A Tribute to Dr. Joseph Fabry (1999)

A Disciple and Friend of Dr. Viktor Frankl




Joe Fabry was a storyteller at heart. In his youthful years, he gave up a career in law in order to do His sharp mind and his ability to write well remained with him until Not too long ago, someone in the logotherapy group said to me:

"Viktor Frankl was a prophet, but Joe Fabry was only a scribe." But Joe was much more than a scribe. He was a visionary storyteller with a prophetic voice; he was a dreamer and a builder, which would qualify him as a "minor" prophet.

My association with Joe over the past few years has been most enjoyable and memorable. While on my sabbatical leave at the University of British Columbia in 1994-95, I articulated for the first time my integrative model of meaning-centered counseling. Logotherapy is at the center of this model, but it also incorporates cognitive-behavioral principles. Therefore, it may be called spiritual-existential-cognitive-behavioral therapy.

I presented my paper at a colloquium of the Counseling Psychology Department of UBC in March 1995. My presentation was well received by both professors and graduate students. But I was still not too sure whether I was on the right track with respect to logotherapy. So I decided to send a copy to Joe Fabry for his comments. I had read most of his writings, and thought that, next to Frankl, he was probably most qualified to evaluate my extension of logotherapy.

I was delighted by his speedy and extremely positive response. He said, "You have developed what I had hoped for a long time, the extension of Dr. Frankl’s ideas into a wider practical methods of application, combining them with other methods into a comprehensive model." He wanted to publish my long paper in instalments. A few weeks later, I received a letter from Dr. Hutzell stating that "Joe Fabry has a copy of your paper and he speaks extremely highly of it." Dr. Hutzell also asked me to submit the paper to The International Forum for Logotherapy in instalments.

After this initial exchange of correspondence, each year Joe sent me the Fabry Gazette with a personal letter. "How are you getting along with the articles for the Forum?" he would ask. And he would gently remind me of my promise to send him articles on meaning-centered counseling. His letters always made me feel guilty for my tardiness. At long last, I sent him the first instalment.3 In a letter dated February 11, 1997, he wrote:

I was delighted to get your article and I am sending it on to Dr. Hutzell for processing into the Spring Forum. I welcome your developing logotherapy into "neologotherapy." I am not sure how Frankl will feel about it, but I think you have kept his basic ideas and expanded them.

The publication of this first installment resulted in numerous positive responses from all over the world, including those who were involved with logotherapy from the very beginning. Joe was delighted that his confidence in my neologotherapy was validated. He continued to press me for additional installments, but I did not send him another article until a year later.

I deeply regret that Joe did not live to see the remaining installments. I have been busy building up a new graduate program in counseling and I blame myself for allowing many other projects to delay my neologotherapy project. However, I will honor my commitment to Joe to complete this series of articles without further delay.

Joe believed that Viktor Frankl’s story needs to be retold to new generations in a new language without changing the basic concepts. Joe’s willingness to embrace and promote my extension of Dr. Frankl’s logotherapy was a breath of fresh air within the logotherapy circle.

During my last visit with Joe and Judith in August 1998, we took a long walk and then returned to his house for more talk on logotherapy. He was delighted with the publication of The Human Quest for Meaning, to which he had contributed a chapter. He suggested that Dr. Robert Leslie write a book review for the Forum. Throughout our conversation, he only reminisced briefly about the heady days of launching logotherapy in the US; his focus was on the future. He was especially excited about my proposal to organize an international conference on Searching for Meaning in the New Millennium in Vancouver, July 13-16, 2000. He was most pleased to learn that this conference was inspired by his earlier idea of organizing a Festival of Meaning. He promised that he would come to the Vancouver conference if his health allowed. After my visit, he even took the trouble to write to Dr. Robert Barnes urging him to co-operate with me:

An international Congress in Vancouver would attract much attention, and he has connections beyond our own, in fact, beyond logotherapy, to related meaning-oriented movements. . . . I share Dr. Wong’s concern about the "fragmentation" in the logotherapy movement, and don’t want to contribute to it. But Dr. Wong is a co-fighter, friend, and supporter, and sees the Vancouver Congress as a boost to the movement.

He was pleased with the prospect of introducing Dr. Frankl’s ideas to a new generation at the Vancouver conference. He also expressed the opinion that the International Congress on Logotherapy be held in different parts of the world. His ecumenical, progressive spirit stands in stark contrast to the fundamentalist "bunker" mentality of many logotherapists I have met.

Those who cling to the past and resist change will be relegated to the dustbin of history. But those who dare to pursue a new vision will make history. Indeed Joe has made history in establishing the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy and The International Forum for Logotherapy. Even in his advanced age, he remained a courageous, prophetic visionary and storyteller, exploring new ways of expanding Dr. Frankl’s ideas.

From all my interactions with him, I have the distinct impression that he would want to see logotherapy move forward rather than backward; and that he would want to recruit more visionary storytellers like himself to advance logotherapy into the new millennium. I sincerely hope that Joe’s generous, visionary spirit will continue to live in those entrusted with the responsibility of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy.

For References go to: http://www.meaning.ca/meaning_therapy/joseph_fabry.html 

P. T. Wong and Dr. Joseph Fabry

JOSEPH FABRY: THE PURSUIT OF MEANING: ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I SHOULD LIKE to thank Dr. Viktor Frankl Who read each chap-ter as it came off the typewriter and again in its final form and Who, veteran rock climber that he is, guided me over many slippery places and firmly held the rope that prevented me from sliding into the existential abyss. I am also grateful to my wife, Judy Lieban Fabry, for Correcting and typing the manuscript, and to my colleague Lucy Lawrence and to my lifelong friend and collaborator Max Knight for many editorial challenges and suggestions. Special thanks to Mrs. Eleonore Frankl for typing, from her husband's Dictaphone, the voluminous Correspondence in which he kept our dialogue open over a distance of 6,000 miles.

PREFACE: In this book, Dr. Fabry has set himself a threefold goal: to popularize logotherapy -without vulgarizing it; to simplify its theories -without oversimplifying them; and to "Americanize" logotherapy -by focusing on those of its aspects that speak to readers brought up in the cultural climate of present- day America. To this end, Dr. Fabry had to skip what is too deeply rooted in the specifically European tradition of psychiatry and philosophy.

I must confess that this approach implies some sacrifice on my part. It was no less a great mind than Albert Einstein who once said that for the scientist there is one choice only: either to write in a profound and unintelligible way or else to write in an intelligible but superficial manner. While I would not want to claim that my academic writing should be classified as unintelligible, yet in this age of division of labor I feel that 1 should leave it to Dr. Fabry to write on logotherapy in a manner directed toward the layman, even at the risk of sacrificing some scientific precision. Nevertheless, Dr. Fabry's fresh and anecdotal style suggests a dilemma which we both tried our best to avoid. The casual reader still may sometimes find it difficult to discern exactly who says what: is Fabry quoting Frankl, or is he interpreting Frankl, or is he express- mg his. own thoughts? Although I have given Dr. Fabry all the assistance he asked for in preparing the manuscript, he was left. completely free in interpreting logotherapy, in extrapolating its basic assumptions, and -to use the words of the book's subtitle- in "applying it to life." Logotherapy is not a closed system; any attempt to advance and develop it is invited and welcomed.

Thanks to both the author and the publisher, a comprehensive bibliography of logotherapy has been included, listing the American literature and also some of my German works from which Dr. Fabry drew information. Thus, one may expect that the book will be of service to the specialists as well as to the general public. To the specialists the primary sources on logotherapy, my own writings, are available. To take up their study will be mandatory at least for those who wish to polemicize against my teachings.

For the general public, Dr. Fabry's book provides excellent material that illustrates the individual tenets of logo- therapy, and does it in a language that avoids abstract and technical terms. This is in accord with the principles of logotherapy. As my oldest co-fighter, Paul Polak, once put it, "Logotherapy translates the self-understanding of the man in the street into scientific language." If this be true, I would say why not help the man in the street to cope better with every- day life by retranslating logotherapy into his own language? Whatever I am teaching -I have learned it from my patients in the first place. Therefore it is only fitting to repay them - by preventing others from ever becoming patients at all.

I am convinced that Dr. Fabry's book performs a needed service by spreading the message of logotherapy so that more people may profit from it. If it is true, as some truly great men have stated, that logotherapy "speaks to the needs of the hour," then Dr. Fabry should surely be rewarded by the impact and influence his book will have on the thinking and the lives of its readers. Indeed I wish the book success for both its author and its readers. Viktor E. Frankl VIENNA, JUNE 1967

(Joseph Fabry): From The Pursuit of Meaning: by Joseph B. Fabry, Beacon, Boston,1970. Logotherapy assumes that man, in addition to his physical and psychological dimensions, possesses a specifically human dimension, and that all three must be considered if he is to be fully understood. It assumes that this human dimension enables man to reach out beyond himself and make his aspirations and ideals part of his reality; that his life has meaning under all, even the most miserable circumstances; and that he had a deeply rooted conscience that can help him find the specific meaning of this life. Logotherapy further assumes that man primarily seeks not pleasure but life task, and that the deepest pleasure comes from accomplishing these tasks. It asserts that each person is unique in the sense that he has to lead his own life, that he is irreplaceable, and that no moment of his life is repeatable. Logotherapy further asserts that man is fee, within obvious limitations, to make choices regarding his activities, experiences, and attitudes, and that freedom allows him to change himself - to decide not only what kind of a person he is but also what kind of a person he is going to become. Logotherapy insists that man must not use his freedom arbitrarily, but tempered with responsibility; that he must assume the awful and magnificent responsibility of his own choices. Finally, logotherapy contends that man's discovery of the meanings of his life is made easier by certain values and traditions passed on from generation to generation; but it asserts that the final decision is always with the individual, and that in the present era of changing values and crumbling traditions, each person is forced more than ever to rely on his personal conscience and his responsibility to listen to and to follow its voice. (p 18)

To Frankl, the sum is not a biologically determined being as he was with Darwin, nor a sociologically determined being as he was to Marx; nor a psychologically determined being as he was to Freud. To Frankl, man is a being who, while determined in all these ways, retains an important area of freedom where his not determined at all, but free to take a stand. (p 22)

Frankl warns that "man's freedom will degenerate into arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness." As long as man regards freedom as something merely negative, as a freedom from restrictions, as a license to do as he pleases, there is danger that it will lead not to fulfillment, but to boredom and frustration. Proper use of freedom, Frankl says, means the we regard ourselves free to assume our own responsibleness; only then is freedom a positive value. The positive value of freedom is contained in a freedom to a cause or a person, in response to a demand coming from the outside, but freely accepted. If freedom is not used in terms of responsibleness, it will not lead to meaning but, on the contrary, will add to the existential vacuum. (p 124)