What is the Meaning of the word, “Nooetic”?

The word “Nooetic” means, “The Wisdom of the Inner Self”, or, the wisdom of what the ancient Greeks called “Noos”, meaning “Spirit”. Viktor E Frankl, Psychiatrist, Neurologist and Philosopher, stated that the human-being, is not only made up of a mind and a body, but also of a nooetic dimension. This dimension in the practice of mindfulness, is also called, “The Silent Observer”. Frankl borrowed the term “Noos” from the ancient Greeks to refer to the nooetic dimension of the human being. However, he did not use the term in a religious sense. Rather he used it in order to recognise the search in human beings, for meaning in life, especially when faced with suffering. In this manner, he created an openness to helping all people in their search for meaning in life, in order to ease their suffering. He did this without imposing or undermining spiritual beliefs, welcoming all people no matter their religious, cultural or national background. His approach was also successful with non-religious people.

Although Frankl’s approach was open to all people, he did not believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach to helping people therapeutically. He recognised the uniqueness of every person, and that everyone who looks for help, needs to have their unique individuality taken into account by the Therapist. This respectful attitude by the Therapist helps to make therapy meaningful for the person seeking help.  

Frankl is the founder of Logotherapy, which means, “meaning-centred therapy”. He first developed his approach in the 1930s. However, Frankl later ended up as a prisoner in the concentration camps during World War Two. There, he survived for three years. Although, his mind and body suffered immensely in the death camps, he also chose to put his theories on Logotherapy to the test. In doing so, he discovered that even in such miserable and horrific conditions, it was still possible to find meaning in life. Frankl discovered that even though the nazis could torture his mind and body, there was part of him that they could never hurt, or could never reach. He described that as the nooetic dimension within himself. Despite having such little control over his circumstances, only he got to choose his attitude towards his circumstances. In this choice, he found a degree of freedom to rebuild his life, and therefore meaning in life. His torturers had no power over him in this aspect of his reality. He chose an attitude of survival, so that one day he could reunite with his wife, and also, so that he could help his fellow human beings. In this attitude, he found meaning in life despite unavoidable suffering.

Frankl survived the concentration camps and helped many people both during his time in the camps, and for many decades after his liberation. Frankl’s Logotherapy can be integrated with a broad variety of counselling, psychotherapeutic and social work approaches. Professional experience and research by Charlie Bannon, the Founder and Executive Director of The Nooetic Centre Ltd, shows, that Frankl’s approach is still relevant in helping people who face the challenges and difficulties of today. That is why Frankl’s approach is at the heart of the integrative approach applied during therapeutic services carried out at The Nooetic Centre Ltd.

Sunrise on a frosty winter’s morning in Ireland

“Light conquers the darkness”

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