The Sunday Neurosis

Often we suffer from, what Viktor Frankl calls, ‘existential vacuum’. In this situation, one is haunted by the experience of inner emptiness. He doesn’t know what he has to do, or what other people wish him to do. Existential vacuum causes boredom. We need free time, but not too much free time. Optimum free time is subjective. Nothing is subjective unless there is an objective. Where there is objective, there is meaning. In this context, Frankl talks about ‘Sunday Neurosis’. On Sundays, for some, there is no rush of the busy week. In these unbusied hours, one often asks – What the meaning of life is? The meaning of life differs from person to person, time to time. The best move in a game of chess depends upon the particular move an opponent thrusts upon you. Chasing an abstract meaning of life is futile. It is for us to decide if our decision is based on moral exhortation or logical reasoning. Frankl writes, “A painter tries to convey to us a picture of the world as he sees it; an ophthalmologist tries to enable us to see the world as it really is. The logotherapist’s role consists of widening and broadening the visual field of the patient so that the whole spectrum of potential meaning becomes conscious and visible to him.” Meaning of life changes as one moves ahead, yet nor ceases. Often, suffering helps in our search for meaning; suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning. This is not to suggest that suffering is necessary to find meaning. There is a saying that the burden of unhappiness is increased by unhappiness about being unhappy. It is also true that the inevitability of suffering can’t be ruled out. Another question Frankl asks – When you have lost everything, does life have any meaning? He asks, “Has all this suffering, this dying around us, a meaning? For, if not, then ultimately there is no meaning to survival; for a life whose meaning depends upon such a happenstance – as whether one escapes or not – ultimately would not be worth living at all.”