“For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
This beautiful statement and sentiment was written by Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl in his memoir, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Frankl was a famous Austrian Neurologist and Psychiatrist and the founder of Logotherapy, a form of therapy based on his three-year imprisonment in various concentration camps during World War II.
In his book, Frankl reflects on why some men were able to survive the emotional and physical abuse of the camps while others seemed to give up and perish. For Frankl, the answer was this: those who persevered in the most terrible of circumstances were the ones who decided they had a reason to live. These men were the ones who had a sense of meaning in their life-of love, of hope. Central to Frankl’s philosophy is one’s freedom to choose how one will frame one’s suffering and how one creates meaning out of those experiences. Frankl asserted, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Frankl found his strength as he thought of his wife and his love for her. His love for his partner sustained him through the worst of times and gave him hope for the future. People may find meaning and value in any number of things, such as love for another, creative endeavors, the beauty of art or nature, or a personal or work project. Meaning can even be found within the suffering itself as one gains compassion, bravery, resiliency, patience, and many other positive characteristics from the experience.
For many members of the LGBTQI community, life has involved suffering. This suffering can take the form of rejecting friends or family, homophobia, romantic disappointments, abuse, eating disorders, struggles with identity, etc. Frankl dares us to look at these experiences in a different light and to approach new challenges with a sense of hope and meaning. In this holiday season, with the New Year approaching, let us take a step back and reflect on the sources of meaning in our own lives so that we are able to stand resiliently against whatever 2013 may bring. IntraSpectrum Counseling offers a unique validating and supportive therapeutic environment that is focused on helping our clients discover their authentic selves, find their sources of strength, meaning, hope, and resiliency, and ultimately thrive in a sometimes-hostile world. All of our counselors have specialized training and experience working with LGBTQI clients. We offer a range of services including individual counseling, group counseling, transgender counseling, and same sex marriage counseling. We work with a diverse client base and are committed to meeting the needs of the LGBTQI community and beyond.
Frankl, Viktor Emil. (1962) Man’s search for meaning: an introduction to logotherapy Boston, Mass. : Beacon Press.