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The Therapist and the Soul: From Fate to Freedom
Lukas, Elisabeth S.
Purpose Research / Softcover / 2015-10-01 / 0982427832
Existential and Logotherapy
price: $35.50 (may be subject to change)
246 pages
Not in Stock, usually ships in 7-10 business days

Elisabeth Lukas is one of the leading practitioners of logotherapy in the world, and is internationally known for applying and extending Frankl’s work. Viktor Frankl noted that, “For Lukas, there is no human being who does not retain a chance to grow, no situation which does not have its spark of meaning…. To elucidate meaning possibilities is the art of Elisabeth Lukas and entirely in the tradition of logotherapy.”

Dr. Lukas wrote this manuscript as a psychological counterpart to Frankl’s first book, which was titled Medical Ministry in its German edition; in English, Frankl’s book was published as The Doctor and the Soul. Lukas’ book was therefore published in German as Psychological Ministry; though the manuscript was translated into English in the early 1990s, its distribution was limited to a small number of photocopies. The manuscript has been carefully copyedited and corrected. It has been typeset using the latest software, the line drawings have been crisply redrawn, and the images have been reproduced from the photocopied translation.

The book is divided into three parts: A. Toward a psychology of human dignity; B. Being for something or someone; and C. Psychological ministry. In this book, Lukas offers hope to those who suffer from fear or guilt, and helps the individual to discern between guilt and fear that is justified or unjustified. Each must be dealt with differently; for example, it is common for a person to suffer from guilt for an accident for which there is no responsibility. Such unjustified guilt is actually the result of the blows of fate, which were not chosen and for which the person was therefore not responsible (able to respond). On the other hand, where guilt is justified, the offering of “absolution” is not appropriate, and practical measures must be offered for the individual to make reparations.

Lukas devotes separate chapters to: meaningful approaches to the unique struggles facing men and women; saying “Yes!” to “problem children”; the use of books for self-therapy; and the prevention of suicide, among others. Lukas establishes (using examples and case studies) that it is not necessary to dredge up the past, uncover old wounds, or analyze childhood traumas in order to find meaning and healing. What awaits us all in each moment is a single meaningful choice among a constellation of possibilities.

Excerpts from The Therapist and the Soul: From Fate to Freedom

If we want to think about overcoming crises without wasting time on reconstructing their origin, then we can use a simple formula: Where meaning is perceived, life becomes bearable; where no meaning is perceived, life becomes unbearable. And this is independent of all other life circumstances. (p. 64)

On closer scrutiny, it becomes apparent that everybody can be good for something or someone, independent of the perhaps miserable position in which the person exists. At the very moment when such a “being good for something” (that is, a meaning element of one’s own existence) lights up, the question “why live?” or “why go on living?” is already answered. (p. 186)

How can helping support be given in the search for meaning, which every person faces sooner or later? One fact has to be kept in mind: Meaning can never be given—it must be discovered. (p. 12)

It will never be possible to trace an irrational fear to its deepest roots, but with a healthy defiance it is possible to prevent its growing and to cause it to wilt with a distancing laughter. One can hardly credit what healing power there really is in humor. A fear that can be caricatured is no longer a fear, at least not one that can cause damage. Humor is part of the human being’s spiritual potential, exclusively at each individual’s disposal, for no animal can laugh. (pp. 151-152)

It is the central concern of the logotherapist to guide vulnerable people towards meaning-oriented thinking and to rouse in them supportive attitudes which will prove themselves in times of need and crisis. (pp. 185-186)

We are faced today with the difficult task of reintegrating the spiritual dimension into our psychological concept of the human being. And we also have to make sure that the spiritual dimension gets that superior value which it deserves–and must have–if our human society is to continue. (p. 207)

Psychotherapy has its foundation in the concept of human nature prevailing at the time. Unfortunately, psychotherapy is in many ways still based on a psychology “devoid of spirit” and risks degenerating into a mechanical treatment “devoid of dignity.” (p. 207)

The concept of “sacrifice” is always related to a “what for,” which alone determines the meaningfulness of every sacrifice. The greater the value of a “what for,” the greater the meaning of the sacrifice to be made. (p. 211)

It is not the intention of those practicing logotherapy to put blame onto patients; nor are practitioners interested in exonerating patients of guilt. Rather, the logotherapist is concerned with insight into just how far we are free and hence responsible, in contrast to how far we are the plaything of fate and hence not responsible or guilty. Which possibility is preferred is an open question. (p. 221)

Fate entails that the circumstances themselves cannot be changed. But we are not responsible for what we cannot change and have not chosen, nor can we be at fault in such circumstances. However, what we have chosen freely, done freely, decided freely to be a part of our own lives, to this we have committed ourselves with all its consequences. It is undeniably our own deed or our own fault.

When we look at it this way, we may hesitate to prefer the area of freedom. For freedom may well be a gift, but it is also a sentence to responsibility. And fate may well force us to do something, but it is also a pardon from responsibility. (p. 218)

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