Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, brain surgeon and psychiatrist, whose specialty was helping people with depression and suicide. During World War Two, Frankl was sent to the Nazi concentration camps because he was Jewish. He survived three different camps (including Auschwitz) for three years before being liberated. And after the war, he wrote a book called Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he described his horrific experiences and how he managed to live while others had died.
Frankl was a careful observer of other prisoners. He had seen so many die, including his own parents, that he became able to predict when this would happen. The clue, he discovered, was when people’s suffering resulted in their life having no positive meaning any more. When people had no purpose and gave up on life – he could tell this by their conversations – that was when they were on their way to dying.
Viktor also noticed what helped people to live. It was those prisoners who, despite their suffering and torture, still found positive meaning in life – for example, by helping others or having family to look forward to. So to help himself, Frankl gave talks to other prisoners on how to survive in the camps. He also made up a meaning for himself that the reason he was in these camps, witnessing all this horror, was that one day he could write about it, so it would never happen again.
After the war, Viktor Frankl even created a new form of therapy called “Logo Therapy,” based on the concept that man defines his own meaning and purpose in life. And his work and writing – about the importance of finding a positive meaning in everything, and thereby have a reason for living – has helped millions of people.
“…We create meanings from our unconscious interpretations of early events, and then we forge our present experiences from the meanings we’ve created. Unwittingly, we write the story of our future from narratives based on the past.” From page 349 of Dr Gabor Mate’s book, In the Real of Hungry Ghosts – close encounters with addiction
“Your worst enemy cannot hurt you as much as your own thoughts, when you haven’t mastered them”, said the Buddha. “But once mastered, no one can help you as much – not even your father and your mother”
It is the meaning we give to events that determines our reaction to them… and the power they have over us, or we have over them.
"Events do not have meanings. Events are events, and meanings are thoughts. Nothing has any meaning save the meaning you give it. And the meaning you give to things does not derive from any event, circumstance, condition, or situation exterior to yourself. The Giving of Meaning is entirely an internal process. Entirely" Neale Donald Walsch.
Not only to do we give meaning to events, we give meaning to words. Yes we definitely have dictionaries and experts to draw upon as a resource but ultimately we are the ones that give meaning to words too. Why is this important?
I have devoted two entire chapters in the book, Habits, Addictions and the Law of Attraction just on exploring the meaning of the word “Addiction”. I could have just went to dictionary.com and gave a definition; but then again, maybe I should have went to the Oxford Dictionary. Which one would have been "right"?
Even the top experts in the field fundamentally disagree on the meaning of this single word on so many levels.
That’s why ultimately, after exploring what all the experts say I conclude by suggesting that once again there is no “right” definition – and that YOU get to create the meaning of addiction!
Heck, no matter what definition you end up using, people will disagree with you anyways so you might as well just go with whichever one feels right to you. That may sound strange, since we normally look to “the experts” for what’s “right.” However, you are the one who must eventually make choices and take action on your behaviors. From my perspective, the real goal is not to come up with the “perfect definition” for addiction – but to find one that supports YOU in dealing with it.
When you get that you add the meaning to life, there that is no meaning inherent in anything, that the significance you experience is a function of human interpretation, when you get this you are free, and therefore free to create. The key, of course, is willing to be responsible for the mess you have created so far! – Landmark Education (on Facebook)