Logotherapy was developed by a psychologist who went on to survive six concentration camps. His name was Viktor E. Frankl. Dr. Frankl had this theory before being sent to the camps, but it was through the fires of hell that the theory became cemented, both as an approach and in the minds of general public.
Man is free within the confines of his situation to
choose how to interact with circumstances. Man is not free from
conditions, he is free to take a stand towards conditions. “Things
determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining.”
Life is composed of possibilities. Our decisions in the past determine
our actualized possibilities versus the potentialities that never came
to fruition. Based on this concept, people should not look at their
past as failed or missed opportunities, instead they should look at
their lives as an account of themselves and their lives.
As an analogy, think of a calendar. Some people take a page off a day and count themselves as having one less day to live. Logotherapy would have you take off that day’s page, take notes on it, and put it in a scrapbook, to mark what you have achieved and experienced.
Because meaning is the goal, experiences themselves are not what should be pursued. Pleasure is a side effect or byproduct of other actions. To focus on pleasure for its own sake is to be ever eluded by it. Instead, focus on living a good life, that fulfills your desires for meaning and value, and all the other marvels of life will happen naturally.
Modern Western culture suffers from a personal and private form of
nihilism. Nihilism is taken to mean that there is no meaning in being.
The nothingbutness of Nature VS. Nurture leads people to assume a
fatalistic belief that all of their actions are solely predetermined by their genetic disposition and environmental past. This reduces the
individual to a self-aware machine that must pursue its dispositional
drives regardless of morality and free will.
Logotherapy as a Technique
Logotherapy is the concept that maladaptive behavior comes from
maladaptive beliefs and that Psychological remedies must come from a change in beliefs and focus.
If someone is obsessive compulsive, encourage them to do the opposite of their compulsion, and have them ridicule their compulsion while they do it.
If someone over-sweats out of fear for over-sweating, encourage that
person to try to sweat as much as possible in public.
If someone cannot fall asleep because they know that they have to get up early, encourage them not to try to fall asleep. Have them try not to fall asleep.
These problems come from an inordinate emphasis and focus on the wrong objects. To correct these problems, one must face the fears that limit and control the individual. The individual must also find actual and personal meaning in daily actions and stop focusing on a desired
- Anticipatory Anxiety
The act of anticipating something unpleasant or undesirable so much so that the feared result is inevitable and oftentimes more severe than otherwise.
- Hyper Intention
The act of wanting something so much so that it becomes unattainable.
- Hyper Reflection
The act of focusing on oneself at the expense of the proper object of focus. Results in a loss of pleasure and oftentimes reinforcing unhealthy habits.
- Paradoxical Intention
The act of deliberately embracing a feared result in order to overcome anxiety and fixation.
The act of removing focus from inappropriate objects and directing focus onto proper objects.