Logotherapy is basically a therapeutic approach which focuses on helping people in finding purpose in life. It is a form of psychotherapy which has its focus on the future, how we handle the hardships in our lives and how we handle the sufferings through a search of purpose in our lives.
Dr. Viktor Emil Frankl (1905-1977) was a Viennese psychiatrist and a neurologist, who was often misunderstood to adopt a more humanistic approach towards psychology or as a popular writer with an existential view. It is a little unjust to say that; what he was and what he has given to us as a community through his ideas and theories are much more eclectic.
According to Dr. Viktor, the motivational drive for all human beings is searching for the meaning of our own existence. Frankl’s novel ‘Man’s search for Meaning’, sold over 11 million copies in 20 different languages (Boeree, 2006). In another book, titled: Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen, he shares his horrific experience of 4 different concentration camps and how his entire family was murdered by Nazis. In between all this madness he continued to find purpose and meaning of his sufferings and gifted us, people, what is known today as logotherapy. His treatment approach went beyond existential counselling and included ‘then’ used medical tools like hypnosis, electroconvulsive therapy, psychopharmaceuticals, and relaxation techniques. The literal translation of the name of the title of the book is “Saying yes to life despite everything.”
Frankl insisteds on the primary need for humanity and said that it is to find the meaning of existence and not enjoyment or power. The idea is that humans have the “freedom of choice” even in catastrophic situations. People are asking more existential questions like “who am I?” and “what is the purpose in life?” and may also seek help for the existential crises they are facing in their lives. Therefore, it can be said that in the coming years' logotherapy has a chance of wider acceptance as well as application. It is a therapy through which the therapist helps the client search for meaning in life. Although it also has a psychotherapeutic application in treating insomnia, impotence, and anxiety. Undoubtedly, Dr. Viktor’s life experiences played a major role in guiding him throughout his path in formulating logotherapy.
Viktor Frankl’s theory of mental illness turned out to be a bridge between the two worlds of lived experiences and medical science and practice.
This denotes that when we are not yet in sync with our absolute truth, we mustn’t be discouraged. We should continue to find contentment with what we have and correct our perception and show some courage to be “biased”. In n-number of choices and theories of psychopathology we as therapists, have the duty to choose the most righteous approach for our client which requires one to be biased as long as we are conscious of it. Speaking of biases, Frankl understands them as our need to see and articulate things from a definite perspective.
The original name of logotherapy was “height psychology” in response to the Freudian “depth psychology”. Depth psychology focused on the insight that a man naturally has and the unconscious processes that take place within him. Whereas height psychology promoted the idea that people can transcend these natural processes and achieve something which will help them in the present and the future and will be much more fulfilling in life. In Greek, logos denote meaning, so logotherapy literally means searching for meaning. Frankl strictly distinguishes that searching for meaning for life has nothing to do with spirituality or religion it simply means finding meaning or purpose in one’s life and tasks he has to do.
Three principle elements govern logotherapy:
People can find meaning and purpose in life even in the most unfortunate circumstances.
The motivational force that drives us all is to find meaning in life.
Humanity has freedom of choice.
There are three main techniques which are used in Logotherapy.
It is used when the person is not able to think about something else rather than his own self. He is so absorbed in his own issues and goals that he cannot think of anything else than that. Either the reflection is made towards his own self or it is dereflected from his own self so that he can think about others also.
Paradoxical Intention is asking the client the things about which he fears the most. People who are suffering from anxiety and phobias can feel paralized when they are having the situations or even when they think about the situations. For this they can make the use of humor and ridicule for the things they fear for.
Socratic dialogues is a technique in which the person notices and interprets his own words. The therapist notices how the person is describing and pointing out his own words and then helping them to see the meanings in them.
By having a creative, experimental, and open mindset, one can make meaningful and mindful choices even in adversities. He stressed that people should not suffer unnecessarily to find meaning but understand that suffering is inevitable. For example, a man who has an incurable disease can also continue to show courage and still discover the meaning of his life. Moreover, he believed in the concept of tragic optimism, meaning that people are capable of optimism despite the hardship they face. He believed that all humans are subject to a “tragic triad” namely: guilt, death, and unavoidable suffering. And the meaning of life differs from person to person and from situation to situation. He focuses on the self-transcendence of human existence. Hence, he asserts that there is no fixed meaning in life that can be generalized to all human beings but an idiosyncratic meaning that varies at any given moment.
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