation: “It is God’s    will that there be freedom of choice. That is why He has waited until this day. For in the days of the Temple they had the death penalty and whipping, and so there was no freedom. After that Israel had penal codes, so there was still no freedom. But now everyone can sin openly and without shame, and prosper. And so whoever leads a good life today is worthy in the eyes of God, and redemption depends on him” (Buber, 1991, Book Two, p. 116).

Please don’t worry. I have no intention to convert   anybody to Judaism. In any case, a conversion is not possible without the decision of a willing partner. Let me illustrate:

I received my doctorate at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., and after defending my doctoral dissertation I was immediately appointed Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Social Service. I taught there social work, ethics and gerontology 11 years – but I did not convert to Catholicism.

So, going back to the wise words of Rabbi Heshel, in order to lead a worthy life in the eyes of God, one needs to make right and appropriate choices and decisions, for these greatly impact upon an individual’s life as a human being.

Choices are based on our values and perceptions about where they can lead us for good or bad. They are more difficult to make than decisions. Sometimes we are not aware of the consequences of our choices, and may even neglect to consider their impact on our lives. And sometimes we

are in a state of anxiety that paralyzes our thinking process, impairs our logical approach to the problem at hand and contradicts our goal.  

Our choices influence the way we live, how we live, how we would like to live, and for what we would like to live. Let’s take the example of Viktor Frankl: In his Recollections, an Autobiography, Frankl (1997) recalled that for a while he was toying with the idea of specializing in dermatology or obstetrics. But then a student cited a line from Kierkegaard which said: “Don’t despair at wanting to become your authentic self”. This student told

Professor David Guttmann speaks - Moscow
Professor David Guttmann speaks – Moscow

him that he was gifted for psychiatry and he should own up to his talent. And from that moment on Frankl made up his mind that he would no longer avoid his “psychiatric self-actualization”. He also said that having a talent is not enough for becoming a professional. One needs to have an urge, to choose his or her profession. “We must ask ourselves not only what enables a person in his profession, but what motivates him or her”, he said (p. 53). Now let’s speak about:   

The concept of Choice in professional work

Frankl in his book: “The Doctor and the Soul” (1986),    said that for each individual there is a goal unique to that person to attain. Therefore he or she must make a decision how to accomplish what is demanded from that person by life. Fulfilling the role we wish to play while on earth is unique to us, and happens only once in each life situation. Many people are not aware of what is required of them, or are afraid of making that decision.

Helping people to make the most appropriate choice concerning a problem on hand is a complicated process. For values and skills need to be combined together and ethical dilemmas may interfere. The resolution of these is an art in itself. Much depends on the relationship between therapist and client in terms of mutual trust and respect.     

In his world famous book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Frankl (1963) has shown that even in the worst conditions one thing cannot be taken from a human being. This one thing is his freedom to choose. There were choices to make even in the German concentration camps. The prisoner could decide whether he wished to struggle for survival by finding a meaning to his suffering, or to become a victim of the circumstances. That was left for his choice.

Now let’s concentrate on the present. I published several articles in the Journal des Viktor Frankl Institutes. In two of them I compared the attitudes of Frankl and Szondi to fate, choice, suffering and meaning in working with the disabled. I assume that the work of Frankl on these subjects is well-known to you via his book: “The Doctor and the Soul” (1986). Therefore I wish to speak about the work and contribution of Szondi to understanding human behavior. I believe that some of his concepts may be relevant for logo therapists.

Leopold Szondi was born in present-day Slovakia in 1893 and died in Zurich, Switzerland in 1986. He lived the same length of life as Frankl, almost ninety three years. Szondi was a Hungarian psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and professor of psychology. In his 1937 book: “Analysis of Marriages. An attempt at a theory of choice in love”, he laid the foundation of “fate analysis”. The starting assumption of fate analysis is that a person’s life (destiny) unfolds in a series of choices.

Szondi has seen at an early age, in his own family, that choice is directed by the family, by the genetic inheritance, and that this choice shapes the fate of an individual. The influence of the genes is expressed in what Szondi (1996) has termed “the family unconscious”, which contain the aspirations of the ancestors that direct the fate of the offspring by force. This is the basis of his concept of “Forced fate”. “Freely chosen “Selected fate” on the other hand, means that the ego of the offspring is capable of choice and is able to take a stand. The ability of the human being to choose his own fate is seen by Szondi as “directed fatalism” and it has become the cornerstone of his “fate analysis”.

After the German occupation of Hungary, in June 1944, Szondi was deported with his family to Bergen Belsen –   the infamous concentration camp in Germany. Due to his fame as a scientist, he was on the train that American intellectuals paid for a ransom to Adolf Eichmann, transporting some 1600 Jews to that concentration camp. They were released to Switzerland in December 1944. Szondi lived in Zurich the rest of his life and has published many books and essays about his theory of fate analysis and fate psychology. The “Szondi Institute”, erected for him by one of his wealthiest patients, is next to the one for Karl Gustav Jung at Kusnacht near Zurich, in Switzerland.

Szondi is best known for the development and utilization of his psychological tool, the Szondi Test. The original purpose of this test was to prove experimentally his theory about the role of latent recessive genes in influencing our spontaneous choice   reactions. Susan Deri (1949), his collaborator said that, “whether or not one can agree with him in considering this test as being the proper methodology for proving or disproving his theory, the test itself proved itself empirically to be one of the most useful projective technics” (p. 2).

According to Szondi, the fate of man in five major areas of life, namely in love, friendship, occupation, sickness   and death are not predestined. Man is able to choose his fate despite oppressing forces. And whoever is not choosing has no fate. Szondi believed that people are inherently attracted to people similar to them. His theory states that there are specific genes that regulate mate selection, and that individuals with similar genes would seek each other out. 

Szondi’s fate analysis received support from Eric Berne, a famous psychiatrist in the twentieth century, creator of “transactional analysis”. Berne is best known for his book: “Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships” (1964) that sold 5 million copies, and for his continuing book titled: “What Do You Say after You Say Hello? –also called “Fatebook” (1972).      

Berne calls the long range life plan of an individual Fatebook. We plan our Fatebook early in childhood as a reaction to parental pressure and directives. This is the psychological power that drives one towards his destiny irrespective of whether or not he fights it or lives it as his free choice. He also said that it is possible that our minds determine our momentary behavior, yet, the plan is already in place. That is, we choose what will be the character of our spouse; how many children will be born to us; in what kind of bed will we die; who will be present in our last hour of life and etc.. He further states that it is possible that all these will not be good, but we want all these to happen out of our choice and not otherwise. 

The way we say “hello”, our attitude to others is entirely up to us. We choose it. When we greet somebody right by the sound of our voice, this means that we perceive him or her as a person. We enter that person’s life and we give him or her opportunity to enter our life too. And vice versa: How do other persons say hello to us. In almost all Fatebooks the script of “the good boy” and “the bad boy” as well as the “winner” or “loser” changes, but these four roles   almost always are present and sometimes they are mixed. Therefore the role of the therapist is to discover who is who and how the client wishes to be a “winner”, or prefers to continue his former way of life.

Berne hoped that his book would enable both professional and lay people to recognize what he called “junk” in a philosophic sense. This “junk”, meaning all the insults, the frustrations, the pains and the anxieties clogs our heads and prevents us to see that someone is standing or walking nearby and waits to hear our greeting. And in order to recognize the other, to say hello, we have to differentiate and to choose between what is junk and what is not junk and to get rid of all the junk that was accumulated over our life course.

Some twenty years ago I was commissioned by the Israeli defense forces to instruct social workers working with disabled soldiers. I used Szondi’s method of differentiating between cases of “forced fate” and “selected fate” and Frankl’s approach to change. I reported on my work in the long defunct “Journal des Viktor-Frankl Instituts” (1997). And now, with your kind permission, I will present one case for each of these two concepts.

Case 1. Abraham was wounded in the lower parts of his body during the war in 1973. As a result he lost his potency. He remained a bachelor who lived with his mother and didn’t work. He lived in a constant sense of vulnerability and dead end, and lost his will to live. He used to say: “I have spent twenty years of my life in the department of rehabilitation and no one has rehabilitated me”. All efforts undertaken by the social worker assigned to his case were rejected. He was    unable to hold on to any job offered him. He kept blaming this department for all his suffering and failures. Any attempt at making him aware of the choices available to him to make his life meaningful, were rejected. His insistence on being a victim of his “forced fate”, and his unwillingness to make any effort toward his own rehabilitation didn’t bode well for his future.

Case 2.

Benjamin, a high ranking officer in the army, was severely wounded during the war in the early eighties. He left the hospital on two artificial legs, and has made a precedent by returning to his unit – despite his disability – in order to fulfill a commanding post in a combat unit. After several operations he could walk only with crutches. But Benjamin refused to use them. He also rejected the wheel chair and insisted on artificial legs instead. After several months of training he was able to use his artificial legs. He suffered a lot, but refused to take medicines against pain for fear of getting dependent on drugs. He could transfer to civilian life, if he wanted to, but he didn’t look for an easy solution. Instead he took the challenge of coping with the disability. He has proved to himself that with a strong will it is possible to overcome physical disability. And he was at pain seeing so many disabled people who accept their disability without a challenge.

Benjamin’s story of “forced fate” turned into “freely chosen selected fate” is a heroic story. Looking at this story from the perspective of logotherapy, it is evident that the strength of Benjamin sprung from his inner resources. He used his spiritual strength to rise above his physical condition and transcended it, as Frankl said, by his “defiant power of the human spirit” (Frankl, 1986). And thus he was able to be the master of his fate.  

It is customary to say that “time heals every wound”. But this is not so. We heal ourselves when we decide to accept responsibility for our choices and decisions; when we are ready to take risks in choosing our way in life. We heal ourselves when we choose to loosen the reins, let go ourselves, when we feel free to express our attitude toward our past and our present life. Healing concentrates not on rehabilitation, but on discovery, on discovering of our real selves, strengths and values, and on our hope. Healing means ability       to choosing a path and accepting full responsibility for the choice and for the consequences.

The case of Benjamin is a testimony to what one can achieve by the strength of his character. But how to acquire such a character is a most relevant question for logo therapists in our days. I will speak about two types of people that logo therapists can choose from if they wish to become role models for their clients. The two types are: “Majestic Man” and “Man of Faith”.

David Brooks, an American author, published his book: “The Road to Character” two years ago, in 2016. His book was chosen by the New York Times as one of the best in that year. His success was due to his ability to answer the question: How to turn ourselves into good people? His book focuses on the deeper values that should inspire our lives, to rethink our priorities and strive to acquire a moral depth marked by humility.   

Brooks wrote his book, as he said, to save his own soul. His book is about “how some people have cultivated strong characters. It’s about one mindset that people through the centuries have adopted to put iron in their core and to cultivate a wise heart. His book is about humility that’s lacking so badly in our money-grabbing world. His book is about how some people turned humility to virtue” (p. xiii).  

Humility, says Brooks, is “having an accurate   assessment of your own nature and your place in the cosmos. Humility is awareness that you are an underdog in the struggle against your own weakness”   (p.263). Humility means that there is a lot you don’t know. And a lot of what you think you know is distorted or wrong. A humble person understands that each human being has certain talents and certain weaknesses. This understanding is necessary for logo therapists. For sometimes we tend to overestimate our own strength and rationalize our own failures.

Brooks assembled a wide array of speeches and stories from the lives of great personalities to support the central concept in his book: Humility. He claims that a human being must ask whether he lives for his “resume virtues”, for achieving fame and fortune, or for his “eulogy virtues”, that exist in each of us in potential, such as kindness, bravery and honesty, for what people will say at his funeral.

There are many people who cultivate their “resume virtues” raking up impressive accomplishments, and invest too little in their “eulogy virtues”, meaning the strengths of their characters for which they would like to be remembered.

The book that helped Brooks to think about these two sets of virtues was: “The Lonely Man of Faith”. This book was written by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik (2012). The Rabbi wrote his book in the mid- fifties of the past century. It was published in 1965. His book occupies a central position in Jewish existentialist philosophy. He wrote his book to yield a better understanding of ourselves and our commitments. Human experience is multifaceted. Thus the challenges and opportunities of modernity are open to both religious and secular people

Rabbi Soloveitchik analyzes two types of people in the Jewish community and the world at large and emphasizes the place and role of the “Man of Faith”. Men and women are addressed equally in his book. Therefore the word “Man” in the title should be understood as a “person”.

The message in “The Lonely Man of Faith” is universal and refers to any religious faith, not just to Judaism.    The dilemma of faith in the modern world applies to all religions because Modernity poses a dilemma and a challenge to the experience of faith.

The nature of the dilemma can be stated by the words: “I am lonely”. Loneliness is an awareness of one’s uniqueness. To be unique often means to be misunderstood. The central cause of the feeling of loneliness is to be found in the experience of faith itself, says Rabbi Soloveitchik. The man of faith has been a solitary figure throughout the ages.

Pure faith requires unconditional commitment. Each of us can, or rather may do likewise with respect to his or her commitment to Frankl’s logo therapy. In his book, Rabbi Soloveitchik proposes that the two accounts of the creation of man portray two types of man, two human ideals.

One type, termed “Adam 1” is guided by the quest for external social quality attained by control over the environment. This type can be characterized as one with a practical-utilitarian approach to the world. He is career and success-oriented.

“Adam 2”. (Adam in Hebrew means man), is guided by the quest for redemption, that one attains by control over one’s self. He embodies certain moral qualities. And his motto is charity, love and redemption. Our culture nurtures Adam 1 and neglects Adam 2. Modern man has little sympathy toward the humble and refrains from serious and honest self-confrontation.

Adam 1 is a creative type. He wants to conquer the world. He tries to harness the forces of nature to work for him in accordance with his wishes. Adam 2 accepts the transcendental truth and lives by the laws of God. His actions are anchored in a sense of responsibility and readiness to serve. He is humble and yearns for an intimate relationship with God and for solidarity with    fellow men in order to overcome his sense of incompleteness.

The two types of man are based on the stories of the first man created by God. This story is written twice in “Genesis”, in the first two chapters of the Bible. The two accounts of the creation of man differ from each other. The first type of man is called by Rabbi Soloveitchik “Majestic Man” and the second; “Man of Faith”, or Adam 1 and Adam 2.         

Adam 1 illustrates modern man with his quest since ancient times for power and success. His motivation is built on selfish interests. The attitude of Adam 1 to life and to his role in the world is based on what is told in the first chapter in the book of Genesis: “And God said: Let’s make a man in our image and in our likeness and he will rule on the fish in the sea and on the birds in the sky and on all that crawls upon the earth (chapter 1: 28). That is, God commands man to rule on the material world and on everything in it for his benefit.

In chapter 2 of Genesis, we meet a different man, more spiritual, who seeks the highest level of human existence, meaning transcendence above material life.  This man is called by Rabbi Soloveitchik “the Lonely Man of Faith”. His character is based on what is said in chapter 2 in the book of Genesis. Accordingly man was put in the Garden of Eden for two purposes (chapter 2:15): “leshamra ulovdah”. The first word means to guard in Hebrew. It means to have a sense of responsibility in relation to which we have been given. And the word “leovdah” in Hebrew means to work, to cultivate, to develop and to innovate. This is the vision of man in general. He was created to be both a worker and a guard.   

In chapter 1 in Genesis, God creates man in his image, the image of God. The term “image of God” refers to man’s inner endowment for creation. God commands    him to rule on all the creatures in the world and to rule upon himself. A human being must learn how to rule on his instincts, his drives, and his wishes.

In the second story of creation (in chapter 2), woman is created from the rib of man. God created Eve to be   helpmate and complement to man. She was created to be a helper “against him”, so that he will not remain alone in the Garden. The role of Adam 2 is different too. He is commanded to differentiate between what is permitted and what is not, to obey God’s command. That is, we have here the first indication that man is supposed to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong.

The two descriptions about the creation of man emphasize the difference in the role assigned to man    and lead to conflict. For they oppose each other. But, according to Rabbi Soloveitchik, there is a constant dynamic movement between the two. Man is both type A and type B, and the two types are integral parts in the soul of a human being. And man must navigate between them.

Rabbi Soloveitchik further states that we can understand the image of “the Lonely Man of Faith” when we compare him to a messenger. And what characterizes a messenger? First of all, he is born at a given time, at a given historical era and at a given place, and not in another place and time, and under different circumstances. And in order to accept the very idea of a messenger, we must accept what was said before.

The Rabbi claims that the Almighty knows where and how each human being can fulfill his mission. He also knows under what circumstances and conditions and in which community can a person function as a messenger. For it is impossible for someone to perform a role beyond his or her strength. It has no value. And when someone is named a messenger, it behooves one to provide him with an ability to act as a messenger, so that he could fulfill his mission.

Each of us is born for a mission. We differentiate between two types of mission: A general mission and a personal one for each human being. The general mission is set in the “seven laws of Noah” in the book of “Genesis” (9:1-7). “These laws are the biblical universal code of civilized conduct and basis of ethics and form a part of the history and moral consciousness of humankind. They are binding upon Noah and his descendants – on all humanity” (Rabbi Cowen, 2001, p.28). Their aim is to serve God, to observe his commandments, and to be a morally clean man.

The personal mission for each of us is to be righteous and just, kind and true. These are the qualities associated with God in the Psalms (89:15-16).  

Rabbi Soloveitchik says that we should learn from noble and lofty characters, from people whose modesty was exemplary, who did wonderful things for the needy and the weak to become “Men of Faith”. Every therapist, teacher, leader and public servant should take example from Moses in the Bible. His human greatness found its expression in the story about his sister Miriam. She was stricken with leprosy    for spreading malicious gossip about her brother Moses. And he in turn, instead of planning retribution,   prayed to God to heal her from the horrible disease.

It is impossible to find a man like Moses with his moral stance in our days, but we may, or rather should make the necessary effort to come close to his level. A logo therapist should be in some measure a person with a higher vision of the good life and the good society.  

Rabbi Soloveitchik takes issue with the popular notion on religion. Religion does not offer comfort and easy harmony to believers, as mistakenly thought. It does not offer protection from discord, doubts, and fears, but rather forces the true believer to confront these uncomfortable dichotomies with all their crises and torments. Religion demands constant struggle in order to attain spiritual growth. The same can be said about logo therapy. Frankl in his “Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning” (1997) said that religion has more than psychological health and personal satisfaction as its aim. It has a moral dimension and ultimate concerns. “Believing is not just a lack of knowledge. It is something more”.  (Quoted in Klinger’s “When Life Calls out to us” (2001, p.71).

Let me tell you a relevant Hasidic story: “Where is the dwelling of God”? The Rabbi of Kotzk asked some scientists who came to see him. They laughed and mocked him: “What kind of a question! Don’t you know that the whole world is full of His glory? The Rabbi of Kotzk replied: God dwells where He is allowed to enter”. 

We may derive two important conclusions from the book of Rabbi Soloveitchik:

One: The existence of Adam 1 is willed by God. The Rabbi has a positive attitude towards the extension of human dominion through scientific progress and toward the development of culture and civilization.

Two: Adam 2 and his quest for redemption have independent value. The tension in the life of each person is built-in and responsive to this dual call. And because one can never fully realize the goals of Adam 1 and Adam 2, man is burdened by loneliness. This is existential loneliness, an awareness of one’s uniqueness. Frankl was always aware of that kind of loneliness, of being misunderstood at time.

The two types of man are not two different people locked in an external confrontation, but one person who is involved in self-confrontation. The trouble is that contemporary man refuses to pay earnest heed to the duality in man and tries to deny that another Adam exists in him. Both Adam 1 and Adam 2 need to maintain the world, to perfect it and to transcend it. These are both their right and duty. God not only desires the existence of these personality types, but bids each and every person to attempt to embody both.  

And now some words on: Character building in logo therapy: The concept of character has many different meanings. In general terms character means one of the attributes that make up and distinguish an individual; the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves, someone’s personality. Character also refers to moral excellence, to decency, goodness, honesty, integrity, uprightness and virtuousness. Character refers to the complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person. The basis of a person’s character is vested in his knowing of himself. Know your self was a motto inscribed on the wall of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. This maxim is an ancient Greek aphorism. It was expounded upon by Socrates, the great philosopher, from whom Frankl learned a lot. Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth of living.

This maxim may serve as an admonition for newcomers to logo therapy. And those who already practice Frankl’s philosophy and method in their work could benefit from it.  Socrates said that it seems ridiculous to investigate and to know obscure things before knowing yourself… For understanding your self would enable you understanding of others.

Knowing yourself is a most difficult undertaking.  One learns more by studying his self, particularly the feelings that influence his thoughts and motivate his actions, than from books. The Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu said: “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.

In our rapidly changing and expanding technology, people take little time for introspection. This is not helpful to becoming good human beings. Looking at the truth of who you are takes courage, because you might not like what you see… It encourages the individual to fathom the complexity of human experience and to view things and contexts in a wider perspective.

The long road to character, says Brooks (p.262), begins with an accurate understanding of our nature, and the core of that understanding is that we are not flawless     creatures. We have an innate tendency toward selfishness; to see ourselves as the center of the universe, as if everything revolves around us. But we also have the capacity to struggle with ourselves. The struggle against sin and for virtue is the central drama of life. And in the struggle against our weaknesses, humility is the greatest virtue.

Character means steadiness over time. William James, a well-known psychologist in the 19th century said that, character is expressed in freely chosen habits, like holding on to a decision without giving in to temptation to do the opposite, without making exceptions. Many people think that strong discipline builds one’s character. But love too is a tool for achieving the same purpose. Love can be focused on a worthwhile cause or ideal.

Character is built in the course of your inner confrontation. Building character cannot be accomplished out of a cook book. “Character is not innate or automatic. You have to build it with effort and artistry… You won’t achieve enduring external success unless you build a solid moral core. If you don’t have some inner integrity, you will end up in failure”, (Brooks (p.12). But reading about the lives of outstanding people how they built their characters can help. And stories about the lives of people who were able to overcome crises, frustrations, losses and tragedies can provide solace and inspiration to become like them.

Character is built not only thru drama. Everyday life can help in building your character by reaching out to others, by trying to correct errors. It also means recognizing what’s really important in life. For ultimate joys are moral joys. When you try to figure out how to lead your life, the important answers to your questions are found inside of you.

A recurring pattern in the activities that lead to character building is that people with outstanding characters had “to go down in order to go up”. That is, they had to experience great losses, or tragedies, great disappointments and failures in order to rise up from them like the mythological Phoenix bird. We just have to remember Leo Tolstoy’s famous novella, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” (1886) for illustration.  

Ivan Ilyich was a successful product of the moral ecology and social status system of his time, who at age forty-five realizes that he is dying. At his deathbed he understands that all of his social obligations and interests might have been false. “Maybe I did not live as I ought to have done? He suddenly asks himself”.

In Tolstoy’s novella the higher Ivan climbs externally, the farther he sinks internally. He begins to experience the life he had led as a stone falling downward with increasing velocity (Brooks, p. 260).

Ivan Ilyich is depicted by Tolstoy as a man without an inner world until the occasion of his death, when he gets a glimpse of what he should have known all along. And when he fells to the bottom of the hole he sees the light. And it is revealed to him that he could still rectify himself. He asks himself: What is the right thing? And he grew still. Listening…   

The question how to rectify what we have wronged is a matter of time. But we can do it, because we still have time. We can balance our Adam 1 with Adam 2. Some people confuse career with vocation. A career can be freely chosen, unlike a vocation. A person does not choose a vocation. Vocation is a calling. People have no choice in the matter. Take for example Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Prize winning physician. He had his career as a well-known pianist when he heard his calling, when he was summoned by life.  He left his career and literally descended into the jungles of Congo in Africa to devote his life to treating the sick among the natives. In his autobiography titled: “From my life and my thought” (1974), Schweitzer wrote that deep inside we are dual in our nature, like Mr. Jekyll and Doctor Hyde. And the drama is to construct character – an engraved set of disciplined habits – and a disposition to do good…

Man has an inborn duality in his nature, says Szondi: He can adhere to his murderous inclinations, or can use his conscience to recognize this tendency to sin and to contradict it. Man can lead a life in which he aims to become like Moses who struggled with his Cain’s spirit and sin, and came out glorious.

Brooks claims that “it is probably necessary to have one foot in the world of achievement but another foot in a counterculture that is tension with the achievement ethos. It is probable necessary to reassert a balance between Adam I and Adam II and to understand that if anything, Adam II is more important than Adam I.

Logo therapists are ordinary people. And as such they are prone to the same forces and situations that influence people in general. That is, they too can be transformed to be evil people. To be a hero you have to act in a socially positive way. The decision is always personal. It is always up to the individual to choose to be brave or cowardly, honest or deceitful, faithful or disloyal.

The struggle against the weaknesses in you is never a solitary struggle, says Brooks. No character is strong enough to consistently defeat selfishness, pride, greed and self-deception. We live in a moral ecology, in a set of norms, assumptions and beliefs, in an institutionalized set of moral demands that encourages us to be a certain sort of person. We all need people to tell us when we are wrong and to advise how to encourage us to do right. (p. 12).  But above all, we need to answer the most important questions: Toward what should I orient my life? Who am I and what is my nature? How do I mold my nature to make it gradually better day by day? What virtues are the most important to cultivate and what weaknesses should I fear the most? (p. 261).

Brooks offers a “Humility Code” for what to live for and how to live. This Code helps one in traveling the road to character well prepared. It is based on 15 propositions that together form this Code.

Let me cite five propositions from this Code that may help us to know ourselves better:

One: Seek out, listen and gain perspective from the works of great authors and philosophers.

Two: Learn from your past to have better choices to make in the future.

Three: Examine your values. In what you believe will give you great insight as to why you make the choices you make.

Four: Examine your fears: What are those? Why they have a hold on you? And what choices you can make to combat them.

Five: Be open to change. Accept the fact that you are always in the process of change. Expand your horizons. The more you know yourself, the more control you will have in your life.

I wish to end my presentation with a sentence from Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart”, (Brooks, p. xiii).

Thank you

References:

Brooks, D (2015), “The Road to Character“. N.Y.      Random House Trade Paperback

Buber, M. (1991, Book Two). “Tales of the Hasidim“. Foreword by Chaim Potok. New York: Schoken Books Edition.

Deri, S. (1949). Introduction to the Szondi Test, Theory and Practice. N.Y.: Grune & Stratton.

Frankl, V.E. (1997). “Recollections. What’s not written in my books”. Translated from the English to Hebrew by David Guttmann, JTB Publisher, (2005) Israel.

Frankl, V. E. (1967). “The Doctor and the Soul”: From psychotherapy to logotherapy. New York: Bantam Books. Translated from the English to Hebrew by David Guttmann, (Tel Aviv: Dvir Publishing Co., 2009).     

Frankl, V.E. (1963). “Man’s Search for Meaning“: An introduction to logo therapy. New York: Washington Square Press.

Frankl, V. E. (1997). “Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning”. New York: Plenum Press.  

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אודות פרופ' דוד גוטמן

פרופ' דוד גוטמן
דוד גוטמן (נולד בשנת 1932) הוא פרופסור אמריטוס באוניברסיטת חיפה, לשעבר ראש בית הספר לעבודה סוציאלית באוניברסיטת חיפה, מוכר בעולם כמומחה ללוגותרפיה וכידיד אישי של פרופסור ויקטור פרנקל. עסק בהוראה, במחקר, בהכשרה ובייעוץ בלוגותרפיה במשך שנים רבות. כתב, ערך ותרגם עשרים ספרים ופרסם קרוב למאה מאמרים ועבודות מחקר בכתבי עת מקצועיים.

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