Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dr. Alex Pattakos & I: Bridging the Gap Between Trauma and Meaning

So today I spoke with the one and only Dr. Alex Pattakos (that's Dr. Meaning, to you!) and he had some very interesting things to say about how the search for meaning applies to trauma healing.

A quick overview:

Logotherapy - This is the psychiatric core of Pattakos' theories. 'Logo' = Greek for meaning, soul, spirit.

Logotherapy is the spiritualization of psychotherapy.

Inherent in each of us is the desire to find, feel and live a meaningful life; the pursuit and achievement of this enables us to transcend trauma.

Without meaning we feel hollow. Finding meaning elevates the human spirit.

Core principles of Pattakos' book, Prisoners of our Thoughts:

  • We are free to choose our attitude.
  • We can realize our will to meaning by making a conscious commitment to meaningful values and goals.
  • We can find meaning in all of life's moments
  • We can learn to see how we work against ourselves
  • We can look at ourselves from a distance and gain insight and perspective
  • We can shift our focus of attention when coping with difficult situations
  • We can reach out beyond ourselves and make a difference in the world

Existential digging in relation to trauma -- 4 questions to ponder after an event:

  1. How did I respond?
  2. How did I feel in the situation?
  3. What did I learn cognitively?
  4. How do I grow and develop because of what I learned?

Dr. Pattakos had a lot of interesting things to say, and great examples of how his ideas have been applied to large scale trauma response. To hear our entire conversation, follow this link:


(Photo: topgold)