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The doctor who prescribed the meaning of life to his patients

The doctor who prescribed the meaning of life to his patients

  • Not having a meaningful life can be dreadful, and one psychologist thought it was the root cause of many neuroses.
  • His ideas became Logotherapy, which focuses on the need for a meaningful life and has shown success in many areas.
  • Many studies agree that leading a meaningful life has tangible benefits and lacking meaning can lead to problems.

Many people struggle with the question of what the meaning of life their life is. The dread that can accompany meaninglessness is well known, but where to turn when you can’t find purpose often remains obscure.

Then, there is Viktor Frankl, and his school of psychology based around finding the meaning of your life.

Man’s
Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychologist known for his system of psychotherapy known as Logotherapy. As he explained in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, many of the key ideas were born out of his time in Nazi concentration camps. He observed how his fellow prisoners dealt with the Nazi atrocities; these observations formed the basis for his theories.

Frankl suggested that a “will to meaning,” exists in all of us and impacts our behavior and mental health. Our having it means that what we really want in life is to give a meaning to what we are doing and experiencing. If we fail to do so, we are likely to begin to show symptoms of depression, anxiety, and neurosis. By finding meaning, we can fully function as people and deal with whatever life throws at us.

None

Logotherapy was designed to help people deal with the problem of finding meaning, and had a robust theoretical framework to help guide it. Frankl assumed that life had inherent value and was worth living, that we have a will to meaning which must be confronted, that we have the freedom to find meaning at every moment, and that people had not only a mind and body but a “spirit” that was our true, unique, essence that also had to be considered.

In sessions, Frankl would engage in dialogue with his patients to help guide them along a path of self-discovery. He also helped people directly face their fears as a way to overcome them and encouraged people to see problems in larger contexts by steering them away from self-absorbed brooding.

The fundamental ideas of the school are evident in a famous excerpt from his book which concerns a distraught widower:

Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now, how can I help him? What should I tell him? Well, I refrained from telling him anything but instead confronted him with the question, ‘What would have happened, doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!’ Whereupon I replied, ‘You see, doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering — to be sure, at the price that now you have to survive and mourn her.’ He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left my office. In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

This is
nice and all, but is there any empirical data for these theories or is it all
just hot air?

The various benefits of having meaning in your life are well known. People who feel their lives have meaning tend to be healthier, happier, age better, and generally have a better time than people who don’t.

As for Logotherapy, an overarching study of existing research showed it is an effective method for dealing with common issues such as depression and anxiety. It has also shown promise in marriage counseling, hospice care, coping with job burnout, empty nest syndrome, and is linked to increased life expectancy in cancer patients.

Though it was never meant to deal with severe psychosis, it has been used to help people with these conditions as well with some degree of success.

How can somebody
do in their day to day life to find meaning? I’m asking for a friend.

Frankl gave us three suggestions in his book:

We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed [the way of achievement or accomplishment]; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone [the way of nature and culture, and the way of love]; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.

He also reminds us that life isn’t fair, and sometimes it’s going to suck. In these cases, attitude can be everything:

When we are no longer able to change a situation — just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer — we are challenged to change ourselves.

He isn’t encouraging suffering for its own sake though; he later clarified that option three applies only when the first options are unavailable.

What are
some criticisms of this school?

There are a few issues with Logotherapy that were pointed out by other existential psychologists.

The most notable was Frankl’s authoritarian tendencies when conducting therapy sessions. Psychologist Rollo May explained in his book Existential Psychology, Frankl’s therapy came dangerously close to authoritarianism because:

“… there seem to be clear solutions to all problems, which belies the complexity of actual life. It seems that if the patient cannot find his goal, Frankl supplies him with one. This would seem to take over the patients’ responsibility and. . . diminish the patient as a person.”

In another case, May compared Frankl’s treatment of a patient with schizophrenia as having thesame authoritarian character as fundamentalistic religion.” If these issues were problems with Logotherapy itself or with Frankl’s application of his theories, as he was said to have been arrogant when talking with patients, is an unsolved question.

One thing is clear though, if you didn’t have meaning in your life Dr. Frankl was going to give it to you. Even the famous story above about the widower takes on a new tone in light of this critique. It’s ironic when you think about it — remember where Frankl said he was when he came up with some of these ideas.

Is this
system still in use?

It lives on in spirit if not in name. Meaning Therapy, a recently developed school that helps people work toward self-transcendence as a solution to various issues, was directly influenced by Frankl’s thought. Elements of Logotherapy have also found their way into cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). The overlap with ACT is very plain to see, as several sources agree that working toward a meaningful life is a critical element of it. The use of Logotherapy as a compliment to CBT has been directly studied with positive results.

Is the need for meaning so great that without it we start to crack? Is meaning, once found, so sustaining that it can support people even through the darkest part of the 20th century? One psychologist thought so and tried to help others as best he could with that insight. While finding a dedicated Logotherapist might be difficult, the ideas of Viktor Frankl can still be of great use in therapy and to people everywhere who are trying to make sense of it all.

The doctor who prescribed the meaning of life to his patients

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Cahokia: North America’s massive, ancient city

Cahokia: North America’s massive, ancient city

  • In modern-day Missouri, you can find towering mounds of earth that were once the product of a vast North American culture.
  • Cahokia was the largest city built by this native American civilization.
  • Because the Mississippians who built Cahokia didn’t have a writing system, little is known of their culture Archaeological evidence, however, hints at a fascinating society.

None

Mesopotamia had Ur, a wealthy city from 2100 BC and a towering ziggurat. Egypt had (and still has) Memphis and Alexandria, with their great pyramids and library, respectively. The Toltecs or Totonacs had Teotihuacan, which hosted over 125,000 people in its monolithic architecture.

Ancient cities seem to have sprung up all over the world, each of which must have been magnificent sights in their day. But it seems like a handful of these cities hog all the limelight. Few are familiar with North America’s great ancient city, Cahokia.

Mysterious mounds in Missouri

Near modern-day St. Louis, Missouri, 80 mounds of earth dot 2,200 acres of land, the largest of which covers 13.8 acres and rises 100 feet high. These 80 mounds are the remainders of 120 mounds built 1,000 years before Columbus reached North American by a forgotten people called the Mississippians, named after the great river they lived near. All told, the mounds would have required the excavation of about 55 million cubic feet of earth.

The Mississippian civilization is poorly understood; they had no writing system, and by the time Europeans bothered to seriously document their culture, they had been scattered, wiped out by European diseases they had no immunities to.

Instead, much of our understanding of the Mississippians has come from archaeology, and the city of Cahokia represents the greatest trove of archaeological evidence. The city was named after the Cahokia tribe that lived in the area when the French first arrived, though they were not its original inhabitants. In fact, by that time in the 17th century, Cahokia was abandoned.

Though the Mississippians had no writing system, Cahokia was clearly the product of some kind of centralized planning. Its many great mounds are a testament to that as well as the 50-acre leveled plain of the city named the Grand Plaza; the remains of a copper workshop; a palisade that surrounded its central, ceremonial district; and large henges made of wood.

When Cahokia was at its greatest between 1050 and 1200 AD, it hosted an estimated 40,000 Mississippians, more than the city of London at the time. The bulk of these people flocked to the city between 1050 and 1100, where they built homes, established the Grand Plaza, and built more mounds that raised important buildings over the thousands of other homes in Cahokia.

Life in Cahokia

We can gleam some other features of Cahokian life from the fragments they left behind. We’ve found carved discs throughout Cahokia that were used in a game called “chunkey” that was played on the large flat field of the Grand Plaza. Participants rolled the chunkey stone across the field and threw spears toward where they thought the stone would come to rest. Huge audiences watched chunkey players, and players often gambled on the outcome.

But life in Cahokia wasn’t entirely fun and games. There is also evidence that the Cahokians engaged in human sacrifice. At one mound in particular, dubbed Mound 72, researchers found the remains of 272 people. In one instance of sacrifice, 39 people were lined up in front of a pit and clubbed to one by one, falling into a mass grave. Two dozen different mass graves populate Mound 72, all of which contain the remains of people who had been strangled, clubbed, and even buried alive.

But there’s also a more reverent grave at Mound 72: a man buried on 20,000 beads made from seashells, which were status symbols and luxury items in Mississippian culture. These beads were arranged in the shape of a falcon. The falcon was an important symbol in Mississippian culture, typically associated with great warriors and chunkey players.

The city’s decline

By the time Columbus and other Europeans arrived in America, Cahokia was abandoned and had been since approximately 1300. What drove the Mississippians away from the vast city is unclear. It’s possible there had been some kind of conflict with another people—the palisade that encircled part of the city speaks to that. Or, it could be that the unique density of Cahokia led to its downfall. Few other places in North America had tens of thousands of humans living in close proximity with one another. It could be that disease wiped out the Cahokians or that the area was overhunted, overfished, and overfarmed. Some evidence also suggests that the area was severely flooded twice: once between 1100 and 1260 and again between 1340 and 1460. Possibly a combination of these factors led the mound-builders to abandon Cahokia.

Today, Cahokia is preserved as a historic site that anyone in Missouri can visit. However, Cahokia only gained its protective status in the 1960s. Prior to that, it was the site of heavy development—some of its mounds had been leveled for farming, airfields, housing, and highways. Fortunately, much of the site still remains, and it represents one of the few ancient cities left to visit in North America.

Cahokia: North America’s massive, ancient city

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Cahokia: North America’s massive, ancient city

Cahokia: North America’s massive, ancient city

  • In modern-day Missouri, you can find towering mounds of earth that were once the product of a vast North American culture.
  • Cahokia was the largest city built by this native American civilization.
  • Because the Mississippians who built Cahokia didn’t have a writing system, little is known of their culture Archaeological evidence, however, hints at a fascinating society.

None

Mesopotamia had Ur, a wealthy city from 2100 BC and a towering ziggurat. Egypt had (and still has) Memphis and Alexandria, with their great pyramids and library, respectively. The Toltecs or Totonacs had Teotihuacan, which hosted over 125,000 people in its monolithic architecture.

Ancient cities seem to have sprung up all over the world, each of which must have been magnificent sights in their day. But it seems like a handful of these cities hog all the limelight. Few are familiar with North America’s great ancient city, Cahokia.

Mysterious mounds in Missouri

Near modern-day St. Louis, Missouri, 80 mounds of earth dot 2,200 acres of land, the largest of which covers 13.8 acres and rises 100 feet high. These 80 mounds are the remainders of 120 mounds built 1,000 years before Columbus reached North American by a forgotten people called the Mississippians, named after the great river they lived near. All told, the mounds would have required the excavation of about 55 million cubic feet of earth.

The Mississippian civilization is poorly understood; they had no writing system, and by the time Europeans bothered to seriously document their culture, they had been scattered, wiped out by European diseases they had no immunities to.

Instead, much of our understanding of the Mississippians has come from archaeology, and the city of Cahokia represents the greatest trove of archaeological evidence. The city was named after the Cahokia tribe that lived in the area when the French first arrived, though they were not its original inhabitants. In fact, by that time in the 17th century, Cahokia was abandoned.

Though the Mississippians had no writing system, Cahokia was clearly the product of some kind of centralized planning. Its many great mounds are a testament to that as well as the 50-acre leveled plain of the city named the Grand Plaza; the remains of a copper workshop; a palisade that surrounded its central, ceremonial district; and large henges made of wood.

When Cahokia was at its greatest between 1050 and 1200 AD, it hosted an estimated 40,000 Mississippians, more than the city of London at the time. The bulk of these people flocked to the city between 1050 and 1100, where they built homes, established the Grand Plaza, and built more mounds that raised important buildings over the thousands of other homes in Cahokia.

Life in Cahokia

We can gleam some other features of Cahokian life from the fragments they left behind. We’ve found carved discs throughout Cahokia that were used in a game called “chunkey” that was played on the large flat field of the Grand Plaza. Participants rolled the chunkey stone across the field and threw spears toward where they thought the stone would come to rest. Huge audiences watched chunkey players, and players often gambled on the outcome.

But life in Cahokia wasn’t entirely fun and games. There is also evidence that the Cahokians engaged in human sacrifice. At one mound in particular, dubbed Mound 72, researchers found the remains of 272 people. In one instance of sacrifice, 39 people were lined up in front of a pit and clubbed to one by one, falling into a mass grave. Two dozen different mass graves populate Mound 72, all of which contain the remains of people who had been strangled, clubbed, and even buried alive.

But there’s also a more reverent grave at Mound 72: a man buried on 20,000 beads made from seashells, which were status symbols and luxury items in Mississippian culture. These beads were arranged in the shape of a falcon. The falcon was an important symbol in Mississippian culture, typically associated with great warriors and chunkey players.

The city’s decline

By the time Columbus and other Europeans arrived in America, Cahokia was abandoned and had been since approximately 1300. What drove the Mississippians away from the vast city is unclear. It’s possible there had been some kind of conflict with another people—the palisade that encircled part of the city speaks to that. Or, it could be that the unique density of Cahokia led to its downfall. Few other places in North America had tens of thousands of humans living in close proximity with one another. It could be that disease wiped out the Cahokians or that the area was overhunted, overfished, and overfarmed. Some evidence also suggests that the area was severely flooded twice: once between 1100 and 1260 and again between 1340 and 1460. Possibly a combination of these factors led the mound-builders to abandon Cahokia.

Today, Cahokia is preserved as a historic site that anyone in Missouri can visit. However, Cahokia only gained its protective status in the 1960s. Prior to that, it was the site of heavy development—some of its mounds had been leveled for farming, airfields, housing, and highways. Fortunately, much of the site still remains, and it represents one of the few ancient cities left to visit in North America.

Cahokia: North America’s massive, ancient city

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The contentious history of the Anarchist Cookbook

The contentious history of the Anarchist Cookbook

  • The Anarchist Cookbook provides instructions for making bombs, drugs, and operating firearms; naturally, this makes it rather controversial.
  • Concerned citizens, anarchists themselves, and many others have called for the ban of the book, but most liberal democracies have refused to do so.
  • Whether you think dangerous literature should be banned or whether banning books is an inherently anti-democratic position, knowing and understanding why the Anarchist Cookbook draws so much criticism can be valuable.

None

It’s difficult to find a book more eclectic, violent, provocative, and incendiary than the Anarchist Cookbook. It’s a bizarre instruction manual that covers a wide array of topics whose only connection is that they are often illegal and dangerous. Broadly, the book covers four areas: drugs; electronics, sabotage, and surveillance; natural, nonlethal, and lethal weapons; and explosives and booby traps.

Since it was first written in 1971, much of its information is out of date. But some topics, like how to make improvised bombs, don’t have an expiration date. The book provides instructions for making LSD and teargas, primers on how to operate various firearms, how to sabotage different kinds of infrastructure, and writing on anarchist philosophy.

The book was written by William Powell, a manager of a bookstore in Greenwich Village. Powell quit his job, however, to write the Anarchist Cookbook. “My motivation at the time was simple,” said Powell in an article for The Guardian. “I was being actively pursued by the US military, who seemed single-mindedly determined to send me to fight, and possibly die, in Vietnam.” Its counter-cultural, violent message proved popular; today, it has sold in excess of 2 million copies.

It should come as no surprise that the book is infamous and controversial. But the kinds of criticism it attracts varies depending on the source. Governments across the world clearly have a negative opinion of the text. It does, after all, advocate for violent civil disobedience. The Anarchist Cookbook is banned in Australia. In the UK, possessing the book—though not illegal itself—has often been used as evidence in terrorism cases. A teenager was accused and later acquitted of a plot to assassinate British National Party members in 2008. In 2017, a 27-year-old who had traveled to Syria and possessed a copy was accused of being a terrorist. It turned out that he had merely printed a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook for use in a role-playing game in a university society.

In the United States, critics have called for a ban of Anarchist Cookbook ever since its publication. Worryingly, the book has been found in the possession of several mass shooters, including the Columbine shooters, a 2013 shooting at a Colorado high school, and the 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Despite these demands, the book remains legal and easy to purchase or find online.

Though it remains legal, the FBI certainly doesn’t approve of it. In their initial investigation of the Anarchist Cookbook, the FBI wrote that it “has to be one of the crudest, low-brow, paranoiac writing efforts ever attempted.” Numerous letter-writers exhorted then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to ban the book, but he could only reply that “the FBI has no control over material published through the mass media.”

None

Still others argue that the book should be banned because much of its content is… well… crap. Powell wrote the Anarchist Cookbook when he was just 19, and much of its information is inaccurate. For example, the cookbook provides instructions for extracting a chemical called bananadine—”a mild, short-lasting psychedelic”—from banana peels. Bananadine does not exist; it was a fabrication written in the underground newspaper the Berkeley Barb in an attempt to get authorities to ban bananas. Powell, however, believed it to be true.

The explosive recipes are particularly dangerous, though few would feel much remorse if a bomb-maker were to accidentally blow themselves up. Still, since the text attracts many people who are more curious than homicidal, the inaccuracies could have consequences for more innocent readers.

Even anarchists don’t find the Anarchist Cookbook particularly compelling. For one, its philosophical stance is questionable. Its preface conflates nihilism and anarchism, a position that many anarchists would take umbrage to. Leo Tolstoy, for example, was certainly not a nihilist; he was a thoroughly religious man who espoused an anarcho-pacifist philosophy. Noam Chomsky believed in anarcho-syndicalism, a kind of mixture of socialism and anarchy that very much requires the belief in something, at the very least the virtue of doing work for work’s sake.

More inherent to the book’s purpose is the fact that the use of violence as a means to anarchy is perhaps the defining divide among different anarchist philosophies. Violent actions in anarchy is referred to as the propaganda of the deed—a kind of terrorist method of intimidating those in power and recruiting and inspiring others for a political revolution. Though this conforms to the public perception of an anarchist, it is very much denied by many prominent anarchist thinkers, like Leo Tolstoy—who was more or less constitutionally incapable of hurting a fly—Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn.

But the most important person to level criticism against the book and its violent tactics is William Powell himself. Powell later converted to Anglicanism and became a teacher to students in developing countries in Africa and Asia, a far cry from his anarchist youth. He has been trying to get the book pulled from shelves for decades, but he no longer holds the copyright to the work.

In his article for The Guardian, Powell wrote:

Over the years, I have come to understand that the basic premise behind the Cookbook is profoundly flawed. The anger that motivated the writing of the Cookbook blinded me to the illogical notion that violence can be used to prevent violence. I had fallen for the same irrational pattern of thought that led to US military involvement in both Vietnam and Iraq. The irony is not lost on me. […] The continued publication of the Cookbook serves no purpose other than a commercial one for the publisher. It should quickly and quietly go out of print.

Despite his efforts, the Anarchist Cookbook is still widely disseminated online and easily purchased at Amazon or bookstores. While the commitment to the free and unimpeded distribution of writing is a valuable, admirable quality in any democracy, in the face of so much criticism, perhaps it would be best if the Anarchist Cookbook did, in fact, go quickly and quietly out of print.

The contentious history of the Anarchist Cookbook

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Elon Schoenholz, Commercial Photographer

Our guest this week is Elon Schoenholz. Elon is a former guest editor of Cool Tools and has been working as a commercial photographer documenting art and architecture in L.A. for the past 20 years. He’s a husband and father, gardner and an avid cyclist, and a founding member of the LA County Bicycle Coalition. He raced cyclocross for three seasons, without ever breaking the top 10.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Gitzotripod
Gitzo 11-foot Carbon Fiber Tripod ($1,237)
“I’ve had a lot of tripods over the years. Gitzo is known for making the best. I believe they’re a French company. But this tripod is special in that it’s considerably taller than any other tripod I’m aware of. I think with the center column, it gets up close to 11 feet, but over 10 feet. I actually use it more than you might expect at its full height for shooting exteriors and also for getting over very large pieces of art. Sometimes I’ll photograph rugs or tapestries and have to get really high up. … There’s really nothing else in the game that even competes with this one.”

AMG500
Krane AMG500 ($296)
“Almost more important than my tripod is my cart, because a lot of times … I don’t have a budget for an assistant, but I’m carrying a ton of gear. And for a while I was using a Magliner, which is like what a UPS driver uses. It was just a little bit overkill. And the Krane model that I found at Samy’s Camera in LA is just a perfect in-between for me. I easily get 250 pounds on it, and it’s just great. It folds down very small, so it’s much more portable than a Magliner would be, but it carries more than twice as much as what one of those little folding carts would carry. It has two basic setups. You can have it set up so that the bottom of it is flat, or you can angle the bottom of it, but even when the bottom’s angled, it’s still rolling on all four wheels. I have a Pelican case with lenses, a big backpack with my Profoto lights, another backpack with my camera bodies and laptop, a tripod bag, and then another bag with light stands and umbrellas, and that all fits. And then two sandbags, and that all fits on the cart, and I’m able to move it myself without assistance.”

VSGO_full_frame_sensor
VSGO Full-Frame Digital Camera Sensor Cleaning Swab Kit ($20)
“I recently started shooting with the Sony a7RIII that came out within the past year or so, and it’s been a revolutionary camera for me. But it’s a mirrorless camera, and so therefore, there’s no barrier between the sensor and the open air when you switch lenses. So I found right when I bought it and started using it, I was getting lots of dust on the sensor, and besides the expense of paying $50 to have a camera repair place clean the sensor, I couldn’t be without it for 24 or 48 hours. So I looked into cleaning it myself and was pretty afraid to touch the sensor, but I went for it, and I got these inexpensive swabs by a company called VSGO. I found it on Amazon, pretty well reviewed, and I watched some YouTube videos. And I did it myself very effectively by a little bit of optic cleaning fluid that comes with it in a kit.”

irongym
Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar ($30)
“One of the most useful things I own [is] a pull-up bar that can be taken down anytime. So as opposed to the traditional, old-school pull-up bars that would screw and torque into a door frame, this rests on top of the door frame. Some door frames have sort of the equivalent of a window frame, where there’s a little ledge. And so a piece rests on that, and then sort of due to leverage and gravity, it’s very, very stable. So you can take it off, and you can put it up or take it down in just a moment, and I particularly like that because I like to have it in the kitchen. If we have company over, I take it down. But I do a lot of my work from home, and getting away from the computer and hanging, as I believe I may have heard Tim Ferriss talking about, that’s something that I find is enormously helpful for my back when I’m at my computer all day.”

We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $400 a month. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute! If you would like to make a one-time donation, you can do so using this link: https://paypal.me/cooltools.– MF

via https://kk.org/cooltools/elon-schoenholz-commercial-photographer/

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The doctor who prescribed the meaning of life to his patients

The doctor who prescribed the meaning of life to his patients

  • Not having a meaningful life can be dreadful, and one psychologist thought it was the root cause of many neuroses.
  • His ideas became Logotherapy, which focuses on the need for a meaningful life and has shown success in many areas.
  • Many studies agree that leading a meaningful life has tangible benefits and lacking meaning can lead to problems.

Many people struggle with the question of what the meaning of life their life is. The dread that can accompany meaninglessness is well known, but where to turn when you can’t find purpose often remains obscure.

Then, there is Viktor Frankl, and his school of psychology based around finding the meaning of your life.

Man’s
Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychologist known for his system of psychotherapy known as Logotherapy. As he explained in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, many of the key ideas were born out of his time in Nazi concentration camps. He observed how his fellow prisoners dealt with the Nazi atrocities; these observations formed the basis for his theories.

Frankl suggested that a “will to meaning,” exists in all of us and impacts our behavior and mental health. Our having it means that what we really want in life is to give a meaning to what we are doing and experiencing. If we fail to do so, we are likely to begin to show symptoms of depression, anxiety, and neurosis. By finding meaning, we can fully function as people and deal with whatever life throws at us.

Logotherapy was designed to help people deal with the problem of finding meaning, and had a robust theoretical framework to help guide it. Frankl assumed that life had inherent value and was worth living, that we have a will to meaning which must be confronted, that we have the freedom to find meaning at every moment, and that people had not only a mind and body but a “spirit” that was our true, unique, essence that also had to be considered.

In sessions, Frankl would engage in dialogue with his patients to help guide them along a path of self-discovery. He also helped people directly face their fears as a way to overcome them and encouraged people to see problems in larger contexts by steering them away from self-absorbed brooding.

The fundamental ideas of the school are evident in a famous excerpt from his book which concerns a distraught widower:

“Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now, how can I help him? What should I tell him? Well, I refrained from telling him anything but instead confronted him with the question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?” “Oh,” he said, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!” Whereupon I replied, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering — to be sure, at the price that now you have to survive and mourn her.” He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left my office. In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

This is
nice and all, but is there any empirical data for these theories or is it all
just hot air?

The various benefits of having meaning in your life are well known. People who feel their lives have meaning tend to be healthier, happier, age better, and generally have a better time than people who don’t.

As for Logotherapy, an overarching study of existing research showed it is an effective method for dealing with common issues such as depression and anxiety. It has also shown promise in marriage counseling, hospice care, coping with job burnout, empty nest syndrome, and is linked to increased life expectancy in cancer patients.

Though it was never meant to deal with severe psychosis, it has been used to help people with these conditions as well with some degree of success.

How can somebody
do in their day to day life to find meaning? I’m asking for a friend.

Frankl gave us three suggestions in his book:

“We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed [the way of achievement or accomplishment]; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone [the way of nature and culture, and the way of love]; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.”

He also reminds us that life isn’t fair, and sometimes it’s going to suck. In these cases, attitude can be everything:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation–just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer–we are challenged to change ourselves.”

He isn’t encouraging suffering for its own sake though; he later clarified that option three applies only when the first options are unavailable.

What are
some criticisms of this school?

There are a few issues with Logotherapy that were pointed out by other existential psychologists.

The most notable was Frankl’s authoritarian tendencies when conducting therapy sessions. Psychologist Rollo May explained in his book Existential Psychology, Frankl’s therapy came dangerously close to authoritarianism because:

… there seem to be clear solutions to all problems, which belies the complexity of actual life. It seems that if the patient cannot find his goal, Frankl supplies him with one. This would seem to take over the patients’ responsibility and … diminish the patient as a person.

In another case, May compared Frankl’s treatment of a patient with schizophrenia as having thesame authoritarian character as fundamentalistic religion.” If these issues were problems with Logotherapy itself or with Frankl’s application of his theories, as he was said to have been arrogant when talking with patients, is an unsolved question.

One thing is clear though, if you didn’t have meaning in your life Dr. Frankl was going to give it to you. Even the famous story above about the widower takes on a new tone in light of this critique. It’s ironic when you think about it- remember where Frankl said he was when he came up with some of these ideas.

Is this
system still in use?

It lives on in spirit if not in name. Meaning Therapy, a recently developed school that helps people work towards self-transcendence as a solution to various issues, was directly influenced by Frankl’s thought. Elements of Logotherapy have also found their way into Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). The overlap with ACT is very plain to see, as several sources agree that working towards a meaningful life is a critical element of it. The use of Logotherapy as a compliment to CBT has been directly studied with positive results.

Is the need for meaning so great that without it we start to crack? Is meaning, once found, so sustaining that it can support people even through the darkest part of the 20th century? One psychologist thought so and tried to help others as best he could with that insight. While finding a dedicated Logotherapist might be difficult, the ideas of Viktor Frankl can still be of great use in therapy and to people everywhere who are trying to make sense of it all.


Finding meaning in difficult times (Interview with Dr. Viktor Frankl)

www.youtube.com

The doctor who prescribed the meaning of life to his patients

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World’s largest bee, thought to be extinct, found in Indonesia

World’s largest bee, thought to be extinct, found in Indonesia

  • The giant bee was first discovered in 1859, but since has only officially sighted once.
  • An international team of researchers set out to rediscover the bee in January.
  • Determining exactly when a species is extinct is difficult, especially for small animals like insects.

None

In 1859, while exploring the remote island of Bacan in the North Moluccas, Indonesia, the renowned naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace made an astounding discovery: the Megachile pluto — the world’s largest bee. Wallace described the bee, which is about four times the size of a honeybee, as a “large black wasp-like insect, with immense jaws like a stag-beetle.” But for more than a century, that was the only known sighting of the Megachile pluto, and some feared that deforestation had rendered the giant insect extinct.

In 1981, biologist Adam Messer discovered several Megachile nests on Bacan and neighboring islands — a sight so rare that locals said they’d never before seen the nests. Again, it would be the only known sighting for decades.

Then, several years ago, Eli Wyman, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History, and nature photographer Clay Bolt teamed up to go rediscover Wallace’ giant bee. In early 2018, the pair saw that a Megachile specimen had sold for $9,000 on eBay, creating a new sense of urgency to travel to Indonesia to find the bee.

“We decided that we had to go there,” Bolt told Earther. “Number one, to see it in the wild, to document it, but also to make local contacts in Indonesia that could begin to work with us as partners to try and figure out how to protect the bee.”

In January, Clay, Wyman and other researchers finally rediscovered Wallace’s giant bee, this time in a termites’ nest in a tree.

Photo: Clay Bolt

“It was absolutely breathtaking to see this ‘flying bulldog’ of an insect that we weren’t sure existed any more,” Clay Bolt, the photographer who captured the first images of the species alive, told the BBC. “To actually see how beautiful and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible.”

​Fears of sparking a collectors’ frenzy

The hope, among scientist and conservationists, is that the existence of a sole female in the wild means the region’s forests still harbor a sustainable population of the giant bees. One concern, however, is that the news will spark frenzy among collectors willing to pay big money for rare specimens.

“We know that putting the news out about this rediscovery could seem like a big risk given the demand, but the reality is that unscrupulous collectors already know that the bee is out there,” Robin Moore, a conservation biologist with Global Wildlife Conservation, told The Guardian. “By making the bee a world-famous flagship for conservation we are confident that the species has a brighter future than if we just let it quietly be collected into oblivion.”

Why it’s hard to know when a species is extinct

Determining when a species is extinct is difficult, in short, because the planet is huge, conservation resources are scarce, and it’s simply hard to prove a negative.

“It all boils down to the challenge of definitively proving something does not exist,” Gary Langham, chief scientist for the National Audubon Society, an environmental organization, told Audubon.org. “It’s much easier to prove something does exist.”

Size also makes a difference: It’s far easier for scientists to keep track of the populations of large animals — say, the northern white rhino, whose last male died in 2018 — than of small birds or insects. For some animals, scientists often must rely on more indirect measures to determine population size, such as by gathering data on habitat destruction, collecting reports of sightings and examining things left behind by the animals, like droppings or nests. The difficult of these kinds of surveys means that it’s usually not enough to say that a species is extinct simply because nobody’s seen it in some 50 years.

“It’s a thing that keeps getting perpetuated, that there’s a 50 year rule,” Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the Red List unit at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), told the BBC.

World’s largest bee, thought to be extinct, found in Indonesia

Learn

World’s largest bee, thought to be extinct, found in Indonesia

World’s largest bee, thought to be extinct, found in Indonesia

  • The giant bee was first discovered in 1859, but since has only officially sighted once.
  • An international team of researchers set out to rediscover the bee in January.
  • Determining exactly when a species is extinct is difficult, especially for small animals like insects.

None

In 1859, while exploring the remote island of Bacan in the North Moluccas, Indonesia, the renowned naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace made an astounding discovery: the Megachile pluto — the world’s largest bee. Wallace described the bee, which is about four times the size of a honeybee, as a “large black wasp-like insect, with immense jaws like a stag-beetle.” But for more than a century, that was the only known sighting of the Megachile pluto, and some feared that deforestation had rendered the giant insect extinct.

In 1981, biologist Adam Messer discovered several Megachile nests on Bacan and neighboring islands — a sight so rare that locals said they’d never before seen the nests. Again, it would be the only known sighting for decades.

Then, several years ago, Eli Wyman, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History, and nature photographer Clay Bolt teamed up to go rediscover Wallace’ giant bee. In early 2018, the pair saw that a Megachile specimen had sold for $9,000 on eBay, creating a new sense of urgency to travel to Indonesia to find the bee.

“We decided that we had to go there,” Bolt told Earther. “Number one, to see it in the wild, to document it, but also to make local contacts in Indonesia that could begin to work with us as partners to try and figure out how to protect the bee.”

In January, Clay, Wyman and other researchers finally rediscovered Wallace’s giant bee, this time in a termites’ nest in a tree.

Photo: Clay Bolt

“It was absolutely breathtaking to see this ‘flying bulldog’ of an insect that we weren’t sure existed any more,” Clay Bolt, the photographer who captured the first images of the species alive, told the BBC. “To actually see how beautiful and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible.”

​Fears of sparking a collectors’ frenzy

The hope, among scientist and conservationists, is that the existence of a sole female in the wild means the region’s forests still harbor a sustainable population of the giant bees. One concern, however, is that the news will spark frenzy among collectors willing to pay big money for rare specimens.

“We know that putting the news out about this rediscovery could seem like a big risk given the demand, but the reality is that unscrupulous collectors already know that the bee is out there,” Robin Moore, a conservation biologist with Global Wildlife Conservation, told The Guardian. “By making the bee a world-famous flagship for conservation we are confident that the species has a brighter future than if we just let it quietly be collected into oblivion.”

Why it’s hard to know when a species is extinct

Determining when a species is extinct is difficult, in short, because the planet is huge, conservation resources are scarce, and it’s simply hard to prove a negative.

“It all boils down to the challenge of definitively proving something does not exist,” Gary Langham, chief scientist for the National Audubon Society, an environmental organization, told Audubon.org. “It’s much easier to prove something does exist.”

Size also makes a difference: It’s far easier for scientists to keep track of the populations of large animals — say, the northern white rhino, whose last male died in 2018 — than of small birds or insects. For some animals, scientists often must rely on more indirect measures to determine population size, such as by gathering data on habitat destruction, collecting reports of sightings and examining things left behind by the animals, like droppings or nests. The difficult of these kinds of surveys means that it’s usually not enough to say that a species is extinct simply because nobody’s seen it in some 50 years.

“It’s a thing that keeps getting perpetuated, that there’s a 50 year rule,” Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the Red List unit at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), told the BBC.

World’s largest bee, thought to be extinct, found in Indonesia

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Stirred, Not Shaken

The 1967 version of Casino Royale, starring David Niven, set an unlikely milestone: Its soundtrack album became famous among audio purists for the quality of its sound.

“The legend is that the original master tape had ‘mad’ levels on it,” audiophile Harry Pearson told the New York Times in 1991. “Once the meters pass zero, it means that you’re saturating the tape and running the risk of distortion. On ‘Casino,’ they used a supposedly very fancy grade of tape, and the engineers really pushed it, so the meters were typically running deep into the red — plus one, plus two, plus three, plus four.” The result is an extremely wide dynamic range.

A particular high point is Dusty Springfield’s “The Look of Love” (Track 2). Springfield recorded her vocal in a “tiny isolation booth, so on a really good system, you can hear her voice emerging from what sounds like a little hole in space. She’s not part of the general orchestral acoustic, and once your system gets to a certain point, you can hear that.”

Pearson said the soundtrack came to serve as a benchmark at Absolute Sound, the audiophile bible he founded in 1973. “Whenever we get a piece of equipment that we think is setting new records, out comes ‘Casino,’” he said. “The better your system gets, the more you get out of that album.”

(Thanks, Allen.)

from Futility Closet https://www.futilitycloset.com/2019/02/22/stirred-not-shaken-2/