Excerpts from the book New Perspectives on Contraception by Dr. Donald DeMarco


Manipulating time and the events that transpire in time in order to illustrate the moral significance and the drama of human life has been used with great success…

(p.7)…When married people practice contraception, it is usually because the child they want to avoid at the time is judged to represent more difficulties than they are prepared to assume. This is perhaps the sensible choice, but certainly not the dramatic one. Most people seem to be fearful of dramatic uncertainty and try to orchestrate their lives accordingly. Security and predictability is what they prefer. Drama is for fiction, not for "real life."

A story, needless to say, is as dull as dishwater if it has no drama. But the moral significance of a good story, like the three outlined above, is to remind us that by clinging to security, we deny ourselves the chance of living out the story we are destined to live, one that is (p.8) much more personally fulfilling. In a word, our desire for security can contracept our experience of authenticity. We should not relegate good stories to the realm of mere entertainment. We should be able to profit from them on a moral level. A good story suggests to us that there is a noble plan we are all destined to realize, one that is fraught with difficulties and uncertainties, but infinitely more enriching than the relatively colorless lives we often select.

The three aforementioned stories, by imaginatively altering the natural sequence of time, help us to be more appreciative of the wholeness of life. They remind us how each moment in the
present, which soon becomes part of the past, has a vital bearing on the future. Contraception rests on a philosophy of life that assigns exaggerated importance to the difficulties of the moment and de-emphasizes the significance of everything else on the time spectrum. The stories give us perspective, and teach us that by overcoming difficulties we can realize a higher plan.

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl is the founder of the school of logotherapy, which has been hailed as the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy. Logotherapy is a technique of healing people by helping them to find the meaning of their lives. It is Frankl's firm conviction that man is more profoundly a meaning-oriented being than a comfort or pleasure seeking being. "Man can endure any how," he writes, ''as long as he has a why." He warns, then, that any absence of tension in one's life can be as dangerous to one's mental health as too much tension.5

One aspect of the logotherapy technique is to invite patients to see their lives in perspective, that is, to transcend the moment and view life as a whole. When they do this, they begin to see that suffering and uncertainty are not necessarily negative factors that should always be avoided, but can actually contribute to an overall sense of life's meaning. Suffering may indeed be needed so that this higher meaning can be realized.

Logotherapy provides perspective and it assists people in overcoming their fear of the future. Because of this, it can be a great help in counteracting a contraceptive philosophy of life. The imaginative perspective that both logotherapy and good storytelling provide have much in common with the natural law. All three emphasize that meaning, authenticity, and personal fulfillment often require taking the higher road, one that is strewn with obstacles, hazards, and difficulties. Helpful as they may be, however, they still require some measure of faith, since few if any of us can read the future.


2001 Catholics Against Contraception