July 15, 2017

In my last blog post, I discussed Viktor Frankl’s ideas of freedom and responsibility.  Responsibility, freedom, and accountability are linked to how we each respond to family rules.  Often in dysfunctional families there are unspoken rules, often the assumed rules of “Don’t talk,” and “Don’t feel” were ways of control and power.  When people are told to keep quiet and not feel they become numb to their own thoughts and feelings.  When you or I deny the existence of thoughts and feelings, we deny our own humanity and emotional pain often occurs.  This emotional pain and numbness can be debilitating.  People stop interacting with other, create stories to protect themselves, get depressed, anxious, compulsive, or obsessive.  When our humanity is denied we begin to self-efface and deny our own power, aptitude, and confidence.


When people are in a debilitated state, it is difficult to take responsibility.  Yet as Viktor Frankl wrote, a person is still responsible for how she or he thinks about and approaches a problem.  Frankl explained that although he had no control of what the Nazis did to him or his fellow captives, each prisoner ultimately had control over their thoughts and attitudes.  How the prisoners approached their attitudes about themselves gave them a measure of freedom and control.  Frankl realized that those who took responsibility for their personal thoughts and actions were more likely to survive the horrors of the death camp.  This gave him more desire to take his personal responsibility so that he could survive the Nazi atrocities.  Ultimately we are responsible for our personal thoughts, actions, and inactions: each has a consequence.

How do you take responsibility?

How do you avoid responsibility?

Would you like to take a different approach to your accountability and responsibility?

David Johns has a PhD in Counseling Education and Supervision.  He is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) in the state of Colorado.  He works with clients who want to explore how they deal with responsibility, power, and control.  For an appointment call 303-642-6636 or email at


Frankl, V. E. (1984). Man’s search for meaning .  New York: Pocket Books

Hannah, F. J. (2002). Therapy with difficult clients: Using the precursors model to awaken change. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Lerner, R. (1990). Affirmations for the inner child .  Deerfield Beach; FL: Health Communications, Inc.