North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Ramblings on 7 Habits to Logotherapy to Objectivism and how it prepares one

Ramblings on 7 Habits to Logotherapy to Objectivism and how it prepares one for difficulties...

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Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 296
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I am re-reading Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
I first read it about 12 years ago when I was going through a difficult time in my life, and it actually helped me quite a bit. I was a practicing Christian at the time, and I have to say that it helped me much more than the religious texts and bible reading I was encouraged to do and read. So, the book has always had a special place in my mind. (I may start another thread on the book as I get through it more if others would like to discuss it from an Objectivist point of view.)

Anyway, I picked it up again to re-read, because I figured if it helped me once (setting priorities as a means of time management/life balance/values, etc.), then perhaps I could get more out of it this time. The reason I figured it was a good time now, is because since studying Objectivism, I find that I am starting to get a little better at picking this up. (I am not sure how exactly to word this other than, I think my thought processes and thinking are starting to get a little better.)

ANYHOO...I have always remembered Covey mentioning Viktor Frankyl, and how he was able to mentally survive being persecuted by the Nazis. What I had forgotten is that he developed a philosophy called "Logotherapy". Apparantly being in a concentration camp he really refined and put his philosophy to the test. Now, I didn't have good ol' Google back in the early 90s, but I do now, so a-Googling I did go....

On the surface, it seems to have some similarities to Objectivism in that you need to take responsibility for yourself.
The basic tenets I found on a quick search are as follows:

1. Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
2. Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
3. We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or a least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.


Now, one thing I did find interesting, though, was an article by a psychoanalyst that had followed Objectivism for over 20 years, but when his parents died, felt that the philosophy had failed him. He didn't think it prepared someone for dealing with such a tragedy. He was given Frankel's book Man's Search for Meaning, and dropped Objectivism altogether. The first thing I thought was: What? Did you really understand to drop it when you may need it the most?

I still have a lot to study, but I think I have a hard time explaining this to others. How would you say that following Objectivist principles can help you in time of need? I am not sure that telling someone just something like "it is reasonable, and you would understand why you are having these difficult emotions" would be enough.

Any thoughts?
A former member
Post #: 21
"God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference."

This is what Objectivism (not God) can give you. More importantly, this is what your own mind will give you when you use it to understand what's going on around you.

I am experiencing some of the worst personal trajedies I have ever experienced--the deaths of several people I have loved--but I have not once thought of giving up objectivity, or of disregarding Ayn Rand's ideas. I cannot change what lead to the deaths of my loved ones (disease) or death itself. I accept this because I know I cannot change the nature of reality (in this context, the nature of human mortality or the nature of disease), and that reality is the only foundation for proper thought. I am sad, and long for them to be with me again, but primarily I intend to live my life on this earth the best I can--I don't want a fantasy life spent longing for the impossible.

This is not something Objectivism (in Ayn Rand's writings) taught me, but something that looking at and grasping reality (and wanting passionately to live well) allowed me to understand. Objectivism, in terms of Ayn Rand's work, can only help solidify or clarify what one must understand on one's own. It seems to me that if a person faces a trajedy and thinks that Objectivism has failed them, then that person hasn't really understood its principles and insight on his own.

For a great clarification of what I mean, read the essay "The Metaphysical versus the Man-made" by Ayn Rand (from Philosophy: Who Needs It). She starts with that same quote, and explains the various misunderstandings people have when they don't accept the primacy of existence. I think this is the problem you are witnessing.
A former member
Post #: 104
[Sherry said]
I still have a lot to study, but I think I have a hard time explaining this to others. How would you say that following Objectivist principles can help you in time of need? I am not sure that telling someone just something like "it is reasonable, and you would understand why you are having these difficult emotions" would be enough.

Any thoughts?

I agree with Sherry that going through rough times (including the loss of loved ones in various manners, i.e. death, they've changed to something one can't stand any more, or they have abandoned rationality, etc.) is not the time to abandon reason or Objectivism (if that was your philosophy at the time).

When one is going through emotional termoil, that is when one needs to be primacy of existence orientated consciously and explicitly; as difficult as that may be and even if one slips a little bit by being overcome by emotions -- i.e. the sense that it may not be worth while going on because of the loss.

Existence is still there in all of it's glory -- which means that pursuing other values is still available -- even during the hard times, and holding on to that idea is the most difficult thing to do. Objectivism helps because it is so existence and rationally oriented, and it would prevent one from becoming a mystic and longing to see that other one sometime in the hereafter, which will cut your expectancies regarding life way down until one is simply waiting to die.

And keep in mind that Objectivism isn't there to help you deal with death, it is there to help you deal with life; to live life on earth; which, unfortunately, includes the possibility of death or other loses of loved ones.

One has to be careful not to become primacy of consciousness, in either the form of longing for the hereafter or longing for a loved one to change, because wishing won't make it so.

I wrote a poem about this that sums it up rather well. It's on my website at:

Seriously


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Philosophic essays based on the philosophy of Ayn Rand

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Applied Philosophy Online .com

Where Ideas Are Brought Down to Earth!

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All rights reserved 2006 by Thomas M. Miovas, Jr

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Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 299
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Thanks for the replies, and the essay recommendation. I have the book, but I don't remember reading that one yet, so I will.

I was thinking about this yesterday on my way to pick up my youngest minions from school. And I realized that perhaps if one tries to really show they value the people in the life they care about, perhaps that would bring them comfort if a tragedy occurs. It doesn't change the reality of the loss, but can help them decide more how they are going to react to it. For example, a person that really values their friend should show that they do in their dealings with them. If they don't, and their friend passes away, there could be a lot of guilt (whether earned or not) that they endure with other feelings of loss.

OR....another thing, I would think that Objectivist that truly understand guilt, when it is actually earned is isn't, may cause them to not have to deal with additional negative feelings if they suffer the loss of a loved one, or go through a divorce, etc.

I am not saying it very well, but I keep thinking back to when my father died. He and I had patched things up quite a bit several months before he died. Because of that, I didn't have to deal with feelings of guilt and negativity that some of my other siblings did because they didn't have (or didn't make) an opportunity to do that. I would think that someone trying using the Objectivist philosophy as a guide would do what they could do mend relationships that they value, even if it is uncomfortable to make a step to do so.

I have thought a lot about Tara Smith's speech about Judging "Think, Judge, Act" when she talked about not with holding judgement, especially when it is praise not just criticism. That is something, I think if we applied, could help us avoid a lot of negative situations and bad "feelings" that perhaps a lot of other people get mired down in.

Well...I am all over the map...but those are my random thoughts. Very sad it has taken a few days to put together hahah.
Santiago Valenzue...
sanjavalen
Dallas, TX
Post #: 147
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Mourning is a proper response to a tragic loss. It is an emotional reaction to the loss of a great value. It is not wrong to feel awful when something extremely bad happens in your life. On the contrary, the opposite is true.

Objectivism doesn't equip you to deal with loss per se, any more than it equips you to be a great businessman, or a good computer programmer, or anything else. What it does is it gives you the tools to analyze what has happened and why you are mourning (and if/that it is proper.)

In dealing with a severe loss the only cardinal rule is to remain rational - not (I must emphasize) unemotional, but rational. Most people have many more things to live for and find comfort than a single thing, and if that is lost then, while tragic, their whole lives are not ended as a result. The main thing to keep in mind is: This is tragic, it is proper that I should mourn its loss, but I still have much to live for and take joy in, when I am done mourning.

Objectivism can't fail anyone in a tough period of life. People can find themselves unable to deal with their suffering because of false premises they have, or they may find the lure of an irrational stance (not necessarily saying that logotherapy is, as I don't know much about it, just speaking in general) brings them some temporary comfort.

In the end you must acknowledge that A is A and that the loss of something very valuable to you is possible. Your responsibility lies, not in pretending that it won't hurt, or that some mourning over its loss is not appropriate, but to keep in mind that your life holds great value even without the loss of something important, and that it is still worth living and enjoying.

Anyway, I seem to have rambled on quite a bit. I hope that brings some clarity to the discussion.
jlife
jlife
Dallas, TX
Post #: 2
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Hello Sherry!

I have been thinking of you and what support, if any, that I could offer that might help to alleviate some of your suffering. I think that to the degree we love and experience life, we will suffer when we are confronted with the loss of our deepest values. The challenge is how to cope with the loss. I always thought of myself like Kira in "We the Living", a warrior ready to fight for my life and values; but, when I lost our son, I felt like a nuclear bomb had been dropped on me. The death of a loved one is the most horrible absolute. Death was not something I could fight. I never imagined being so totally helpless and that my battle would be with myself- to learn how to accept such a devastating loss.

The death of a loved one or a relationship of deep value is the ultimate test of living in reality. Objectivism does offer the philosophical framework to cope with all aspects of life- including death. Ayn Rand's philosophy is the only one that I know of that is based on honesty (which is the commitment to reality). This commitment helped me face what no one wants to face: the loss of a son or daughter. I, too, like Chad Merritt, recited the quotation "God, grant me ..." but I re-worded it and said to myself "JulieAnne, give yourself the serenity to accept the things you cannot change ...." It is true what Chad says. I cannot change the nature of reality (my son's death) and I cannot live my life in fantasy (insanity) soothing myself with the words of well-intentioned Christians who said to me ?your son is in a better place," or "he's in the arms of the Lord," or worse yet, "all things happen for a good reason." Shortly after our son's death, I remember locking myself in the bathroom and sitting alone, sobbing on the bathroom floor in total despair. When I could cry no longer, I noticed an article advertised on the cover of Life Extension magazine- an article by Dr. Michael West, author of "The Immortal Cell" and stem cell/therapeutic cloning researcher. He had just lost his mother whom he dearly loved; and, in anger and frustration, he vowed to fight death! I was shocked at this concept! Of course it was too late to save my son, but he had verbalized my feelings about death! He had turned his despair into positive, rational action! (This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read!)

I do think that the loss of personal relationships can be as painful as death when it is as irreconcilable as death. The total, absolute absence of hope is so difficult to bear. Sometimes, however, as remote as it may seem, you may be able to ever so slightly open the mind of a person's thinking, and then you have hope. Hope changes everything. Hope is the essential difference between life and death. On rare occasion, I have even seen the most incredible transformation take place in a person where one would have thought none was possible. If it is a high value relationship you have lost, you might want to think of yourself like Kira or another of Ayn Rand's heroes, and keep reading, keep searching, keep trying to find a way to communicate with your loved one.

As a teacher of children for many years, I learned from Haim Ginott, the author of "Between Parent and Child" the importance of verbalizing feelings (the book is no longer in print, but I probably have a copy I could loan you, if you like). When one has his/her feelings verbalized, it helps clear the mind of emotion so that one can reason. I have seen this happen literally hundreds of times in the classroom with children and when working with adults, too. Perhaps this book would be of help to you in opening doors that seem impossible to open. Sometimes people get lost and can't sort out their thinking. They reach an impasse of fear, for example, and cannot reason. Learning to "verbalize" such emotions for another can often help a person overcome seemingly insurmountable emotions.

In the interim, to express the pain, I found that music gave voice to my soul. Sometimes it was the music of language in the form of poetry. I actually found a piece of music by Madonna (I typically do not listen to her music!) that echoed the tear drops of my weeping soul. I played it constantly on the hard days (such as the monthly anniversary of our son's death). I think it is important to acknowledge your pain (and sometimes even to let others share it with you). It may help you to console yourself by writing down the words you would use to console your closest friend in a similar situation and read the words over and over to yourself. There is no one who knows how much you are suffering better than you do or the words that would most comfort you.

Objectivism will give you the principles to anchor yourself in reality. Each of has to discover the psychological techniques to support the principles.

I wish I could put my arms around you and tell you it will be all right.
Your friend,
JulieAnne



ORGANIZER'S NOTE:
Edited to help correct punctuation characters that Meetup's limited character set does not recognize.
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 313
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Objectivism will give you the principles to anchor yourself in reality. Each of has to discover the psychological techniques to support the principles.

I think that is the answer that I have been coming to, but wasn't sure how to put it.
Thanks Julie, for that and everything else you posted. It is very helpful.
A former member
Post #: 109
[JulieAnne said]
Objectivism will give you the principles to anchor yourself in reality. Each of has to discover the psychological techniques to support the principles.

Objectivism is primacy of existence even when one is in a state of psychological turmoil. When one has lost a loved one, it is important to keep in mind that love is all-embracing; which means that the loss is all-embracing as well. In such cases, one's subconscious will be throwing all sorts of dis-integrating disconnections at oneself -- i.e. one will be reminded of the loss in almost everything that one is aware of and in whatever one is doing.

That person was integrated into your live to a large extent, and when that person is gone it is as if one's mind will not work properly, especially on the sub-conscious level. It is the subconscious that keeps track of and operates the previously integrated material of the conscious mind. One can think of the subconscious as a lot of integrated subroutines, and the loss of a major value breaks the connection between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind -- i.e. those subroutines are no longer functioning subroutines that have a connection to reality.

Perhaps one loved to chat with that person and has automatized the brief conversations with the subconscious keeping tract of where you both left off at the last brief conversation. Once that person is gone from one's life, that subroutine no longer has anything to keep tract of along those lines, because the minor chats are no longer available.

With a more intimate relationship, many more subroutines that are no longer functional are involved, and in essence, one has to go through the effort of changing those subroutines.

In that sense, I think there can exist proper scientific psychological techniques for doing this. In other words, it's not as if each person has to start from scratch and re-do the whole study of psychology, at least in principle. There are techniques of how to change one's subconscious reactions when there has been a major disruption of the integrated subroutines due to the loss of a loved one.

Psychology has not yet reached the level of an exact science, but if those subroutine disruptions prevent oneself from living one's life, then seeking professional help, if one can't do it on one's own, is the next logical step.

[edited to correct typo]

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Philosophic essays based on the philosophy of Ayn Rand

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Applied Philosophy Online .com

Where Ideas Are Brought Down to Earth!

tmiovas@appliedphilosophyonline.com

All rights reserved 2006 by Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.

A former member
Post #: 111
[Sherry said]I have always remembered Covey mentioning Viktor Frankyl, and how he was able to mentally survive being persecuted by the Nazis. What I had forgotten is that he developed a philosophy called "Logotherapy".
<snip>
1. Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
2. Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
3. We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or a least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.


I've tried to do a little research on this via the Internet, and I wasn't able to come up with much aside from the above, at least not without having to sign up for something. Without much else to go on, it is difficult to say if Logotherapy is similar to Objectivism or not. However, I would say that finding meaning in life is not the Objectivist approach.

The meaning of life is what you make of it; what you make of the fact that you are alive and have certain capabilities -- the ability to reason and to act on your best judgment being the top capabilities. In other words, like most other aspects of Objectivism, it's not "finding a meaning out there" (intrinsicism) versus "finding a meaning within yourself" (subjectivism) but rather an objective approach "make a meaning out of what you understand about existence, as in having a life-long goal."

On the face of it, since Mr. Frankyl was in a concentration camp and still found meaning in life, it sounds very much like some sort of Stoicism; whereby the suffering becomes part of the meaning of life, as in "this is a test I need to endure."

Objectivism is not about enduring pain and suffering as some sort of test of will power, but rather in fighting against it in order to achieve long-range happiness. In other words, let your future value that you want to achieve become the motivation for improving your lot, rather than accepting it because there isn't anything you can do about it.

Suffering a great loss, as in a loved one or being thrown in a concentration camp, are not something to endure, but to overcome; not by mentally accepting it as the given, but by accessing all of one's options and taking the best alternative action guided by thought to gain further values -- i.e. other loved ones or escaping.

The point is not to accept pain and suffering as the given about life; think of it as a temporary set-back on the road to achieving your own personal happiness.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$­$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Philosophic essays based on the philosophy of Ayn Rand

www.appliedphilosophyonline.com­

Applied Philosophy Online .com

Where Ideas Are Brought Down to Earth!

tmiovas@appliedphilosophyonline.com

All rights reserved 2006 by Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.

Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 314
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That is a very important difference, making the meaning as opposed to finding it. Excellent point to bring up, and I hadn't really thought of it that way.
Maybe that is one of the keys that makes this philosophy work.
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