Prof. Tarhan: "To escape from pain is not to fight it, but to share the pain"


President of Üsküdar University, Psychiatrist Prof. Nevzat Tarhan was the guest of the Book Analysis event organized by the Genç İHH (The Youth Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief). Prof. Tarhan made remarkable statements about the work "Man's Search for Meaning" written by Victor E. Frankl, which has been translated into more than thirty languages and has become a bedside book all over the world. Highlighting that Frankl suggested healing by sharing the pain instead of running away from them, Tarhan underlined that finding a 'meaning' through all difficulties and following them is equivalent to continuing with life.

"Those who seek meaning and have hope manage to survive"

Tarhan, who made remarkable evaluations about the sense of search for meaning in man, shared based on the work "Man's Search for Meaning" written by Victor E. Frankl. In the online program, Tarhan said that "Psychiatrist Victor E. Frankl was born in Vienna. In 1943, , they were taken to the camp when Jewish minorities were taken to concentration camps by Hitler. Due to his doctrine of Nazism, Hitler considers his racial ego superior, and his practices are one of the best-known examples of ethnic narcissism. Pruncle, a psychiatrist, is working on a treatment called Logo Therapy in the concentration camps, like speech therapy. He observes who survives in the camps and who does not. As a result of those observations, he lays the foundations of the existential psychology related to the search for meaning. He reveals the purpose of existence and is considered one of the pioneers of humanistic psychology. In response to Hitler and his malevolence, he emphasizes the point of view that 'Man is not evil, he is inherently good, and evil is accidental.' However, human beings are born with a natural tendency to be good and evil. Whatever part of it grows inside of you, it develops. Giving meaning to something is one of the most important things for human survival. Those who seek meaning, those who have hope, those who say they will be saved, those who seek a meaning that does not lose hope, survive the tortures of Hitler without dying. For this reason, the following words of the author are very important: ‘There is nothing more effective in the world than the knowledge that life has meaning in order to survive even in the worst conditions.’. We can express this as the main essence of the book, its idea.".

"To escape from pain is not to fight it but to share the pain"

Tarhan said that the author draws attention to healing by sharing the pain instead of running away from them and underlined that finding a 'meaning' through all difficulties and following it is equivalent to continuing with life. Tarhan said that "Another important point that the book draws attention to is that 'to escape from pain is not to fight it but to share the pain.'. The author suggests sharing the pain, especially with what he experienced in Nazi society. He expresses this with these words: ‘To live is to suffer, to live life is to find more meaning than this suffering. If you find meaning in the pain, you can keep suffering and you can tolerate the pain.’. Frankl dwells on the concepts of meaning and purpose for human survival. The souls of people who experience these difficulties are dispersed in the void. The pursuit of meaning in the midst of war was a rope to hold for him, a hope. Logotherapy and observation of war and turning it into an ideal helped him survive. He also published his experiences there in a book. When the author touches on the importance of goal setting, he only emphasizes worldly purposes and limits his goals to these. In other words, he cannot explain much about death and life after death. There was not much information in the Torah about death and the afterlife, he does not care much about it. That's why he is trying to add meaning from a worldly perspective.".

"Depression has become a social virus and changed people's philosophy of life"

Stating that the recent Civilization Crisis Syndrome can be solved with the meaning-searching method recommended by Frankl, Tarhan underlined that the solution proposals of modernism are not good for people. Tarhan stated that "Current psychiatry, popular culture and modernism do exactly the opposite of what Viktor Frankl says. That is, one prefers to avoid pain rather than face and manage it. The California Syndrome is the civilizational crisis syndrome of modernism. This syndrome has 4 features and philosophy of life. The first one is Hedonism, and it says that the purpose of life is the pursuit of pleasure. However, Viktor Frankl said that the purpose of life is ‘to have a purpose in life, that is, to be part of a meaning, human tears are sacred.’. ‘But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer,’ he says. He says I prefer to manage pain instead of fighting it, don't see pain as an enemy and see it as an opportunity to improve yourself by living it. This is actually the teaching of some ancient culture and Anatolian wisdom at the same time. Frankl was trying to treat people who were overwhelmed by pain, distress and stress by saying what is the meaning of one’s life, what is the meaning. At that time, he was trying to protect people in poverty. Now there is wealth, there is abundance, and there is richness. There is no pain in people. Now they are investigating why depression has increased so much, wondering if there is a virus. Depression has become a social virus and changed people's philosophy of life. The entertainment industry has now entered the homes of all of us. People have never been so close to technology.".

"Frankl's philosophy is not enough, it is more important to be able to manage pleasures"

Stating that the modern world provides a great comfort zone, Tarhan drew attention to the importance and difficulty of managing pleasures in such a world. Tarhan said that "Right now, humanity is being dragged away. In people who are dragged away, faith does not turn into morality, and questioning about faith begins. The world is so tempting that if everything goes well, one does not think of death, but when there is a disease, a trouble or a calamity, for example, there has been a pandemic, and people think that their physical comfort has deteriorated; they have seen their comfort deteriorated, and they see their weaknesses. Then, they have started to search for meaning. These calamities lead people to search for meaning. Therefore, Viktor Frankl's progress in life by facing pain and giving meaning to pain is not valid for all conditions, however, it has become more important to be able to manage and make sense of pleasures. Positive science says I am not interested in purpose, in meaning, I look at how the universe works, I look at how the cell works, I look at how physics, chemistry works. However, those who deal with the philosophy of value, psychology and psychiatry, and religious scientists have to study meaning and purpose. What distinguishes humans from animals is that everything is genetically encoded in animals; eating, drinking, sheltering, sleeping. In the dream world of a lion or cat, there is meat, bones and food. However, imagination of a human varies from person to person. The human offspring and the animal offspring different. People are born prematurely. Unlike other living things, there is a great will in human beings and there is no such free will in animals.".

"A wise person tries to invest in an unlimited life in a limited life"

If a person finds answers to two questions in their search for meaning, one finds the meaning. The first is that a person knows that the world is mortal, the only living being who knows that they will die is human being. In man there is a perception of the past, future and present, there is a death awareness gene, there is a search for meaning gene. Another is the gene to seek innovation in human. I hope that the spirit of the times will be in the hands of those who combine religion and science more. At the top of our goal, it should be the highest goals, abstract goals. If a person is pursuing concrete material satisfaction in their life, one remains on the animalistic level, like eating and drinking. A smart person is a person who thinks long-term. Therefore, a human will also think about the afterlife in their search of meaning. One will say this after death: 'I have a limited life; how can I earn an eternal and unlimited life in this limited life?' Death is bitterly real, however, there is a desire for immortality in people. Just as the feeling of hunger in our stomach indicates the presence of food, so in our soul there is a desire for immortality and eternity. This shows that there is eternity. That is why one of the Islamic scholars says, ‘If Allah did not want to give it to man, He would not give man the desire.’. In other words, Allah has given us eternal life, and even this shows the existence of eternal life. Thus, an intelligent person tells their brain in their thought laboratory that this world is a world with end, and this is with no exceptions. Then this world is simulation, real life is the best after this world you need to invest in it. A wise person tries to invest in a limitless life in a limitled life.".


Üsküdar News Agency (ÜNA)