Around one month ago early in the morning I started feeling itching in my lungs. At first, I thought it was some type of allergy, being that it was right in the middle of Cherry blossom season. However, within 24 hours my symptoms became worse and it quickly turned into two weeks of a serious case of coronavirus.
As I lay in bed worried about what might happen, I began to become scared for my life and frightened at what would happen to my wife and children if I couldn’t stay out of the hospital - or worse. It was during the worst hours of this disease that I remembered a story about Dr. Viktor Frankl in Auschwitz in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”.
Within days my fever was floating somewhere between 100 and 103°F. As an adult, I don’t remember experiencing fever and pain on such a high level. And then the chills began and my body felt as if I was spiraling out of control.
The worst part was listening to the news and hearing that so many of the people whom I know and love we’re actually sicker than I was and a number of them had to be admitted into the hospital. Like many others, I felt my anxiety increase every time I would cough. With each cough I felt that I was getting one more step closer to hospitalization.
One week into the disease I felt my lungs were getting even worse and perhaps I had developed pneumonia. At that point I experienced something that I never felt in my life. It was a kind of helplessness, not knowing whether I would survive at home or be rushed to the hospital and be put on a ventilator.
One night at three in the morning when I was wide awake coughing, I recalled the story from Viktor Frankl. During the Holocaust Frankl found himself in a concentration camp critically ill with Typhus. According to Frankl, Typhus is accompanied with high fever and a person is in imminent danger of cardiovascular collapse. At that moment Frankl knew that he had to stay awake in order not to die.
In order to stay awake he remembered that one of his main manuscripts that was ready for publication was confiscated and destroyed by the Nazis. That night he gathered together a few scraps of paper and began to rewrite his manuscript, should he live to the day of liberation. Frankl writes that his determination to fulfill a meaning by rewriting his book helped him stay alive.
Viktor Frankl, an eminent psychiatrist whom I have dedicated my life to promote, helped me understand something that I will never forget. During that long and sleepless night in March, I gained strength and hope by imagining myself in the future teaching others the lessons of Viktor Frankl and sharing the idea that the desire to fulfill a meaning is the most powerful force in the human spirit. In fact, it can save your life.
To get through the worst parts of the coronavirus, I pictured myself in the future returning to my students and clients and sharing the message which I am sharing with you today. BH, after receiving medication, my lungs began to improve, my fever reduced and I began to feel hope that I would survive.
None of us are sure why we have gone through this trauma in our community and in our lives. I consider myself lucky to be alive and I’m mourning greatly for all my friends, community members and our precious leaders who have lost their lives. I pray many times a day for those who are still sick and wish them a speedy recovery.
As I look to the future, I realize that so many people will have to struggle with the psychological implications of this virus. As a licensed marriage and family therapist I understand the stress that families and couples will experience during this time and beyond. They may feel tremendous pain, trauma, and indecisiveness. And, at times, they may feel helpless or even become depressed since they can’t find any meaning in their suffering.
I also understand that as the virus continues here and in other parts of the world, couples will need communication and relational skills to create a healthy emotional environment between them and develop the resilience to share their affection and optimism with their children. They will also need to turn to individuals who are trained to coach and help couples overcome emotional and financial difficulties and improve their marriages.
Viktor Frankl’s teachings have never before been as important as now. In order to train individuals, Rabbis/Rebbetzins, Shluchim, Chosson/Kallah teachers etc. and all those who believe they can coach and help couples and families in the community, the Viktor Frankl Marriage and Intimacy program will continue online starting May 10. We will also offer the program at a discount of 50%.
Now is the time to learn how to coach the countless couples who will need your help. Our accredited program will train you to become a certified life coach and learn the following skills and methods:
● Help Couples Deal with Coronavirus Stress
● Emotionally-Focused Couples Coaching
● John Gottman's "7 Principles to Making Marriage Work"
● Logotherapy (Viktor Frankl) for Couples & Intimacy
● Advanced Communication Skills (Imago)
● 5 Love Languages
● Overcome Internet Addiction
● Learning when to refer to therapists and medical professionals
The course will offer live webinar-based instruction with Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, LMFT, for 15 weeks (schedule adjusted for holidays). Texts, Powerpoints, video presentations, live Q & A and role playing sessions will be a part of the training sessions.
Most importantly, I believe that couples will need coaching on how to find more meaning in their marriages and in their lives. Participants will learn how to combine the most powerful skills in marriage coaching and therapy with the teachings of Viktor Frankl.
To watch a free preview video and to register for the May 10 program visit www.TorahPsychology.org or call Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, LMFT at 646-428-4723.