What is Logotherapy in Psychology?

January 19, 2020
It seems more and more difficult to live in harmony. Oftentimes, we feel like we're not going anywhere in life. Does this sound familiar? Keep reading to find out more about logotherapy.

Logotherapy is an interesting approach to handling the struggles of life. It’s a psychotherapeutic method that helps people regain a sense of meaning. It allows those who suffer from existential emptiness to overcome it and rechannel their goals.

Perhaps you feel an inner emptiness despite “having it all.”  Sometimes, it seems that regardless of our accomplishments and the many things we have, these things are not enough to fulfill us.

That’s where logotherapy comes in.

Most of the traditional therapeutic paradigms have ignored part of the human psychological dimension. The desire for meaning, for example, is often ignored in pursuit of simply “making the symptoms go away.” However, logotherapy can help bring this depth into your treatment. 

Keep reading to find out what logotherapy is and how it might help you.

What’s logotherapy?

Logotherapy comes from the third Viennese school of psychology and was born with psychiatrist and neurologist Viktor Frankl. It came after Freudian psychoanalysis and the individual psychology of Adler Alfred.

Frankl’s approach is based on “will to meaning,” as opposed to Adler’s doctrine that promotes “will to power.”

From a logotherapy perspective, the goal of human existence is meaning. However, this notion becomes even more powerful when you find out that its creator, Viktor Frankl, was imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps. Frankl believes that he managed to survive this dark experience because he found a way to make sense of his existence. This is equivalent to saying that he found a “logo,” which comes from the Greek word that means “the meaning of something.”

A woman breathing fresh air.
Logotherapy is a psychotherapeutic method that aims to help people regain their meaning of life.

Attitude is everything

No one can definitively assure you that you can overcome all difficulties. However, Frankl’s experience in the concentration camps in Auschwitz was as terrible as you can imagine. However, it was the attitude he assumed before life that allowed him to survive. The fact that he had the right attitude about the difficult experience he lived during World War II turned these traumatic circumstances into learning experiences.

You may want to read: The Four Things That Matter Most in Life

The aspects of logotherapy

There are three basic pillars of logotherapy: an anthropological one, a psychotherapeutic one, and a philosophical one. From an anthropological perspective, Frankl takes the freedom of will to affirm that humans can make our own decisions and are free to choose our own destiny.

“The ruins are often what open the windows to look at the sky.” -Viktor Frankl

Meanwhile, psychotherapy promotes freedom of meaning. Finally, philosophy reaffirms the meaning of life – which is impossible to lose, according to the postulates of logotherapy.

Proven through experience

Viktor Frankl really knew the meaning of living under the postulates of his own theory. This is because he developed it while in the concentration camps. It was in there where Frankl realized the need to release everything he had assumed and accumulated in life. Instead, he connected with the bare essentials of existence.

Frankl soon discovered that this was a truly powerful way to discover the things that are truly important to us. When we begin to see the most basic aspects of our essence, then our life can regain meaning.

Discover: Seven Ways to Love Your Life

A face made of negative space.
Through logotherapy, a person can release what hinders them and recover the meaning of their life. All while highlighting those things that are characteristic of their essence.

The practice in therapy

It’s easy to understand why psychodramas are so important in therapy. In logotherapy, therapists often use dramatizations with patients so that they can strip down the superfluous elements to see their essence. There are encouraged to face the truth that life could end at any moment, but not to let this frighten them, but instead to empower them.

Thus, they can make meaningful changes. These are the changes that a person must introduce in their life to see the difference and achieve their own sense of life, their “logo.” As Frankl said:

Man’s Search for Meaning is not an ingenious title for a book. It’s the definition of a human being. This is because human beings are seekers of meaning.”

Frankl’s experiences in the concentration camps led him to bring all of his ideas into a book entitled Man’s Search for Meaning. One of the enigmatic phrases of this author, that in fact belongs to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, says:

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Logotherapy intervenes is the existential dimension. Thus, people who experience conflicts of values, or live existential crises can benefit from it in their brave pursuit of meaning.

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