Down Syndrome and a logotherapeutic attitude

Apropos to what I was writing about yesterday and the understandings that congealed in our logotherapy group, I received in my box a most beautiful, poignant and meaningful article by William Kolbrenner illustrating a logotherapeutic attitude towards life (although he is not a logotherapist).

I liked it for several reasons.

a) What Frankl calls “the defiant power of the human spirit”: I am always positively impressed by someone who believes in a child’s potential and doesn’t accept the standard expectations (in this case for a child with Down syndrome) but sees all he is capable of and gives him the chance to develop into all that he can be.

b) Love: Perfection is not what brings happiness, because we can never attain perfection. In the struggle for perfection we always have to be better than the next guy. We have to be the star. This brings competitiveness and pushing everyone else out of the way in order to get to the top. On the dark side of life this brings envy and bitterness and the sense of never being “good enough.” What brings happiness is having something of value to be happy about. For example, one can be happy about giving the gift of love and belief in a child’s potential and this motivates a parent to devote time and patience and energy to provide the tools the child needs to grow especially when others are not providing it.

c) Humility; The article illustrates the difference between the emphasis in today’s world on choices in contrast to recognition that not everything is in our control nor is it meant to be. One aspect to the “it’s about me” focus is the desperate attempt to hold on to control. When choice is couched in these terms choice becomes part of the psychological, ego-oriented realm, not the dimension of meaning and values and the human/spiritual capacity for choice. So even choice, which is seemingly an aspect of the spiritual dimension can be twisted into something unrecognizable as a spiritual power.

d) Trust and responsibility: This seems to me to be an outflow of a different article recently written by the same writer which can be read here. To acknowledge that you don’t know why anything is the way it is but you do know that you are here in this world to use all of the gifts you’ve been given requires a different kind of attitude than the standard way of thinking. You have to believe you’ve been entrusted with this gift, including the gift of a Down syndrome child, and that the reason you’ve been entrusted with this gift is because you have the capability of doing something beautiful with it. Finally you have to believe that it is not up to you to ask what you expect of life but what life expects of you.

d ) Saying ‘yes’ to life: Lastly, it means saying ‘yes’ to life, and embracing all of life without without conditions and without discrimination based on what you think is good or bad.

For all of these reasons I found the attitudes expressed in the article inspiring.

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