Viktor Frankl- Meaningfulness Psychotherapy- Part I

Viktor E. Frankl, the pioneer of existentialist therapy, termed his treatment logotherapy, from the Greek word logos, which means meaning. In part two of his book Man’s Search for Meaning, he explores some of the key concepts and techniques behind his modality and theory. By contrasting logotherapy with psychoanalysis he carves out its uniqueness and defines its tenets. Psychoanalysis concentrates largely on retrospective and introspective aspects. It focuses on unmasking inner neurotic conflicts, identifying defense mechanisms, revealing reaction formations, and uncovering sublimations. On the other hand, Logotherapy is future and fulfillment based. Unmasking the true purpose and finding fulfillment with genuine meaning is the cornerstone on which the therapy rests. Through ‘confronting’ the subject with the meaning of life, a new direction and a reorientation takes place. Learning to defocus and reorient becomes necessary with the discovery and direction of the meaning of life, and thus the pathology ceases.
While Freudian psychoanalysis is based on the will to pleasure, and Adlerian analysis is based on the will to power, logo therapy is based on the will to meaning. Meaning isn’t secondary to other motives; rather it’s at the core of all human existence. It’s the most primitive instinctual force of al drives. Accordingly, meaning is at the center while other drives are sublimation of meaning.
The will to meaning is an autonomous fulfillment that can only be accomplished with the aloneness of the individual’s choice. Why should I live? Needs to be asked and answered within the depth of the individuality of the self. Of course there are pseudo meaning which need to be unmasked, however when the genuine meaning is found, to continue to uncover is nothing more than a distraction.
Existence includes three positions, the mode of being, the meaning of existence, and the will to meaning.
Traditionally conflict and distress are viewed as neurosis and pathology, however according to logotherapy it’s quite the contrary. Distress is actually the will towards achievement. Tension indicates the discrepancy between what is and what needs to become. The tension and orientation which propels us to choose is health. Tensionless and equilibrium is actually stagnation while tension and distress is the motivation and prerequisite for accomplishment. The tension between the present and the future is the key that catapults meaning and mission.


4 thoughts on “Viktor Frankl- Meaningfulness Psychotherapy- Part I

    1. Personally I find helping and promoting human well being very satisfying and meaningful, however I’m not sure what constitutes the core characteristic of a meaningful life

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