What is logotherapy in a nutshell?

As described in Man's Search for Meaning, logotherapy is a psychotherapeutic method that places the search for meaning at the center of human behavior.

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Logotherapy is a psychotherapeutic method rooted in existentialist thought. It is a system grounded in the idea that people want to assign meaning to their lives and that a great deal of suffering comes from not being able to find such meaning (in fact, the Greek word logos means "meaning"). People tend to be unhappy when they drift through life aimlessly or cannot apply meaning to their sufferings. When pain, in particular, seems arbitrary, it can seem unbearable.

Logotherapy was designed by the Austrian psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl. Its tenets are most powerfully outlined in his book Man's Search for Meaning, where he both describes logotherapy and applies it to his experiences in Nazi concentration camps. He distinguishes logotherapy from Freud's pleasure principle or Adler's will to power, which respectively argue that pleasure and superiority are the main drivers behind human behavior. Frankl points out that people are often willing to die for their beliefs or that they suffer if their ability to live by them is compromised. He also cites a French public-opinion poll in which 89 percent of those surveyed agreed that people need something or someone to give their lives meaning in order to be satisfied. Therefore, Frankl believes logotherapy is a fuller way of understanding how to help people than a system like Freudian psychoanalysis, which tends to present human beings as only concerned with "the mere gratification and satisfaction of drives and instincts."

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 24, 2021
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