Visual impairment and the meaning of life in Oskari Lehtivaara’s life story
For a person with disability, finding or constructing meaning in life is often challenging. In this article, we analyze the autobiography of Oskari Lehtivaara, a visually impaired man, as an example how meaning and purpose can be found. As our theoretical tools, we deploy the logotherapeutic ideas of Viktor Frankl, the “model of narrative circulation” (NMC) proposed by Vilma Hänninen, and the person-centred approach proposed by Jack Martin. Lehtivaara was born in 1909 in a formerly wealthy but impoverished family. He lost his sight as seven years old, attended a school for the visually impaired, and started to support himself early on by making and selling brushes. As an adult, he was active in organizations for the visually impaired and he became the editor of the magazine for the visually impaired as well as the manager of the visually impaired people’s print association. Reading, writing and Esperanto were his cherished hobbies. As interpreted by the concepts of MNC, the meaningfulness of Lehtivaara’s life was constructed by consistently pursuing the dreams and values he had developed in his youth.