The 5 W’s Explaining Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy
By: Quenell Redden
5 W’s Explaining Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy: What is Logotherapy?
5 W’s Explaining Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy: Logotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the human desire to find purpose in life. It was founded by neuropsychologist Viktor E. Frankl and is rooted in the Greek word logos, defined as meaning (Team G.T.E., 2015). According to Frankl, our existence is driven by a will to meaning,’ and that meaning can be found even in the most unfortunate or sufferable circumstances. Logotherapy is also one of the three leading scientifically based schools of psychotherapy, along with Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis Theory and Alfred Adler’s Individual Psychology (Team G.T.E., 2015).
Who is Viktor E Frankl?
As a neuropsychologist in Vienna, Frankl was very intrigued by the theories of Freud and Adler and accelerated in his studies. By 1930 Frankl graduated from Vienna Medical School and became the Director of the Neurological Department of the Rothschild Hospital (Perera, 2020). However, in 1942 Viktor E Frankl’s life would change detrimentally when he and his family were forced into a Nazi concentration camp. It is through his experiences that he began to formulate the theory of logotherapy. Not only did he believe that it was human nature to search for a life’s purpose, but he also believed that it is because of this search, even the most extenuating circumstances can be overcome.
An important variable for Frankl was that he recognized, people who survived the concertation campus often found some meaning in their survival. Frankl, in his suffering, was motivated by his desire to rewrite a manuscript that was taken from him when he was forced into Auschwitz concertation camp. After his freedom from the concentration camps, he was able to continue his work and published a novel in 1946 titled Man’s Search for Meaning. This novel described his experiences in the concentration camps and the techniques and foundation of logotherapy (Perera, 2020).
5 W’s Explaining Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy: How Does Logotherapy Work?
The functionality of logotherapy is based on three core principles, those being every person has a healthy core, the main focus on enlightening a person to their inner resources and providing them with tools to use their internal core. Lastly, while life offers purpose and meaning, it does not assure happiness or fulfilment (Rajeswari, 2015).
Following these core principles, logotherapy outlines the three distinct ways individuals can find meaning in their lives. The first is by creating work or completing a task, the second is experiencing something fully or loving somebody, or thirdly by the attitude, one adopts towards unforeseen circumstances (Perera, 2020). Frankl theorized that if an individual can fulfil one of these three ways, they will find meaning in their life despite sufferable circumstances. Additionally, it is important to note that how individuals can fulfil their purpose is unique to them and is a key component in searching for meaning.
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Techniques of logotherapy
Like the three core principles and three distinctive ways of logotherapy, there are also three techniques used for this form of psychotherapy (Rahgozar & Giménez-Llort, 2020).
Paradoxical Intervention- One must face whatever situation one is afraid of. This attempt is to help individuals overcome and address the fear that is holding them back.
Deflection-Based on the idea that when someone is suffering, they are more likely to become hyper-reflective and focus more on themselves. This technique aims to help individuals deflect the negative internalization and instead seek external meaning to the situation and allow them to think about others.
Socratic Dialogue- An interview-style therapy that uses questions to take responsibility for their life’s meaning. Typically, these questions are asked by the therapist and support in the journey of the recipient finding meaning out of traumatic situations.
5 W’s Explaining Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy: Where and When is Logotherapy Used?
Frankl’s intuition of human’s desire to search for meaning in life also centres around the idea that many psychological issues are existential. Much of Frankl’s research suggested that people who experience anxiety, hopelessness, depression, etc., benefited significantly from logotherapy. In fact, this form of treatment has shown to be efficient in treating individuals with substance abuse, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression (Tanya J. Peterson NCC & MD, 2021).
Beyond this, logotherapy is used by many mental health professionals around the world to treat other aspects of mental health like grief and loss, ADHD, Autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, Aging, and Guilt. It is because of the focus on the individual meaning that makes this type of treatment so successful in addressing various mental health issues, and these positive effects extend to better sleep, longevity, healthy ageing, improved physical health, and reduce stress (Tanya J. Peterson NCC & MD, 2021). Let us look at some examples of logotherapy when paired with various mental health issues.
5 W’s Explaining Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy: Examples of Logotherapy and Mental Health Issues
Logotherapy and Depression
When it comes to treating depression, Frankl believed that the root of depression was what he called an “existential vacuum.” This existential vacuum is the disengagement of life from both aspects of responsibilities and pleasures, which result in feeling meaningless. So, by focusing on purpose and creating goals, logotherapy has proven to reduce symptoms of depression and result in more manageable lifestyles (Tanya J. Peterson NCC & MD, 2021). Overall, the feeling of hopelessness or lack of meaning is replaced with a sense of purpose to increase the motivation for life.
Logotherapy and Addiction
The focus on purpose is also beneficial to the rehabilitation of many substance abuse users. Numerous studies have linked meaninglessness with addiction and that developing a sense of meaning can be highly effective in overcoming it. Various rehabilitation programs like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous use the same principle of finding purpose in their programs (Tanya J. Peterson NCC & MD, 2021).
Logotherapy and Burnout
Burnout is a common state of exhaustion that many people feel from time to time. This includes emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion stemming from various aspects of one’s life. Additionally, it can result in a lack of motivation to complete one’s goals. A study conducted in 2019 revealed that burnout is more likely to happen when goals are more superficial, like money and power (Riethof, N., & Bob, P.,2019). So, logotherapy can be effective in these situations because it allows the individual to move away from superficial goals to more meaningful and purposeful ones. Logotherapy also permits the exploration and acceptance of oneself as opposed to meeting other’s expectations, which have helped reduce burnout syndrome (Tanya J. Peterson NCC & MD, 2021).
5 W’s Explaining Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy: Why is Logotherapy so Important?
Overall, logotherapy is a significant school of psychotherapy. It helps us reflect on ourselves and how we interact with the world around us. More importantly, it centres around the journey of answering the long-life question of “what’s my life’s purpose?” We may not control all our circumstances or fully understand how terrible situations can happen, but we are all on this journey of making sense of it all. We all need a sense of fulfilment and purpose because it helps us endure all that life throws at us. Logotherapy offers a unique perspective and set of techniques to foster and conceptualize our need to find purpose. The purpose is what can make life worthwhile.
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Perera, A. (2020, June 26). An Overview of Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy. Logotherapy | Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/logotherapy.html.
Rahgozar, S., & Giménez-Llort, L. (2020, June 3). Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy to Improve Mental Health of Immigrant Populations in the Third Millennium. Frontiers in psychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7290245/.
Riethof, N., & Bob, P. (2019, June). Burnout syndrome and logotherapy: Logotherapy as a useful conceptual framework for explanation and prevention of burnout. Frontiers in Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00382/full
Tanya J. Peterson NCC, & MD, R. by: L. B. (n.d.). Logotherapy: How It Works, Cost, & What to Expect. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/logotherapy/.
Team, G. T. E. (2015, February 7). Logotherapy. GoodTherapy. https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/logotherapy.
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