How Logotherapy Can Help You Find Meaning in Life - Deepstash
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Viktor Frankl: the founder of logotherapy

Viktor Frankl: the founder of logotherapy

From 1940 to 1942, Victor Frankl was a director of the Neurological Department of the Rothschild Hospital, and from 1946 to 1970 he was the director of Vienna Polyclinic of Neurology.

As the only member of his family to survive the Nazi concentration camps, he developed a theory that individuals can endure hardship and suffering through searching for meaning and purpose.

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Logotherapy

"Logos" is Greek for meaning, and logotherapy is used to help patients find personal meaning in life.

Viktor Frankl believed humans are motivated by a desire to find meaning in life. He argued that even in the most miserable circumstances, life can have meaning. Viktor Frankl wrote one thing that can't be taken from a person is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.

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Core properties of logotherapy

  • Each person has a healthy core.
  • The primary focus is to enlighten others to their own internal resources and supply the tools to use their inner core.
  • Life offers purpose and meaning. However, it does not promise fulfilment and happiness.

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How to discover meaning in life

One can discover meaning in life by doing the following:

  • Creating a work (like art) or doing a deed.
  • Experiencing something or encountering someone.
  • By the attitude that we take toward unavoidable suffering.

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Basic assumptions of logotherapy

  • Body, mind, and spirit. Viktor Frankl argued that we have a body and mind, but that the spirit is what we are.
  • Life has meaning in all circumstances, even in the most miserable situations.
  • Meaning is our primary motivation for living.
  • In all circumstances, individuals have the freedom to access the will and find meaning.
  • For decisions to be meaningful, the actions of daily life should match the individuals' conscience.
  • Individuals are unique and irreplaceable.

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Techniques used in logotherapy

  • Dereflection: Helping someone focus away from themselves and toward other people, so they spend less time being self-absorbed.
  • Paradoxical intention: This technique involves wishing for the thing that is feared most. For example, a person with a fear of looking foolish might be encouraged to look foolish on purpose.
  • Socratic dialogue: This tool is used to help a patient through self-discovery using his or her own words.

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Criticism of logotherapy

In 1961, psychologist Rollo May, founder of the existential movement in the United States, argued that logotherapy was equivalent to authoritarianism, where the therapist dictates solutions to the patient.

It may be that logotherapy argues that there are always clear solutions to problems and that the therapist's task is to find these. But Viktor Frankl argued that logotherapy really educates the patient to take responsibility.

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Applying the principles of logotherapy

  • Create something. It gives you a sense of purpose which adds meaning to your life.
  • Develop relationships. It will help you to develop a greater sense of meaning.
  • Find purpose in pain. If you are struggling through something bad, try to find purpose in it.
  • Understand that life is not fair, but it can always have meaning.
  • Freedom to find meaning. You are free to find meaning out of any life situation.
  • Focus on others to help you through feeling stuck in a situation.
  • Accept the worst. It lowers the power it has over you.

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