Logotherapy

Logotherapy is considered a school of psychotherapy conceived and perpetuated by Viktor Frankl. It is called the third school of psychotherapy following Sigmund Freud's psychotherapy and Alfred Adler's individual psychology. A survivor of the Holocaust, Frankl emphasized his own personal experience in the development of the school's theories. Logotherapy asserts that the essential motivation for man is to find meaning, and so reinvigorating an individual's motivation and perhaps giving that person direction would constitute a plausible therapy for the patient. The approach has been criticized as overly religious and presumptuous, risking ignoring truly pressing matters with the assumption there is some abstract target that would resolve a person's ills. Additionally, it could be said to suppress life experiences that are relevant to a patient's recovery in a distracting way.

Frankl asserts three primary assumptions that premise logotherapy. First, he asserts that an individual's main purpose for living is to find meaning in life. Second, he argues that life has meaning in all situations even when they are oppressive or negative. Third, it is within a person's power to find meaning or add meaning in a given situation. Frankl may be outlining assumptions the therapist should assert to the patient rather than stating a philosophical belief or a fact. Frankl asserted that an individual has the capability to triumph over actual or perceived adversity by detaching from a situation and maintaining a positive or optimistic attitude, primarily in the conscious pursuit of purpose to experiences that would supposedly alleviate the patient's concerns for whatever ails him or her. Frankl was heavily criticized for his advocacy of religious practice and depth in conjunction with logotherapy, given it might not be relevant to all patients. He is said to have de-emphasized that aspect of his recommendations later, though some might say demonstrating the drawbacks in his theories.

In order to maintain the positive notions of Frankl's theories, logotherapy is more oriented toward the future rather than dwelling on the past. Despite the negative notions of many others influenced by existential philosophy, Frankl maintained positive notions of humanity and its experiences. In relation to his thinking about the attitude of a subject, Frankl emphasized a conceptual "tragic optimism" where, in spite of adversity and tragedy all around the subject, positive thinking and a focus on the hopes or potential for the future can carry a person through a difficult experience. Given the criticisms though, logotherapy is seen as an adjunct therapy that does not replace regular treatment. The emphasis in the mode of therapy is capturing meaning in something important or potentially important in life, whether it be an action, a person or an idea.

Logotherapy has also been cited for use in other disciplines of psychology because of its relevance to motivation and positive thinking. It has been used as both a philosophy and method for organizational psychology, where there might be a need to define the point of a team project or initiation of a new company. Allegedly, the emphasis on the concept can motivate team members to focus their topics of conversation and make interactions more relevant, meaningful and productive. Constantly reviewing work with different purposes in mind maintains the focus or reason of the undertaking and gives project managers or workers a clearer explanation as to why the initiative exists and what needs to be done.

Logotherapy, classically, has been applied to a variety of psychological disorders from common counseling to psychoses. Patients suffering from anxiety, neuroses, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and end-of-life issues have all been subject to experiments and orders of treatment using the technique. Additionally, experiments with sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder have been conducted. Frankl believed there are common occurrences of so-called "hyper-intention" and "hyper-reflection" that focus too much on accomplishing an external goal or solving an internal problem; those attempts may fail because of excessive exertion and a ramping up of anxiety. This is related to the concept of anticipatory anxiety where one might develop a fear of a certain outcome, even if that outcome might be perceived to be good, because it is unknown.

Logotherapy: Selected full-text books and articles

On the Theory and Therapy of Mental Disorders: An Introduction to Logotherapy and Existential Analysis
James M. Dubois; Viktor E. Frankl.
Brunner-Routledge, 2004
Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl.
Perseus Publishing, 1997 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: This is by Viktor Frankl, the founder of logotherapy. Logotherapy is discussed throughout.
The Human Quest for Meaning: A Handbook of Psychological Research and Clinical Applications
Paul T. P. Wong; Prem S. Fry.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "The Basic Tenets of Logotherapy" begins on p. 397
Approaches to Psychology
William E. Glassman; Marilyn Hadad.
Open University Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Frankl's Logotherapy" begins on p. 283
Handbook of Motivational Counseling: Concepts, Approaches, and Assessment
W. Miles Cox; Eric Klinger.
Wiley, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 18 "Viktor E. Frankl's Existential Analysis and Logotherapy"
Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy: Spirituality and Meaning in the New Millennium
Barnes, Robert C.
TCA Journal, Vol. 28, No. 1, Spring 2000
Becoming Bamboo: Western and Eastern Explorations of the Meaning of Life
Robert E. Carter.
McGill-Queen's University Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Viktor Frankl and Logotherapy"
Viktor Frankl--Recollections: An Autobiography
Viktor E. Frankl; Joseph Fabry; Judith Fabry.
Insight Books, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "The Beginnings of Logotherapy" begins on p. 64
Viktor Frankl, the Champion of Humanness
Lowen, Jeannette.
Free Inquiry, Vol. 21, No. 1, Winter 2000
Cognitive Therapy and Logotherapy: Contrasting Views on Meaning
Dyck, Murray J. Ma.
Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, Vol. 1, No. 3, January 1, 1987
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Red Vienna and the Golden Age of Psychology, 1918-1938
Sheldon Gardner; Gwendolyn Stevens.
Praeger, 1992
Librarian’s tip: "Viktor Frankl" begins on p. 178
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