Logotango: An explanation

Dr Frankl suggested that a "Statue of Responsibility" be placed
on the West Coast to compliment the "Statue of Liberty."
This sketch in part of the the current plan.


The story of Viktor Frankl's life is the story of Logotherapy.  He was the founder of the so-called "Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy," following Sigmund Freud (the will to pleasure) and Alfred Adler (the will to power).  Frankl felt that humanity's will to have meaning was over pleasure and power.  ["Logo" comes from the Greek word "Logos," signifying meaning, reason among other things.]

From Viktor Frankl's lead, I am suggesting the term Logotango:  Tango with personal meaning and purpose.

First, let me tell you a little about Logotherapy.  In a few words, so many believed that Freud was right, that it was our basic needs and our "will for pleasure" that drove everything on the psychological level.  Faith and hope and purpose were all relegated to "defense mechanisms" that may have cute human explanations, but the hand under the puppet truly moving the human spirit was our drive for pleasure, according to Freud.

But Freud did not live in a concentration camp like Frankl, who discovered that it was not the care of physical needs that kept the psyche and body alive.  In the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, people existed on scant physical basics.  Life went on.  Frankl, who was enlisted as a camp doctor, found that once prisoners had no purpose, they were as good as dead.  They would often give away their possession and enjoy their last few cigarettes and then simply die.  A comparatively healthy prisoner would give up and be dead two days later.  Nothing was sustaining them after hope and faith were lost.  A purpose could be to see one's children again or one's spouse again or finish the book one started that no one else could write.  He wanted to see his wife again and he had a book to write that no one else could write.  His book, Man's Search for Meaning, is a moving, heart-wrenching but surprisingly inspirational book.  In the United Stated, the book was considered one of the ten most influential books written when Frankl died in 1997.  This wasn't even the book he had in mind.  Ironically, his statements on purpose and faith still sound superficial to some empirical AMA-influenced psychiatrists.  Frankl wrote, for example:

"If a prisoner felt that he could no longer endure the realities of camp life, he found a way out in his mental life– an invaluable opportunity to dwell in the spiritual domain, the one that the SS were unable to destroy. Spiritual life strengthened the prisoner, helped him adapt, and thereby improved his chances of survival." (Page 123)

Frankl was the founder what is now known as positive psychology.  The current sickness world view has been promoted by the AMA's obsession with the medical model and cataloging disorders and diseases.   This world view is pervasive.  The common person now calls people who are upset them as "sick" and use psychological diagnoses on others without having really any idea what the diagnosis really involves.  Whatever happen to "dumb ass"?  This negative psychological and philosophical world of giving everything a diagnosis even influences tangueros, who for the most part will laughingly agree that tango is an addiction.  An addiction?  Seen in positive terms, tango can be over used, but it is cocaine, alcohol and other substances that cause addiction.  All other uses of the word are only negative analogies.  I am addicted to being with my children.  And then there is water.  Now that is something to which I really have an addiction because I drink water every day.  Tango and water.  Too much is not good.  But they cannot be "addictive" from the perspective of positive psychology.

Frankl's experiences were about what is right about people rather than focusing what is wrong.  Finding meaning, having some faith -- that is what keeps us alive.  Food and water cannot do it alone.  Purpose, faith and hope truly sustain us.  The therapy that helped us get back to our "will for meaning" was what he called Logotherapy.

The world of tangueros will understand how tango, as a positive force in their lives, is much better than the addiction or even nice hobby model.  Logotango describes the positive and powerful influence has in many people's lives.  If you are going to dance tango for more than just a fad season of you life, it will have to "survive" many things.  If it has a purpose, then it will survive.  I will even go so far as to say that you must dance Logotango if you wish to dance through your life.  Otherwise, my guess is that someday you will be "cured" from your tango addiction.  Logotango lives on and continues to bring you and others joy.  But purpose and meaning must continue to be redefined and rediscovered.

The four elements of how people understand the meaning of life are: purpose, values, efficacy, self-worth. Baumeister and Vohs (2002) have synthesised these four factors from their interviews with many people. If you do not build these things into your tango, who will?
I will share my explanations of Logotango using the four above categories:

Purpose:  I am aware of basic needs being met in tango.  I need air/food/water/shelter.  I get all of those at a milonga.  I need human touch.  I get this more than anywhere else in the world as a single man at a milonga.  I need to move.  All human beings would soon die if they were not allowed to move.  A person would soon go mad.  I could run or bike or walk, but dance is the best of all.  Now, my purpose beyond some basic needs as described by Freud:  My purpose in tango is to share the joy of the music with another person.  They way I share this with her and she with me will be a unique experience.  My purpose too is to be a part of the larger community of tango.

Values:  I love the sense of culutre that counters a world without values, kindness, gentleness.  The tango world has only the values I bring to it.  Sure, I am influenced by what others have defined as "Tango Culutre."  But ultimately, I must express my values as a gentleman and live my values of kindness.  What a great community to practice these and receive these!

Efficacy:  After a tanda, there is a sense that "we made it there together."  What a great moment to share, over and over.  I maintain efficacy by taking classes and always learning/practicing efficiency, the twin sister of efficacy.

Self-Esteem:  Skill development only starts after about 700 hours of work on most skills.  In tango there are skills upon skills upon skills.  And they all keep returning to the basics.  I have put in my 700+ hours, and this builds my sense of self-mastery.  In my case, my years of musical study and practice adds another level of joy and mastery, and tango allow me to return to a part of my life that I had somewhat abandoned as a former professional musician.

Logotango is tango with meaning.  The meaning must be yours.  Share it with me!  Perhaps it will bring meaning and purpose to my world.

PS:  Also see the article: The Meaning of Life (in Under 300 Words), which attempts to succinctly describe the meaning of life in just a few hundred words:
  1. Purpose - this could be living happily ever after, going to heaven or even (whisper it) found at work. Whatever it is, meaning in life comes from reaching goals and feeling fulfilled. Even though fulfilment is hard to achieve because the state fades, people need purpose.
  2. Values - people need a moral structure to work out what is right and what is wrong. There are plenty to choose from: some come from religion, others from philosophy and still others from your friends and family.
  3. Efficacy - people want to make a difference and have some control over their environment. Without that, the meaning of life is reduced.
  4. Self-worth - we all want to feel we're good and worthwhile people. We can do this individually or by hitching ourselves to a worthy cause. Either way we need to be able to view ourselves in a positive light.

Photo credit:
Go see more about the plans for Frankl's vision of a "Statue of Responsibility" to balance off the "Staute of Liberty":  http://www.sorfoundation.org/