Freud thought biology was destiny. It was not an idea likely to find favor among feminists, and it didn’t. Freud also introduced the concept of penis envy. Clearly, to his way of thinking, women could never be kings, only queens, and the latter were, for the most part, consorts rather than rulers. If gaining worldly power was the name of the game, the fairer sex had without doubt been disadvantaged. They had every reason, he thought, to be envious.
For my part, I prefer the idea that attitude, rather than biology, is destiny. The French proverb says it well: To be willing is to be able. The opposite seems true as well. To be unwilling will probably prevent most positive outcomes from happening. Ingrid Bergman was reputed to have said, “Getting what you want means success; wanting what you get means happiness.” Well, I don’t think we should always want what we get. I’m sure Viktor Frankl didn’t want his work destroyed, his wife killed, or himself taken to a series of concentration camps during the Holocaust. Yet he had a secret which saved his life while younger, fitter inmates succumbed to depression and death. Using the alchemy of his mind, he turned his concentration-camp experience into an experiment to test out his psychotherapeutic theories. The Nazis could take everything away from him except his ability to make meaning from the basest metal of experience. After the War he used what he had learned to write that richest of bestsellers, Man’s Search for Meaning, and to found the humanistic school of psychology known as Logotherapy. Perhaps my namesake Reinhold Niebuhr said it best in the Serenity Prayer: “Lord, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." May that wisdom help each of us make the best of whatever life brings us.