The Theory of Logotherapy in Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
In the following essay I will write to the third section covered in the course. That is, the section on Integrators, such as, Viktor Frankl and Erich Fromm. The focus of the paper will correlate to Frankl’s work, Man’s Search for Meaning. My goal is to properly evaluate his theory of logotherapy and explain how traces of nearly all of the human science branches we have studied can be found in this specific work. Following the said evaluation, I will briefly say what these comparisons tell me about human science. To sum it all up I will display my own personal thoughts of Integrators.
Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is a highly esteemed novel which lays out, as he puts it, “Logotherapy in a Nutshell” (Frankl 97). The book also has an autobiographical account of his time spent in concentration camp during the Holocaust to back up his theory. The entire book is garnished with a diversity of the separate branches of the human sciences. One may find their self asking how Frankl integrated all of these branches in spite of the contradictions between them. At first, it will seem as if we could only say he is one or two of these, but the fact that he does climb many branches of the human science tree shows why he is such a wonderful integrator.
The comparison between the branches will be shown in the order of how they were taught in the class. That is, starting with existentialism and phenomenology and ending with psychoanalysis. (It would be redundant to compare integrator to integrator insofar as they are already considered as being classified as people who have elements of other branches, so it is apparent that there would be comparison as well as contradictions.)
I could write an entire commentary of Frankl by strictly looking at him from an existential standpoint. For purposes of brevity I will only highlight the largest points and comparisons. Primarily, we can see all of Yalom’s Four Givens of Existence incorporated into Man’s Search for Meaning. However, there is one of the givens that exerts primacy in Frankl’s work. This would be Yalom’s given which states we must find meaning in a world that bares none. This basically is what Frankl calls logotherapy with a few more words. Logotherapy is the means used to diagnose a patient by asking them to look at yourself introspectively and retrospectively to work towards finding the meaning of your own life (Frankl 98). Existentialism as a whole is about the purpose and meaning of our existence. Frankl says that each man needs to have his own will to meaning (Frankl 99) whereas existentialism claims that each man is solely his own and therefore needs to aspire own his own.
Now I will discuss how Frankl is compared to phenomenology. In the section labeled “A Logodrama,” Frankl tells about a woman who attempted suicide because she had lost her first born and her second child was crippled (Frankl 117). Frankl proceeds to ask the woman to explain whether or not she has had a successful life. In spite of her attempted suicide, she does actually believe that her life is rewarding and found that she does have a meaning and purpose to continue. The phenomenological aspect of this is that Frankl did not ask her if her she believed her life was successful as a mother, parent, or woman, but that he simply asked if she believes she had a successful life. He stripped her of all the labels given to her and allowed her to answer the question from any perspective she wished to. Furthermore, the woman was allowed the opportunity to get into the core of her dilemma, which is a high mark of phenomenology.
Next, I will explain how Frankl’s work is somewhat psychoanalytic. As it is known Man’s Search for Meaning starts off with Frankl’s autobiographical account. Freud believes that we can find the essence of our meaning by looking to our past. The induction of Frankl’s autobiographical summary of his times in the concentration camps shows that he believed his past backed up his theory; gave foundation to what supported the meaning of his logotherapy.
The last section covered in class as of yet is humanistic psychology. Some of the goals of humanistic psychology are authenticity, self-actualization, and a mind-body connection. First, notice how authenticity is a goal. This can be found again in the fact that Frankl added his autobiographical account to his theory. By doing so he intended to authenticate his work and show that it has derived from genuine experiences. The next goal that was aforementioned was the idea of self-actualization; the act of coming to terms with one’s self and realizing one’s true inner self. After reading this book it is impossible to say that there is no self-actualization in it. “At that moment I saw the plain truth and did what marked the culminating point of the first phase of my psychological reaction: I struck out my whole former life” (Frankl, 14). Frankl shows that he has realized that in order to preserve his self he must first extinguish all attachments to his former self. The last goal of the humanistic psychology approach is the mind-body connection. The book flourishes with examples of this. Frankl says many times that if one did not have the will to survive he would not. “My mind still clung to the image of my wife”… “I didn’t even know if she were still alive” … “Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved” (Frankl 38).
After writing this evaluation, I have come to realize something about the separate branches of the human science approach. That is, that they seem to be more worried about distinguishing why they are different than attempting to explain why they are effective. I know this may seem like a blunt, if not ignorant, statement, but I do believe there is beyond sufficient information within the integrators section that can prove my claim. As I have shown in the above work, integrators can seamlessly utilize all branches of the human science approach with little to no contradictions or conflictions. This shows how these people, who have decided to not stick to a single way of approaching the mind, are able to better tackle issues without sticking to the constraints of a single branch. Therefore, they can progress through the segregation set up by the boundaries of branches of human science.
I do believe that human science is an amazing approach to psychology; however, I additionally believe that human science, like most structured organizations, loses its meaning and effectiveness in categorizing its views. For example, look at politics. Generally things are governed by a republican or democratic decision. Unfortunately, sometimes a candidate for a position must go against their own personal opinions and go for what will get them the most acceptance and support from their specific party. This can be applied directly to these branches of human science. Each person we meet is completely individual, has an individual mind, holds individual opinions, and expresses emotions in individual ways. Because of this I believe that no therapist should ever try to stick to their ideal branch. People deserve more than pot luck of what their therapist is. They deserve what makes them overcome their issues.
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In the following essay I will write to the third section covered in the course. That is, the section on Integrators, such as, Viktor Frankl and Erich Fromm. The focus […]