Psychiatrist and psychotherapist Viktor Frankl developed logotherapy after surviving Nazi concentration camps in the 1940s. His experience and theories are detailed in his book, "Man’s Search for Meaning."
Frankl believed that humans are motivated by something called a "will to meaning," This opinion was based on his experiences in the concentration camps and his intent to find meaning through his suffering. In this way, Frankl believed that when we can no longer change a situation, we are forced to change ourselves.
MORE IDEAS FROM What to Know About Logotherapy
Logotherapy is a therapeutic approach that helps people find personal meaning in life. It’s a form of psychotherapy that is focused on the future and on our ability to endure hardship and suffering through a search for purpose.
Logotherapy may improve resilience—or the ability to withstand adversity, stress, and hardship. This may be due to the skills that this form of therapy encourages people to develop, like:
Allowance of "healthy" stress
An active approach to life (rather than an avoidant or overly passive one)
Cognitive reappraisal, or reinterpreting the meaning of an event
Courage to face fears
Optimism even in the face of tragedy
Spirituality (which may or may not be religious)
Socratic dialogue is a tool used to help you through the process of self-discovery by noticing and interpreting your own words. During Socratic dialogue, your therapist listens closely to the way you describe things and points out your word patterns, helping you to see the meaning in them. This process is believed to help you realize your own answers—often, these are already present within you and are just waiting to be discovered.
Frankl believed that it was possible to turn suffering into achievement and accomplishment. He viewed guilt as an opportunity to change oneself for the better and life transitions as the chance to take responsible action.
In this way, logotherapy is aimed at helping you to make better use of your "spiritual" resources to withstand adversity. Three techniques intended to help with this process include dereflection, paradoxical intention, and Socratic dialogue.
Perhaps not surprisingly, there is evidence that meaning in life correlates with better mental health. This knowledge might be applied in areas such as:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Paradoxical intention is a technique that invites you to wish for the thing that you fear most. This was originally suggested for use in the case of anxiety or phobias, in which humor and ridicule can be used when fear is paralyzing.
Dereflection is aimed at helping you focus away from yourself and toward other people allowing you to become "whole" and to spend less time feeling preoccupied with a problem or worry.
This technique is meant to combat "hyper-reflection," or extreme focus on an anxiety-provoking situation or object. Hyper-reflection is often common in people with anticipatory anxiety.
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.
"In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning."
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