Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy

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Viktor Frankl was an existential psychologist born in Vienna in 1905.(3) Frankl believes that man needs to find meaning in the chaos of life. The key to life as Frankl saw it was to find something above and beyond one's reach to aspire toward.

Frankl developed his ideas based on his experience in World War Two. During this time Frankl spent three years in various concentration camps throughout Europe. He experienced the worst suffering imaginable and lived to tell about it. He recalls fellows prisoners losing sight of the meaning of their existence. These prisoners would lay down refusing to move and no blows or threats had any effect on them.(2 pg 82) Frankl took this knowledge and argued that the opposite must then be true. For if man is willing to waste away when he has lost meaning, then the path to a good life includes having something to live for, a meaning.

Frankl's research after the war found that 29 percent of all Vienna felt they lost meaning in their lives and these numbers were similar in the US.(2 pg 142) Frankl termed this loss of meaning the existential vacuum. He then developed logotherapy as a way of making people see the meaning in their lives. In fact "Logos" comes from Latin referring to meaning and spirit.(1 pg 74) This form of therapy then involves assisting the patient to find meaning in his life.

This theory is used mostly in cases of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, phobias and anxiety. The most common method of treatment is the use of paradoxical intention. The best way to describe this method is through the following example. A young doctor approached Frankl because of a problem he had with profuse sweating. Frankl suggested that the next time the man felt himself begin to...