Off (And On) Topic: Man’s Search For Meaning

mans search for meaningI have just finished reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl, an Auschwitz survivor.

In short, the book is in two parts. The first is Frankl’s account of surviving the concentration camps of the World War II, and his observations as to why some people survived whilst others perished. In the second part of the book, Frankl discusses his theories of logotherapy, based upon his earlier observations as a former concentration camp prisoner.

Although not specifically aimed at musicians with focal dystonia, several quotes from “Man’s Search for Meaning” book were inspiring and enlightening. Towards the end of the book, a possible solution for writer’s cramp and other focal dystonia symptoms is given. I have included these quotes here also.

Man’s Search for Meaning: Quotes

“He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How. (Nietzsche)”

“[There are] three possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times.”

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”

“A man who let himself decline because he could not see any future goal found himself occupied with retrospective thoughts. In a different connection, we have already spoken of the tendency there was to look into the past, to help make the present, with all its horrors, less real. But in robbing the present of its reality there lay a certain danger. It became easy to overlook the opportunities…”

“Those who know how close the connection is between the state of mind of a man – his courage and hope, or lack of them – and the state of immunity in his body will understand that the sudden loss of hope and courage can have a deadly effect.”

“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”

To a patient with anticipatory anxiety, resulting in excessive sweating:
“In order to cut this circle formation I advised the patient, in the event that sweating should recur, to resolve deliberately to show people how much he could sweat. A week later he returned to report that whenever he met anyone who triggered his anticipatory anxiety, he said to himself, ‘I only sweated out a quart before, but now I’m going to pour at least ten quarts!’ The result was that, after suffering from his phobia for four years, he was able, after a single session, to free himself permanently of it within one week.
The reader will note that this procedure consists of a reversal of the patient’s attitude, inasmuch as his fear is replaced by a paradoxical wish. By this treatment, the wind is taken out of the sails of the anxiety.”

“The neurotic who learns to laugh at himself may be on the way to self-management, perhaps to cure.”

“The following patient was a bookkeeper who had been treated by many doctrs and in several clinics without any therapeutic success. When he was admitted to my hospital department, he was in extreme despair, confessing that he was close to suicide. For some years, he had suffered from a writer’s cramp (task-specific focal dystonia, – JG) which had recently become so severe that he was in danger of losing his job. Therefore, only immediate short-term therapy could alleviate the situation. In starting treatment, Dr. Eva Kozdera recommended to the patient that he do just the opposite of what he usually had done; namely, instead of trying to write as neatly and legibly as possible, to write with the worst possible scrawl. He was advised to say to himself, ‘Now I will show the world what a good scribbler I am!’ And at the moment in which he deliberately trired to scribble, he was unable to do so. ‘I treid to scrawl but simply could not do it’, he said the next day.”

If you suffer from Musician’s Focal Dystonia, have you experimented with the idea of trying to consciously induce your dystonic symptoms?

What were the results?

More about logotherapy here.

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