How does logotherapy differ from psychoanalysis?

As described in Man's Search for Meaning, logotherapy is distinct from psychoanalysis in that it puts the quest for meaning rather than pleasure at the center of human behavior.

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While influenced in part by Freudian psychoanalysis, Viktor Frankl's logotherapy is quite distinct from it as well.

Firstly, Frankl claims that psychoanalysis focuses on the past, while logotherapy focuses on the future. When being psychoanalyzed, a patient usually goes through their past in order to discern the roots of their present problems and neuroses. Finding out these causes (presumably located in the unconscious mind) is meant to bring about healing or at least understanding. As Frankl describes it, psychoanalysis is both "retrospective" and "introspective." In contrast, logotherapy looks to the future. It tries to give meaning to the patient's life so that, in the future, they can live satisfied and with purpose.

Secondly, logotherapy puts a quest for meaning at the center of an individual's life as opposed to pleasure. Freudian psychoanalysis assumes people are mostly driven by pleasure, particularly sexual pleasure. Logotherapy assumes that people are instead driven by meaning. Most people want to feel their lives have a purpose. As Frankl observes, "logotherapy sees in responsibleness the very essence of human existence." Suffering, therefore, is not something necessarily to be avoided (if it even can be avoided in the first place, which, as in the case of Frankl's imprisonment, the loss of a loved one, or a terminal illness, it often cannot) but something to regard with a sense of drive. As long as people can look to the future with a goal in mind—bearing pain with courage, taking care of someone else, or working on a project—they can be satisfied with their lives.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 24, 2021
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