Logotherapy helps people with philosophical problems that impact their life. For example: How do people deal philosophically with the problem of loss?
One may deal with their pain by embracing a new reality with an attitude of ‘It was meant to be.’
If you are one of those people, you might not agree with Frankl’s formulation of the tension that is felt between what ‘is’ and what ‘ought not to be.’
In suffering from something we move inwardly away from it, we establish a distance between our personality and this something. As long as we are still suffering from a condition that ought not to be, we remain in a state of tension between what actually is on one hand and what ought to be on the other hand…Suffering therefore establishes a fruitful, one might say a revolutionary, tension in that it makes for emotional awareness of what ought not to be. To the degree that a person identifies himself with things as they are, he eliminates his distance from them and forfeits the fruitful tension between what is and what ought to be ~ Frankl1986:107-108, The Doctor and the Soul
Logotherapy is not a ‘positive psychology.’ Frankl insists that suffering is an intrinsic part of life. Since life is unconditionally meaningful under all circumstances, meaning can be found in situations of pain and suffering and not just within inherently joyful situations.
I think that most people would agree that their struggles, losses and regrets in life have taught them something. They have grown in the process. They have developed emotionally and spiritually through these experiences, perhaps particularly due to these trying events. All the same, they wish they had not had to pay such a high price to learn. They would have gladly foregone the gain brought about by their suffering.
The Talmud (Berachot 5b) relates that when rabbi Yochanan was ill, rabbi Hanina came to visit him. Rabbi Hanina asked him, ‘Are your afflictions dear to you?’ to which rabbi Yochanan replied, ‘Neither the afflictions nor their reward.’ Only after he said this, did Rabbi Hanina proceed to heal rabbi Yochanan.
The Talmud is reflecting a truth about human experience. Tension between what ‘is’ and what ‘ought not to be’ demands a response -- to do what it takes to mitigate or end suffering.
When nothing can be done to fix it, this creates a different kind of tension between what ‘is’ and what ‘ought not to be.’ Actually, it ought not to have been. The tension is never ending. The loss will never stop being a loss. The injustice will forever remain an injustice. To forfeit that tension is as if to say nothing was lost and no wrongdoing was done.
Yet, despite the grief, the strengths gained in the process remain. The awareness of the preciousness of whomever or whatever was lost remains. By relating to the person with empathy and at the same time helping him or her to squeeze meaning out of the situation, you help them to live with the paradox.