An interesting thing happened to me. I described logotherapy to my daughter who is a film school student. After I explained it her reaction was “You’ve just described the sequence of a script for a film!”
My explanation of logotherapy was this: A person lives his or her life in a certain way and something happens to make the person realize that who he thought he was is not his true authentic self. I gave an example from the book Happiness is a Choice by Barry Kaufman. A father was frequently violent towards his little girl and everyone condemned him for it.
The father meets a person who refuses to stand in judgment of him. Through this encounter he gets in touch with the love underlying his negative behaviors. Little by little it dawns on him how much fear had been driving him. It was because of his love for his child that he beat her so that she would not turn out “bad” like him, although his way of expressing the love was so very twisted and horribly wrong.
This is what happens in life naturally if we reflect on our life. It turns out that life, for good or for bad, helps bring us around to our authentic selves.
One of the unique aspects of logotherapy that gives it great healing power is that it believes in and evokes the good in the person that lies buried deep down, no matter how out of touch with it the person has become. Logotherapy challenges the person to reflect on his or her life and consider the consequences of his actions, and says “Look at what you’re doing. Is this what you want?” It essentially says to a person “Who is the real you?” Does what you are doing befit who you are??”
Then my daughter told me the sequence of how a script is written. Since a script is supposed to mimic life my conclusion was that life itself asks us these kinds of questions. It takes us through tests that bring us to face ourselves and become our authentic selves. If logotherapy sounds like a description of a screenplay or movie script it is because logotherapy supports life’s guidance. Instead of seeing himself as bad an continuing to live up to this image, the therapist saw the good in him, and this allowed him to live up to the image of who he was meant to be and who he is deep down.
Logotherapy comes to support the process that life itself gives us.
The following is a description of a script according to my daughter’s explanation. Decide for yourself if this sounds to you like logotherapy.
A person has a balanced life, going along as usual…
Suddenly something happens, good or bad, that changes his life in a way that’s significant enough to shake him from his balance.
This takes him on a journey during which he wants to go back to where he was before.
There is a basic conflict throughout because of this attempt to set things right.
He starts to perform a series of actions that will bring things back to the way they were.
Something happens to him that causes him to change direction.
He vacillates between being who he thinks he is and being his authentic self.
Things get complicated and he gets further away from his authentic self.
Something else happens (not suddenly, without any connection to anything but that stems from the plot).
He gets to a point where he can’t turn back.
He struggles with the last struggle.
He makes one last fateful decision and makes the choice as a result of which he shows himself to be the person he authentically is.
In the end we see how this influences the rest of his life.