•Logotherapy is a scientifically based school of psychotherapy, based on the belief that the search for meaning even amidst misery can constitute a potential solution to human suffering.
•Meaning can be found by creating a work, loving someone, or adopting a modified attitude toward inevitable suffering.
•Three techniques used in logotherapy include dereflection, paradoxical intention, and Socratic dialogue.
•Logotherapy is used today for a variety of purposes, including addiction, pain and guilt, anxiety, grief, and depression.
Born in 1905, Viktor Frankl grew up learning the theories ofSigmund FreudandAlfred Adler(Encyclopædia Britannica, 2019). Having graduated from the University of Vienna Medical School in 1930, he went on to become the Director of the Neurological Department of the Rothschild Hospital.
In 1942, however, his life abruptly changed when Frankl was deported to a Nazi concentration camp along with his family. While struggling to survive in the Nazi camp, drawing from his experiences as well as observations, he developed the theory of logotherapy which claimed that through a search for meaning in life, individuals can endure and overcome suffering.
Logotherapy literally means therapy through meaning. Frankl believed that humans are motivated by something called a “will to meaning,” which corresponds to a desire to seek and make meaning in life. .
“Inasmuch as logotherapy makes him aware of the hidden logos of his existence, it is an analytical process” (Frankl, 1984, p. 125).
Viktor Frankl coined the term logotherapy based on his belief that the search for meaning even amidst suffering can constitute a potential solution to human suffering.
Logotherapy has been recognized as a scientifically based school of psychotherapy by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Society (Schulenberg, Hutzell, Nassif, and Rogina, 2008).
At the heart of Frankl’s philosophy are three essential properties (Rajeswari, 2015):
•1. Every person possesses a healthy core.
•2. The main focus is upon enlightening a person to his or her own inner resources, and providing him or her with the tools to use their internal core.
•3. While life offers purpose and meaning, it does not assure happiness or fulfillment.
“Finding meaning or the will to meaning is the primary motivation for living….the meaning that an individual finds is unique to each person and can be fulfilled only by that one person….Frankl emphasized that the true meaning of each person’s life is something that must be discovered by activity in the world through interaction with others, not solely through introspection….. Challenging a person with a potential meaning to fulfill evokes the will to meaning.” (Graber, 2004, p. 65)
Logotherapy holds that human beings are driven to find purpose and meaning in life. It offers three distinct ways whereby one can discover meaning in life (Devoe, 2012):
•1. Creative value:By creating a work or accomplishing a task.
•2. Experiential value:Receiving something from the world through appreciation and gratitude. By fully experiencing something or loving someone.
•3. Attitudinal value:By the adopting a certain attitude toward inevitable suffering.
Frankl held that life includes suffering, and that a human being’s ultimate freedom lay in his or her responding correctly to the given circumstances, including those which have engendered pain.
Furthermore, Frankl believed that one can discover meaning in one’s existence by finding one’s unique role in life. An oft cited incident which further clarifies Frankl’s approach was an elderly general practitioner’s encounter with Frankl (Cuncic, 2019).
The elderly man was struggling with depression following the loss of his wife. After Frankl showed him how his wife’s death had actually spared her of losing him, the elderly man saw how his own experiences had preserved his wife from the same.