500 Hours

Although I’m not a big fan of Friedrich Nietzsche, I think he was right when he said “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”

Victor Frankl once wrote:

“An old doctor consulted me in Vienna because he could not get rid of a severe depression caused by the death of his wife. I asked him, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?” Whereupon he said, “For her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!”

I then added, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now you have to pay it by surviving and mourning her”. The old man suddenly saw his plight in a new light, and revaluated his suffering in the meaningful terms of a sacrifice for the sake of his wife.”

Even if this story is well known to you, what is unknown is a comment, which was given by an American psychoanalyst some months ago. After hearing this account, he stood up and said, “I understand what you mean Dr. Frankl; however, if we start from the fact that obviously your patient had only suffered so deeply from the death of his wife because unconsciously he had hated her all along…”

If you are interested in hearing my reaction, here it is: “It may well be that after having the patient lie down on your couch for five hundred hours, you will have brain washed and indoctrinated him to the point where he confesses, “Yes, Doctor, you are right I have hated my wife all along, I have never loved her at any time…”

But then I told him, “You have succeeded in depriving that old man of the only treasure he still possessed, namely, the ideal marital life that he built up, their tru love… while I succeeded within a minute, in bringing about significant reversal of his attitude, or let me frankly say, in bringing consolation” – Psychotherapy and Existentialism

After reading this story, I was inspired to write the following lines:

One thousand hours,
split in half,
with a couch,
can teach a lie.

One split-second,
without a couch,
just the truth,
can get you by.

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