Logotherapy was developed by neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. It is considered the "third Viennese school of psychotherapy after Freud's psychoanalysis and Adler's individual psychology. It is a type of existentialist analysis that focuses on a will to meaning as opposed to Adler's Nietzschian doctrine of "will to power" or Freud's will to pleasure.

Basic principles

The following list of tenets represents Frankl's basic principles of Logotherapy:

  • Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
  • Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
  • We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.

The human spirit is referred to in several of the assumptions of Logotherapy, but it should be noted that the use of the term spirit is not "spiritual" or "religious". In Frankl's view, the spirit is the will of the human being. The emphasis, therefore, is on the search for meaning, which is not necessarily the search for God or any other supernatural being. Frankl also noted the barriers to humanity's quest for meaning in life. He warns against "...affluence, hedonism, [and] materialism..." in the search for meaning.

Treatment of Neurosis

Frankl cites two neurotic pathogens: hyper-intention, a forced intention toward some end which makes that end unattainable; and hyper-reflection, an excessive attention to oneself which stifles attempts to avoid the neurosis to which one thinks oneself predisposed. Frankl identified anticipatory anxiety, a fear of a given outcome which makes that outcome more likely. To relieve the anticipatory anxiety and treat the resulting neuroses, logotherapy offers paradoxical intention, wherein the patient intends to do the opposite of his hyper-intended goal.

A person, then, who fears (ie: experiences anticipatory anxiety over) not getting a good night's sleep may try too hard (that is, hyper-intend) to fall asleep, and this would hinder his ability to do so. A logotherapist would recommend, then, that he go to bed and intentionally try not to fall asleep. This would relieve the anticipatory anxiety which kept him awake in the first place, thus allowing him to fall asleep in an acceptable amount of time.

Frankl's Holocaust experience

A short introduction to this system is given in Frankl's most famous book, "Man's Search for Meaning", in which he outlines how his theories helped him to survive his Holocaust experience and how that experience further developed and reinforced his theories.



Viktor, Frankl Man's Search for Meaning. Crumbaugh, James C. Logotherapy: New Help for Problem Drinkers. Burnham, Inc. (June 1979)

External links

Search another word or see Logotherapyon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature