What makes logotherapy different?

Meaning-centered

We’re not focused on the problem but on the meaning and on the person behind the problem who is being challenged with this. We want to look at who this person is and we assume that everything that happens to him has a purpose and that every life, even when a person suffers, has a unique meaning to it. Rather than feeling disadvantaged, the person’s attention is turned to who he is and the values that make up his essential being.

Future-orientation

As a future-oriented philosophy logotherapy instills hope and it exercises the power of love

Although logotherapy has its own particular approach, no approach is complete without it. The ingredients that set logotherapy apart in its primary focus can be divided into two basic categories: its view of man and its view of the world.

View of man

Logotherapy includes the spiritual dimension of man. As opposed to a reductionistic view that breaks a person into parts, this is a holistic view that sees the soul as the essence of who we are. As such it shines in its ability to access human strengths such as the defiant power, humor, choice, self-distancing, transcendence and so forth.

Man is an open system, reaching towards meaning. Thus unlike the strengths and “empowerment” in an Adlerian or Freudian approach that perceives man as primarily seeking power of seeking pleasure or a Rogerian approach that assumes the answers can all be found within, meaning must be found out there. It can’t be found within the limited confines of yourself. You have to look beyond yourself to find meaning.

Homeostasis vs. tension

We’re not seeking homeostasis so that we can be rid of the “problem.” Instead we say the tension between what is and what ought to be is good. It leads us to take a stand, want to change things and clarify what we want to say “no” to and what to say “yes” to. In short it makes us grow.

Task-quality of life

Frankl emphasize the task quality of life. He said: Do not ask what you expect from life but ask what life expects from you!

He elucidates this in his first book, The Doctor and the Soul.

“The conviction that one has a task before him has enormous psychotherapeutic and psychogenic value. We venture to say that nothing is more likely to help a person overcome or endure objective difficulties or subjective troubles than the consciousness of having a task in life. That is all the more so when the task seems to be personally cut to suit, as it were; when it constitutes what may be called a mission. Having such a task makes the person irreplaceable and gives his life the value of uniqueness…The more he grasps the task quality of life, the more meaningful will his life appear to him. While the man who is not conscious of his responsibility simply takes life as a given fact, existential analysis teaches people to see life as an assignment.” (The Doctor and the Soul, pp. 56-58)]

Will to Meaning

Unlike Freud, the strongest motivation in a person is the will to meaning and wanting life to have a purpose

Emphasis on choice

Even if there’s nothing else you can do you can choose your attitude.

View of reality

Unlike those existentialists who believe life is meaningless and we have to fabricate some kind of meaning Frankl posits that life is unconditionally meaningful. Meaning must be found

We’re not here just to manage with this rotten deal and side with the person about the unfairness of life and try to boost his confidence in opposition to the world but rather we challenge the person because life itself is challenging him for some end and we want him to be aware of his responsibility and his calling. We want to help him to hear the call that is meant to bring him into his authentic being so that he will do at every given moment what’s been given him to do. In the most practical sense this means being focused not on what is beyond his control but on what he can do.

We need to trust that life is guiding us. The contrary force is there for you to overcome it. Your life is not arbitrary but has a purpose. You grow through challenges and the stand you take. Seeing life as a series of opportunities directs the person to take up the invitation and follow it.

This attitude towards life makes logotherapy the most optimistic approach to therapy as well as the most realistic one.

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2 Responses to What makes logotherapy different?

  1. Henry Mason says:

    Firstly, my apologies for not addressing the author directly, but I am not sure who authored this well written piece.
    I am a diplomate logotherapy student in South Africa who is enrolled for the ‘research track.’ With that being said, I should add that I am truly appreciative of your reference to the phrase ‘meaning-centered.’
    Currently I am exploring what ‘meaning-centered research’ refers to and will present my ideas during the next logotherapy training session in South Africa.
    Your piece made me realise that logotherapy researchers ought not to focus exclusively on the ‘research problem’, but also on the meanings that are ‘hidden’ by the specific research problem. In other words, on the potential meaning that both participants and researchers ought to discover via the research initiative. I could summarise this by saying that meaning-centered research ought to be conducted with an ‘ethic of meaning-centered empowerment’ in mind.

    Kind regards,
    Henry

  2. logogroup says:

    Dear Henry, thank you for contributing your thoughts and for your appreciation of my writing. (if not stated otherwise, the writing is done by myself.) I like your term “ethic of meaning-centered empowerment.” Won’t you consider writing for the blog? You can send it to my email at batya.yaniger@gmail.com and I will post it with your name as the author. As long as it does not hurt your research to write prematurely I’d like to hear about your findings.

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