The Therapist and the Soul: From Fate to Freedom by Elisabeth Lukas
Elisabeth Lukas is one of the leading practitioners of logotherapy in the world, and is internationally known for applying and extending the work of Viktor Frankl. 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."
In this book, Lukas offers hope to those who suffer from guilt or fear, whether justified or not. 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. 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 address it.
Lukas devotes separate chapters to meaningful approaches to the unique struggles facing men and women; working with "problem children"; the use of books for self-therapy; the prevention of suicides; as well as justified vs. unjustified guilt, 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 is a meaningful choice among a constellation of possibilities.
Excerpts from The Therapist and the Soul: From Fate to Freedom
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 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)
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)