• A LESSON FOR LIFE

    By: Maria Marshall, PhD
    Psychotherapist , Author
    Co-Founder, Canadian Association of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis

    I am told my family on my father’s side comes from Moravia the region of Europe where Viktor Frankl’s ancestors lived. In the XVIII century they migrated from Moravia to Bacska, a territory of Hungary, where they were landowners. On my father’s side, I am told, my Grandfather was Jewish. During WWII he was deported to a work camp. I am told, the rest of his family members, save a few ones who managed to escape, were directly deported to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. About sixty members on that side of the family perished in the Holocaust.


    My Grandfather was married to my Grandmother, who was Catholic. He survived the Holocaust, but he never talked about his experiences as I was growing up. There were letters, objects, and relatives. There were stories that my parents told me never to tell outside the family. This is how I grew up, in a sheltered, happy home, the oldest of seven children.


    In the early 70s my father completed his doctoral degree in neuro-psychiatry as a student of Dr. Viktor Frankl. I am told that I was introduced to Dr. Frankl when I was a baby, during one of my parents’ visit in his home in Vienna. Although I do not remember it, this is where my friendship with the “Father of Logotherapy” began.


    I read “Man’s Search for Meaning” in my teenage years, in German. Actually, that is how I started to learn German. I absorbed every word, pondered every sentence, and I cried over the passages describing the prisoners’ suffering. I embraced logotherapy with all of my being.


    Now, growing up, there comes a time in life when we are individually challenged to choose, and to stand for our convictions, or flee. One such occasion happened to me when I was 17 years old.


    At that time I was attending the Secondary Medical School in my home town. We had regular lectures at the school, and attended rotations at various departments of the hospital as student nurse attendants.


    It was the time when political meetings were organised more and more frequently in the center of our city, and one such meeting was taking place that afternoon. The meetings were nationalistic gatherings, which fueled intolerance and hate, and which were ideologically fueled by those who sought the destruction of peace, unity and solidarity.


    The principal came to our class and informed us that our school will attend this meeting. Many greeted the opportunity as a free afternoon. The principal had the doors of the school and the classroom locked, so as none of the students could leave the property, but had to wait to be collectively part-taking in the demonstrations.


    I had a dilemma: I did not want to participate in any way in meetings that I judged to be based on wrong ideology. But I did not want any reprisals or punishment for non-conforming either. With a sudden determination I rose from my seat, I opened the window, and I climbed through and jumped down to the soft green grass. I went to the bicycle racks, I got my bike, and carefully went around the block to avoid the school heading home.


    On my way, throngs of workers came out of the factories heading toward the center. I had to push myself against the crowd to make my way home. All the way through I was breathing in the fresh air, and I had this wonderful warm feeling in my heart that I did the right thing. I had a keen awareness of my freedom, at least freedom in spirit. My spirit soared above the situation, and led me home, my body obeyed. All my senses were very alert and concentrated on the task. It was the meaningful choice my conscience dictated... I was reaching for freedom, I was choosing freedom, and I was acting in my area of freedom, choosing hope. As I moved, I was aware that I have been protected, wanted, and loved. I was very grateful that I could, in my own small ways be part of a "greater struggle," and secretly, I felt proud of it.


    Upon arriving home, I was met with my mother’s puzzled and concerned look: "So early home from school?" "Mom, I think it is time we need to leave..." I gasped for air. --It was my first conscious act of defiance to participate in something that I did not believe in, and which later turned out to be the beginning of the civil war in our country...


    Many years have passed since then. My parents and I moved to Canada, where a new life with new challenges awaited us. Viktor Frankl's logotherapy helped to plant a seed in my young soul which proved to be crucial for facing some of those hurdles ahead. I had it solidly anchored in my soul that we have a body, and a mind, and we are spirit. While our body and mind are fragile, and subject to the environment and its limitations, our spirit is free to take a stand toward our circumstances. It is indestructible and lives forever. Even if the access to it may be temporarily blocked, it is there. Nobody and nothing can take away or destroy our spirit, and as a healthy resource it is always there.


    This thought helped me immensely when I was a fresh immigrant, when I even had to struggle to express myself in words. I felt my spirit alive, and fresh, guiding me to persist, to show courage, to not despair.


    I eventually graduated from University with a Major in psychology. Then, I went on to study Counselling and Human Development with Professor Dr. Robert C. Barnes, who is a proponent of logotherapy in the US. I have been blessed with the opportunity of completing my PhD degree in counselling psychology with Professor Dr. William Hague, who supported my interest in Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy. My Doctoral Thesis used a phenomentological-hermeneutic inquiry to explore the philosophical and practical uses of Logotherapy in counselling psychology. It was accepted for fulfillment of the requirements in September, 1997, the year when Dr. Frankl passed away.


    Subsequently, I studied logotherapy with the Viktor Frankl Institute in Texas, and the South German Institute of Logotherapy, headed by Dr. Elisabeth Lukas, the foremost recognised student of Dr. Frankl’s. I obtained my Diplomate in Logotherapy credential with both the Institute in the US and Dr. Lukas in Germany. I registered a psychologist, and worked in clinical practice, using logotherapy.


    In 2002, I met my dear husband in England, originally from the Canary Islands, Spain. He was a psychiatrist with an interest in logotherapy. We got married and we lived in England together.


    In 2004, we immigrated back to Canada continuing our work on logotherapy and practicing as psychotherapists. We founded the Canadian Association of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis (Canadian Institute of Logotherapy), to promote the study and practice of logotherapy. We have five children ages 8, 7, 5, 4, and 2. We currently reside in Ottawa, Ontario, where we established the Ottawa Institute of Logotherapy. This is our private psychotherapy practice where we offer courses on logotherapy. We authored two books together: “Logotherapy Revisited: Review of the Tenets of Viktor E. Frankl’s Logotherapy,” (2012) and “Healing Ministry: Experiences with Viktor E. Frankl’s Logotherapy in Psychiatry, Psychology, Clinical Counselling, and Psychotherapy.” (2013).


    Viktor Frankl witnessed that our spirit is the source of our search for meaning, every day, linked to Ultimate Meaning, which shines into our world through everyday events, people, and circumstances. I try to keep this in mind every day, whether I am in my office, serving my clients, or at home, serving my husband and my children.

    This is my story in a nutshell. This is my life as it has been this far.

    While we all have our own struggles, I feel gratitude for the prophetic words of Viktor Frankl, who reminded me of these truths, and provided some helpful guidelines for the journey ahead.

    "True friend is the one who listens to your heart, and reminds you of the melody of it when you have forgotten it" --said Dr. Lukas. Certainly Viktor Frankl is one of those "prophets" and one of those friends who accompanied my life, and who accompanies the lives of all those who seek to know his life-giving and enriching thought and work.


    Maria MarshallMaria Marshall, PhD, is Registrant of the Canadian College of Professional Counsellors and Psychotherapists. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with Honors at the University of Calgary, Alberta. She obtained her Master of Education Degree in Counselling and Human Development at Hardin-Simmons University, in Abilene, Texas. She completed her PhD in Counselling Psychology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. She completed her Diplomate in Logotherapy credential with Dr. Elisabeth Lukas at the South German Institute of Logotherapy in Fuerstenfeldbruck, Germany, and a the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy, TX. She is psychotherapist in private practice at the Ottawa Institute of Logotherapy, an accredited member of the International Association of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis, Vienna. She and her husband are founders of the Canadian Association of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis, and authors of two books on logotherapy:


    Marshal, M, & Marshall, E. (2012). Logotherapy Revisited: Review of the Tenets of Viktor E. Frankl’s Logotherapy. Ottawa Institute of Logotherapy.

    Marshall, M. & Marshall, E. (2013). Healing Ministry: Experiences with Viktor E. Frankl’s Logotherapy in Psychiatry, Psychology, Clinical Counselling, and Psychotherapy. Ottawa Institute of Logotherapy.

    Both books are available at: www.amazon.com


    Ottawa Institute of Logotherapy
    160 Terence Matthews Crescent - Unit F1
    Ottawa, ON K2M 0B2
    Tel.: (613) 599-3299
    www.ltea.ca

  • Viktor Frankl Movie: Screening Events

    For three years now Filmmaker Alexander Vesely and Executive Producer Mary Cimiluca have worked together to produce Viktor & I, An Alexander Vesely Film.    From the beginning one of the "Big Dreams" has been to share the Film with as many people as possible on College & University Campuses, Conferences and Ticketed Events worldwide.  


    Next week we begin!  Thanks to the generous support of our Sponsors- The University of Mississippi and James Madison University, we are traveling to the East Coast of the United States to begin the Journey.  Special thanks are in order for Stefan Schulenberg, PhD, Associate Professor of the Department of Psychology at the University of Mississippi and William F. Evans, PhD, Associate Professor of the Department of Psychology at James Madison University for their stewardship.  Without these two champions- none of it would be possible.  And, we have a very special surprise in store for them.....shhhhh!!!

    Join in:

    Wednesday,  February 22, 2012      

    5:30pm - 8:30pm 

    Brevard Auditorium

    The University of Mississippi



    Monday, February 27, 2012

    6:00pm-9pm

    HHS 2301 (JMU East Campus)

    James Madison University



  • A View From Canada: Victor Sinclair: Positive Imperative

    A View From Canada:  Victor Sinclair, Founder, Positive Imperative


    I have been a fan and promoter of Viktor Frankl’s work since I first read what would remain the most life changing book in my life, “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Dr. Frankl’s book touched my head and my heart. And, this book became part of the genesis for what would become the Positive Imperative. It's indeed an honor to be writing to help promote the Viktor Frankl Movie as a humble representative of this beautiful country I love, called Canada.


    Canada is still very young in both history and maturity, and celebrated its 154th birthday July 1st. The First Nations people, (North American Aboriginals) were the original inhabitants of our great country, and now live in both urban and rural environments as well as geographically defined areas called reserves. 


    As a product of its aboriginal inhabitants and the colonial expansion of the British and French in the 18th and 19th centuries, Canada was established after a battle giving Great Britain sovereignty over what became the Dominion of Canada. Two official languages were established; French in Quebec and English in the rest of the country. Canada began as four provinces or regions, eventually expanding into its current demo-geographic of 10 provinces and three territories, making it the world’s second largest country in geographical area (next to Russia).


    In addition to our geographic growth Canada has expanded from its three founding peoples to a multi cultural population of just over 34 million people who immigrated from Eastern Europe, Africa and East and South Asia.


    This immigration to Canada was responsible for a vibrant multi-cultural mosaic of diverse populations living peacefully as Canadians across the country, and in the main in large urban centers like Vancouver Calgary, Montreal and Toronto. Recently named the most multicultural city in the world, Toronto boasts a population of 2.5 million people with 140 different mother tongues.


    A visual representation of the typical Canadian becomes difficult as you may select an East Coast Fisherman, a Quebec logger, a Southern Ontario business person, a Northern Ontario Miner, a Prairie Farmer, Alberta Oil worker, a BC Technology worker, a Scientist/Research Expert or Inuit Airline Pilot. This cross section of Canadian stereotypes is bolstered by our reputation for exports in Natural Resources and talent, including notably famous singers, actors, scientists and hockey players.


    Canada won a world record of 15 Gold Medals in the 2010 Winter Olympics, including Gold Medals for hockey, our national sport (Winter), shared with Lacrosse (Summer). Canadians were thrilled at our athletic accomplishments awakening the first manifestation of coast to coast flag waiving this generation of Canadians has ever seen. The pride of a diverse, multi-cultural resonated with every Olympic win, and with every wave of our national flag.


    What makes Canada a perfect match for the film, Viktor & I, An Alexander Vesely Film and his ideas of Logotherapy is the open minded approach of Canadians, which is both reflective of the young age of our country, and our multi-cultural diversity.


    The importance of the Viktor Frankl Movie and its important paradigm shifting ideas comes at a critical point in world history. I believe that we are in the midst of a new battle, a third World War which is not being fought on the ground, area or seas, but is a battle of our minds. We are not fighting against a traditional opponent, but rather against the darkness of ignorance, fear and terror. Ignorance, fear and terror are the enemies we fight, they represent the war before us and remind us of the horrors of the Nazi regime that Frankl himself was victim to.


    On the other side of the battle, we have the side of light and knowledge which is andragogical in nature (theory of adult self-directed learning developed by Malcolm Knowles), and whose inclusivity of design and humanistic beliefs is in total alignment with the work of Dr. Frankl.


    Thought leadership is a positive force in today's world and it includes the work of Dr. Frankl as a leader in investigative learning. Logotherapy can be linked to other labels in Psychology like Positive Psychology, (founded by Martin Seligman), who also includes the importance of finding purpose to mental health and happiness.


    As a Canadian who holds the values of this young country, and its burgeoning ability to align diversity, multiculturalism with a positive attitude, laws and freedoms that form the foundation of our democracy, and as an ardent believer and supporter of Dr. Frankl’s work, it remains an honour and a distinct pleasure to contribute to helping the Victor Frankl Movie gain exposure in our country.


    Victor Sinclair is founder of the Positive Imperative and the Positive Music Imperative a rational approach to understanding and responding Positive, Neutral and Negative factors in today’s world. 

    http://www.positiveimperative.com






  • "The View From Hong Kong SAR Under China"

       

    The Application of Logotherapy on Prevention of Suicide in the Youth of Hong Kong

    Cindy Leung

    Hong Kong is located in eastern Asia, on the southeast coast of the People’s Republic of China, facing the South China Sea. With a humble beginning as a small fishing village in 1800s, Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the opium wars in 1841. In a few decades, Hong Kong was transformed from a rocky undeveloped mountainous terrain to a major entry point for global trade and seized the opportunity to become one of the world’s international leading financial centers today. In 1997, the sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred back to the Chinese government and became one of the special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China. According to the principle of “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong has a different political system from the Chinese mainland and enjoy independent judiciary functions.


    Under great influence of the British culture during the colonial era, we could precisely describe Hong Kong as having a “East meets West” culture in which food always holds an important place in our culture. The fusion of east and west makes Hong Kong so unique that it has a reputable label of "Gourmet Paradise" and "World's Fair of Food". The choice of international food is abundant. Wherever you go in Hong Kong, you can easily locate a restaurant that prepares Chinese, Japanese, Western and South-Eastern Asian cuisine.


    With the rising concern of suicidal problem among the youth, as a new beginner of logotherapy, I have a vision of applying logotherapy in prevention of suicide among the youth in Hong Kong. In 2006, more than 22% of the suicidal victims aged 25 or below claimed that the cause of their problems were related to family or school. Based on a survey for reasons of suicidal ideation among the adolescents, more than 50% of the respondents indicated that family problem was a major factor that contributed to their feeling of hopelessness. To name a few of these family problems, they include pressure from authoritarian parenting, low parental warmth, improper child-rearing practices and depressing family climate. Hong Kong is a highly competitive society. Most parents and students believe that the best way to earn an identity or recognition in the society is to graduate from a prestigious school with excellent school achievement and work in a big company with promising career development. Therefore, our educational competition starts as early as kindergarten. Nowadays, there is a growing trend of having our young children study in two different kindergartens for Chinese and English language training as well as attending training on music and sports after school in order to enrich their profile for application to study in one of the prestigious primary schools. For students who can not excel in their academic performance, they need to endure a lot of pressure from their family and peer group. Eventually, they become depressed and lose hope in life which resulted in committing suicide.


    According to the suicidal prevention program initiated by Dr. Viktor Frankl in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, we need to save our children and adolescents from committing suicide by helping them to find their meaning of life before they develop a sense of hopelessness in their problem situations. In the camp, Dr. Frankl’s suicide intervention teams were responsible for taking care of the new arrivals by easing their shock against the hostile living environment as well as keeping them up with hope for the future. The core belief of logotherapy is to help individuals to discover for themselves their reason for being. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Dr. Frankl quoted Nietzche saying, "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how" and wrote “The meaning of life always changes, but it never ceases”.


    After I read an article named “The Application of Logotherapy in Education” from Bianca Hirsch , I am excited to note that logotherapy, as a therapeutic tool, is useful in helping children and adults change behavior and attitudes and thus gain control in their lives. With its action-oriented approach, it allows the participants to assume responsibility for their own behavior. In this article, she has identified few working tools that could be used to strengthen our students in confronting their problem situations. (i) The logochart helps students to focus on specific activities, provides freedom to prioritize and choose, and identifies behaviors that can be incorporated (or eliminated) in order to enhance the individual’s growth and development. (2) Socratic dialogue may be used to help the students to identify their feelings, problems and concerns as well as bringing them into an awareness that they are not helpless victims; (3) For adolescents, the life purpose questionnaire can be used to measure the degree of life-meaning.


    As I build up my knowledge and understanding of logotherapy after attending the training offered by the Logotherapy Institute, I shall exhaust all available opportunities in Hong Kong to promote the application of logotherapy in helping the children to find their meaning of life and teach the parents to help their children to do so. Then, the greater China will be my next target for the promotion of using logotherapy in suicidal prevention.


    Cindy Leung
    "The View From Hong Kong SAR Under China"



  • A View From Mexico

       Maria Teresa Lemus de Vanek

                                                   Licensed Psychologist and Logotherapist


    I love my country, consider myself a true Franklian and was therefore honored to have been asked to share something about Mexico and how Dr. Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy is of influence.  Mexico is a large and great country, covering an area of around two million square kilometers with approximately ten thousand kilometers of beautiful shores. Acapulco and Cancun are famous tourist spots but there are a lot of lesser known halcyon spots.


    Considered the 4th mega diverse country, its biodiversity includes a large variety of flora and fauna with over twelve thousand of them only grown in Mexico. It is a multi-cultural country with thirty-seven thousand archaeological sites and sixty-five native languages with Spanish being the official language. Our country is also the most populated Spanish speaking country with over 100 million inhabitants.


    When you visit Mexico, you are visiting one of the 10 most visited countries in the world. Our people are cheerful and friendly and tourists come from all over looking for color, sun, music, fiesta and joy! Simply walking through our local markets is a feast of color and folklore featuring a variety of fruits and vegetables, hundreds of spicy peppers and locals in embroidered, colorful costumes…Mexican cuisine was recognized last year by the UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. We have a great variety of delicious dishes.


    Mexico is not an easy country to rule. Our population consists of approximately 20% young people under the age of 21, all looking for the equally important opportunities of education and jobs. There are high level schools and universities yet we have over five million people who cannot read or write. We have great socio-cultural contrasts: the richest men on earth and poverty as seen in the poorest of countries.


    These days, there is a looming, serious crisis: drug trafficking; violence and corruption are but a few of its symptoms…Mexico has transitioned from being a drug transit country to a drug consuming country causing insecurity and hopelessness to linger in the air. Many groups are putting forth their best efforts to deal with this challenge but it is not easy. Our most important unit – family- is the place where our people are struggling to foster unity and health.


    Dr. Frankl’s Logotherapy –healing through meaning-has a lot to offer our Society! Since his first visit in 1978 at Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico has welcomed his concepts and teachings with enthusiasm and hope. Dr. Frankl invited our Youth to build a meaningful way of life and all countries to cement a social commitment in favor of justice and peace.


    We were all encouraged to ponder meaning over fear and violence, consciousness over drugs and self – destruction, responsibility over abuse and laxness and above all to favor a vital attitude to work in favor of life and growth for all.  Viktor & I, An Alexander Vesely Film is already refreshing our will for meaning in all countries. The world is in need of it!


    Maria Teresa Lemus de Vanek
    Licensed Psychologist and Logotherapist
    Founder of www.logoforo.com
    The Spanish speaking site of Logotherapy



  • A View From Croatia

        Tatjana Vucinic, MSc. in Psychology, Zagreb-Croatia



    Thank you so much for the opportunity to write about my country, our people and its wonders. Although I am truly cosmopolitan in the global sense, my only real homeland is the small but lovely country located in the heart of Europe – Croatia. Situated along the Adriatic Sea and its hinterland, Croatia stretches from the slopes of the Alps into the Pannonian Valley to the banks of the Danube and Drava river.


     Geographically, our country is divided into three distinct regions: the Coastal region, the Mountain region and the Pannonian region, offering variety and beauty through the natural “faces” of the landscape. Founded on the ruins of the Roman Empire, Croatia shared many of its battles and insights with other countries in Western Europe. Currently, Croatia operates as one of Europe’s parliamentary democracies, making it a valid candidate for the European Union.


    The population of Croatia consists mainly of Croats (89.6%) but I see people becoming more open to other nationalities as well, especially in the years after the war. The Croatian War of Independence, fought 1991-1995, started to break some deeply held barriers and convictions about our identity as a Nation. As much as the war itself posed a great shock and loss for many as well tremendous hardship, it somehow brought a much deeper sense of self-realization both individually and on the national level. It brought something new and brought us somehow closer to our ultimate meaning--leading me to the subject of Logotherapy and Dr. Viktor Frankl, my one true inspiration.


    Honestly, as an MSc in Psychology, I was interested in the humanistic side of this relatively new science. Psychology offers many things and in Zagreb, capital of Croatia where I live, and in the Netherlands where I completed my Masters program, the primary emphasis was on experimental psychology and its approach to some of the basic phenomena of human behavior and thought. Although I appreciate this view, and find it essential for the further development of psychology, I was searching for something bigger, something greater--something with deeper meaning. I longed for something that would afford me, as a psychologist, not only professional validity but also satisfy my deep, nurtured longings and desires as a person. And I found it in the life and work of Dr. Viktor Frankl.


    Since Croatia doesn’t have opportunities at present for further research in Logotherapy and regrettably is not focused on this field of psychology, I faced some obstacles on my path. With our Faculty, the literature was limited; therefore, I sought out more knowledge on my own. I am very proud of the fact that my B.A. thesis explored the meaning of life –this approach was pretty new in my country in 2003.


    I write the historical facts to explain that in my view, Croatia has a great hunger for more knowledge of Dr. Viktor Frankl’s work and I must say that interest in the area of meaning thought, are huge here. This can be evidenced by the popularity of Frankl’s books, which sell so well among Croatians. Sadly, Logotherapy here, as all over the world, needs more recognition in scientific circles. I think Viktor Frankl and his brilliant contribution to the greatest part of psychology, deserves much more recognition, in fact, it deserves all the recognition it can achieve.




    The movie Viktor & I, An Alexander Vesely Film, is such a good way to spread the word of hope and meaning to us all. In these times of change where people seek higher truths and comfort in their everyday lives, this documentary and all that it represents fits in perfectly. I hope it will bring us all closer together, lower the perceived differences among people and reveal the RIGHT perspective on the differences which may continue to separate us from one another.




    I just hope that as a psychologist and true humanistic person, I will have the opportunity to study further and deepen my own knowledge in Logotherapy. With further knowledge, I believe I will be better able to help those in need and who would benefit from uncovering their own meaningful life. I am sure there are many!


    I salute you all and wish you the very best from the bottom of my heart.


    Tatjana Vucinic, MSC in Psychology, Zagreb-Croatia


    Producers Note: One of the many ways that Tatjana helps the world is through her writings of poetry, some set to music. By creating music for her poetry and singing too, she hopes to respond in a creative and fruitful way to all those everyday requests that life puts upon us all.


    Start to hear the beautiful song which she wrote and performs –“Believe in Me”



  • A View From Argentina


    Sarita Alvarez Sanguedolce, MD, Psychiatrist.

    Member of the research project "Genetic Factors in Human Diseases"

    National University in Tucuman

    Student of Logotherapy

    How daunting and charming is this thrilling challenge of speaking about my beloved Argentina, the Argentineans and Dr. Frankl! At the very beginning of this invitation a struggle began within my mind and my heart, where my memories and wishes clash while reflecting about my Country and countrymen. You see, as life itself, they are full of contrasts, and it’s hard to simplify in words the mixture that brings to life a most unique way of being. It is, however, worth a try.



    Argentina is a country of contrasts, even in its’ landscapes: magnificent waterfalls, breathtaking mountains, wild coastlines, endless pastures, arid deserts, exuberant jungles, Antarctic cold, subtropical heat, ancient glaciers, modern buildings, lonely villages, crowded cities...




    We began to exist as a country about 200 years ago. Actually, we had two births: May 25th, 1810 when the first local government was created, and July 9th, 1816, when we declared our independency from Spain. During the early years, a huge portion of native inhabitants were killed and many immigrants came from Europe -mostly from Spain and Italy- and Middle-Eastern countries. More recently, there was another important immigration trend, where people from other Latin American countries -mainly southern South America as well as some from Africa and Asia. They all arrived searching for better working opportunities - adding new challenges and richness into our melting pot (“crisol de razas”).




    Surely, a deep and thorough sociological description is beyond my limits, but what I do know is that during these two centuries we have had many struggles and we still have a long way to go until we reach our full potential. We’ve been exercising our democratic government without interruption since 1983, and since then we’ve been divided in reviewing our past (often times in a biased way) and struggling with serious economic and corruption difficulties that hinder our present and future.




    Argentineans are very passionate (you can check this undoubtedly at soccer world cups!) and warm people, and we love gathering with family and friends. We even have a national day to celebrate friendship! Moreover, one of our traditional drinks, the mate, is best enjoyed if it’s shared in a circle of friends, whether they are lifelong acquaintances or strangers that just met.




    There are two big different realities in Argentina: that of the big cities -mainly, Buenos Aires-, and that of the “interior”, the rest of the country, especially those smaller towns and villages scattered among endless fields of diverse crops and cattle. I have lived in both.




    The first ones have every challenge a big city faces: individualism, a fast-paced way of living, bewilderment, excess of artificial things and lack of natural ones, tougher hardships in building strong families, plenty of opportunities to grow professionally, abundant recreational offers… you name it. The running that the big city’s rhythm impose to most people, the spread of relativism, hedonism, the lack of silence to find oneself and develop a rich inner self, and many more difficulties often times lead young (and not so young) people to a meaningless life, to an inner vacuum they try to fill with things that leave them even more empty inside. Those people need someone to remind them there’s a light of hope, that the happiness they pursue will be a consequence they’ll get as a certain “side effect” when they begin to transcend themselves to reach others, to bring their gifts to something or somebody beyond themselves. And they need to know it’s a possible task, even though circumstances may seem absolutely adverse, as it happens frequently in Argentina. There are many people that taught us it’s possible with their own life. Viktor Frankl was one of them and his testimony is still valid nowadays.




    Smaller towns have a challenge of their own: to be faithful to their unique cultural identity, despite mass media temptations that often times present foreign values as most desirables. Another challenge is to strengthen their communities, even though many times young people need to move to bigger cities because of better educational opportunities or lack of resources to pursue their dreams. Life in the interior moves at a slower pace; in most of it we even respect the siesta –the early afternoon nap- and have more opportunities to stay in touch with nature, family and friends, which help the well-predisposed person to be more in touch with the inner self. Unfortunately, some people are lacking a guide to help them discover the gifts they have, some have changed their dreams for what is possible here and now, and sometimes, their gossip brings to life the saying “small town, big hell” (“pueblo chico, infierno grande”).




    Still, the interior is the guardian of traditional values, of hard-working people, able to make huge sacrifices for those they love, willing to lend a hand whenever they can. Also, in the interior religious beliefs are very alive, whether they are ancient traditions as the veneration of the Pachamama (Mother Earth) or popular manifestations of religiosity, such as pilgrimages and processions. The major religions are Christian (mainly Roman Catholic and Evangelical), but there are also Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as other cults and even agnostics, though the latter are more apparent in the bigger cities. And here’s another important contribution of Dr. Frankl, one that makes Logotherapy unique among the “Psyche” world: the recognition that every human being has a spiritual dimension, regardless of a particular religion, where the values are always alive and ready to be lived, beginning with the one that “makes the world go round” and makes each one of us feel truly alive: love in its true and deepest meaning.




    Dr. Frankl visited Argentina for the first time in 1954, and it seems he was kindly impressed by Argentineans. He loved tango, which is a very typical music style mainly from Buenos Aires, to be danced and sang with intensity and passion only. The interior has another huge group of traditional music: folklore. Among chamamés, zambas, chacareras, cuecas and many more, these songs reflect and inspire dreams, sadness, hopes and love stories of countrymen and women. Many Argentineans have worked hard and still do in agriculture and cattle raising, making the most of the generous wealth of our soil. Others have reached top-of-the-world levels in sciences, arts and sports, making us all proud. Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, César Milstein, Bernardo Houssay, Luis Federico Leloir, René Favaloro, Carlos Saavedra Lamas, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Evita and Juan Domingo Perón, Julio Bocca, Maximiliano Guerra, Carlos Gardel, Bruno Gelber, Lalo Schiffrin, Daniel Barenboim, Juan Manuel Fangio, Diego Maradona, César Pelli, are only few among many Argentineans that shine for their achievements.




    And there are plenty of those unknown-everyday heroes that make many sacrifices to bring their families what they need, that wake up at dawn to travel miles to reach school, both teachers and students alike, that prefer to lose some unethical wealth rather than their values and good deeds. Unfortunately, there are also some that balance their laziness with a questionable wit (“viveza criolla”) to achieve their selfish goals. Sadly, this is potentiated by the decline of the excellent educational levels we used to have some years ago, which is helped by the mediocrity that has flooded free television and mass media. But, as Dr. Frankl used to say, “if you see somebody as he is, you make him worse, but if you see him as he can be, you make him better”. I strongly believe that my fellow Argentineans have extraordinary richness within that needs to be strengthened, educated and focused. We just need this reminder to raise our eyes and meet the greatness we’re called to reach.




    I believe that Alex Vesely’s diffusion of his grandfather’s teachings – beginning with the movie “Viktor & I” can help all Argentineans to realize they are called to this greatness and give us new inspiration to start marrying our freedom with responsibility, hopefully in the near future. . If we succeed, I hope we all will be able to sing with new meaning those touching words from our National Anthem: “Y los libres del mundo responden: al gran pueblo argentino, ¡salud!”, that is: “And the free ones of the world reply: to the great Argentine people, hail!"



  • A View From South Africa

          Solomon Oupa Makola, PhD

        Licensed Psychologist, Welkom Campus

        Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT)


    South Africa is distinct for diverse cultures and languages. South Africa has the highest number of people of European origin, in Africa; and 79.5% of the South African population is of black African ancestry. For a very long time, the white minority was in control of the vastly larger black majority; they introduced a policy of segregation known as apartheid. After years of internal protests, activism and uprising by black South Africans and their allies, segregation policies were abolished and political movements were unbanned. Nelson Mandela was released from prison after serving 27 years incarceration on a sabotage sentence. Peaceful negotiations were held; subsequently the first democratic elections took place in 1994, which the ANC won by an overwhelming majority; it has been in power ever since. The country then rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations.


    Despite the 17 years of democracy, the continued consequences of segregation are still clearly visible; consequently, it will take years for the country to reverse the damage done by apartheid. Besides the latter; poverty, crime, aids, and unemployment are some as the major challenges facing the country. Rape is a common problem in South Africa, in a 2009 survey one in four South African men admitted to raping someone. About a quarter of the population is unemployed.


    Irrespective of challenges, to date South Africa has 10 Nobel Prize winners; which include Nelson Mandela. South Africa is a well-liked tourist destination; Dr. Frankl visited the country several times and he was awarded honorary doctoral degrees by a number of South African universities. Dr. Frankl visited this country when people where still divided and, irrespective of that, he preached a message of hope and restoration. The message, preached by Dr. Frankl to South African then, is still relevant today. His message teaches us that we do not suffer in vain and that everything happens for a reason; our responsibility is to find the meaning of the suffering.


    The movie, Viktor and I, is a true testimony about what Dr. Frankl calls self –transcendence; that in life we don’t exist solely for ourselves but for others. Dr. Frankl lived his life for others; thus, in this movie South Africans and other people throughout the world will be able to learn, from the primary and secondary sources, how they can overcome challenges and lead meaningful lives. The movie is a fantastic educational tool for both logotherapists and people who are searching for meaning in their lives.


    Solomon Oupa Makola, PhD Licensed Psychologist and Campus Manager: Central University of Technology, Free State (Welkom Campus).



  • The Journey Continues....



    Yesterday was a big day for "Viktor & I" and Noetic Films. We were honored and grateful to have been awarded the very special Diamond Award from the California Film Awards in San Diego, California. Regrettably,  I could not join the award ceremony, which Mary tells me was quite an excitement. Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to all who contributed to the success of  "Viktor & I" and to all friends of the project who are reading these lines. This is a day of celebration!  From a small Internet cafe in Buenos Aires, I raise my glass to you!


    My visit to South America continues to be an amazing experience. It started off with presenting clips from "Viktor and I“ at a Logotherapy Conference in Montevideo, Uruguay, and a few days later at a Conference in Curitiba, Brazil. I am happy to say the message was very well received. I feel grateful for the opportunity to visit South America, learn about the places,  make friends and share new information about my grandfather´s life. As a filmmaker I am also enjoying the visual beauty of the landscapes in Uruguay and the North of Argentina where I cannot resist taking hundreds of pictures. My next presentation of "Viktor and I " will be in Lima, Peru. Following the Peruvian Logotherapy Conference, I have decided to take a couple of days off to visit Machu Pichu, the sacred Inca city in the Peruvian Mountains. I can´t deny that this is one of the most exciting trips I can imagine but the great blessing is meeting and becoming friends with many new people in this wonderful part of the world.


    I am always surprised that Viktor Frankl and his writings are known in places so distant in time and place to their origin. The only explanation I have is that Viktor tapped into the depths of the human experience and retrieved some fundamental truths which connect us all. As we continue to progress as a human race, terms like "Noetic" which he used to describe the dimension that separates we humans from animals, has become a popular term. (.it is the name my partner Mary Cimiluca and I gave to our California film company).


    The search for meaning plays a central role as a motivator and source of healing in our lives. This has become an undisputed fact among psychotherapists and is now making its way into mainstream medicine. The ideas my grandfather seeded have become part of our global consciousness, and even if logotherapy is not a mainstream psychology, other schools of therapy have adopted many of its principles. What could be better?


    I am glad to be able to spend a couple more weeks  in South America and experience its' rich heritage and the wisdom of ancient civilizations -and of course- to take more pictures!


    "Saludos cordiales"!
    Alex




  • From the Director: Preparing for Latin American Trip....


    I am preparing to visit Uruguay and Brazil next month  to attend Logotherapy Conferences in both countries and I am very much looking forward to the trip.  From the 1950's, my Grandfather's work was published in many countries but perhaps the biggest impact was in North America and Latin America.


    For his first trip to lecture about Logotherapy outside of Europe, he traveled to Argentina in 1954.  More than 50 years later, Logotherapy is being applied by the third generation of psychotherapists and the numbers continue to grow.  50 years ago, North America and Latin America were markedly different.  In  most North American countries, one could see economic stability, wealth and freedom while in Latin America there were apparent instabilities and economic hardship.  At first glance,  there were not many commonalities yet both extremes seemed to have one effect living in both environments:-the conditions in both seemed to provoke the existential question - why?


    Questions of why understandably arise when one struggles to make a living or just to survive but life in an affluent society, where most needs are met, surprisingly can have the same effect.  As Viktor often said, "once we have all we need to live by, we still haven't addressed the question of what we are living for".  If we do not set out to answer this question for our own lives, this lack of meaning may lead to a constant and serious state of suffering--suffering from an "existential frustration".  To fill the "existential vacuum" with meaning is a continuing challenge to people living all over the world, in different environments and societies, then and now.


    Viktor and Elly visited both "Americas" many times and made many good friends.  When the film is released next Spring, you will see many of those interviewed  and for all the others, thank you.  I will keep you all posted during the trip.            -----Alexander Vesely


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