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The Meaning of Attending the 3rd International Viktor Frankl Congress

By Robert H. Frantz, MS, BSEE

I was recently fortunate to have the opportunity and resources to travel to Vienna, Austria, to attend the bi-annual Frankl Congress.   My interest in Frankl’s theories and methods for helping solve seemingly intractable conflict started a few years ago while completing my Master of Science degree in the psychology, sociology and neurology of problem solving and creativity at Buffalo State (SUNY).   Now, as a United Nations-certified mediator and a student in the Doctor of Mediation program at Graduate Theological Foundation, components of Logotherapy are becoming more and more crucial to my approach to personal ministry and secular mediation.  Dr. Graber recently asked me why I went to the Logotherapy Congress, and what did I get out of it?   My answer is unexpectedly deep meaning, both personally and professionally.
The presentations by noted Frankl followers from around the world could be categorized into two genres.   The first genre was a technical or theoretical track.   These were not dry and scientific, though, as all Frankl followers know that personal experience and humor are also keys to Logotherapy, but they did focus on practice.   As a holder of two science degrees, I was surprised not only to laugh during some of the “technical” presentations, but also to have a few moments of tears.

The second genre was a group of presenters who provided personal stories of how they had used Franklian techniques in their own lives to overcome horrific situations and conditions, such as losing both parents at a young age and being forced into a multi-national European prostitution ring.   As bad as Frankl’s experiences were, all suffering is local and personal.  These presenters provided first-hand witness to the effectiveness of self-administered and, in some cases, self-taught Franklian techniques.

One can see that these two genres really correspond to our cognitive (technical, practical) and affective (empathetic, sympathetic) functions.  But, there was a third dimension of the meaning I unexpectedly found while in Vienna.  I went with the purpose of learning more about techniques, and to hear some case studies of how it had succeeded and/or failed.

But, of course there should be a third dimension to be truly Franklian.   Beyond the technical-theoretical and the case-based experiences, there was a noological experience of standing where Frankl stood, of breathing the same air that may have flowed into his lungs and out of his mouth as theories, ideas, arguments, consultations and teachings.   These breaths would inspire thousands of people to resonate and use his ideas.    Frankl remains the most-often cited source according to the American Psychological Association, and, up until 2006, his seminal book remained the second best seller worldwide according to Amazon.

Having just completed GTF’s tutorial on Celtic Christianity under Dr. Burkart and fallen in love with that subject, I suddenly and coincidentally found myself in the very city where the ancient Celts of the Bronze Age arrived from the Himalayas into Europe on their way to Spain, France, and eventually, Ireland and Scotland, as we know them today.   The Celts were a very spiritually gifted group of early people, who recognized even without the benefit of Frankl, Freud or Adler, that conflict and peace follow cycles.   Finding myself standing, sleeping, and eating in the birthplace of so many great musical composers as well as the big three pioneers of modern psychology, made the serendipity nearly overwhelming.

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Robert on a peaceful day cruise from Vienna, up the Danube River, to the captivating village of Dürnstein, Austria.

I would definitely recommend a visit to Vienna any time you can get there, and especially during the next Frankl Congress.   The practitioners are wonderful to meet and share tips about integrating Franklian techniques into your own practice, and the Viennese are absolutely wonderful hosts.   If you are not familiar with Franklian Logotherapy, there are many opportunities to explore it through GTF tutorials so that you can get the absolute most out of your Vienna visit.

What will the meaning of your visit be?  Well, there’s only one way to find out — go.

BIO: Robert Frantz is a U.S. registered patent agent, and a volunteer mediator for conflicts in families, churches, and workplaces.   Robert’s mediation and conflict prevention approach blends elements of Logotherapy to see beyond a current conflict towards a desired legacy, with elements of William Ury’s Third Sider, Ken Sande’s Peacemaker, and Osborn-Parnes creative problem solving processes.  Robert is an elder in the Disciples of Christ denomination, living in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with his wife of 30 years and his two adult sons.  

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