What Is Logotherapy?

From Verywell Mind:

Logotherapy is a therapeutic approach that helps people find personal meaning in life. It’s a form of psychotherapy that is focused on the future and on our ability to endure hardship and suffering through a search for purpose.

Psychiatrist and psychotherapist Viktor Frankl developed logotherapy after surviving Nazi concentration camps in the 1940s. His experience and theories are detailed in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

Frankl believed that humans are motivated by something called a “will to meaning,” which is the desire to find meaning in life. He argued that life can have meaning even in the most miserable of circumstances and that the motivation for living comes from finding that meaning.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Victor Frankl, MD, PHD

This opinion was based on his experiences in the concentration camps and his intent to find meaning through his suffering. In this way, Frankl believed that when we can no longer change a situation, we are forced to change ourselves.

. . . .


Frankl believed that it was possible to turn suffering into achievement and accomplishment. He viewed guilt as an opportunity to change oneself for the better and life transitions as the chance to take responsible action.

In this way, logotherapy is aimed at helping you to make better use of your “spiritual” resources to withstand adversity. Three techniques intended to help with this process include dereflection, paradoxical intention, and Socratic dialogue.


Dereflection is aimed at helping you focus away from yourself and toward other people allowing you to become “whole” and to spend less time feeling preoccupied with a problem or worry. 

This technique is meant to combat “hyper-reflection,” or extreme focus on an anxiety-provoking situation or object. Hyper-reflection is often common in people with anticipatory anxiety.

Paradoxical Intention

Paradoxical intention is a technique that invites you to wish for the thing that you fear most. This was originally suggested for use in the case of anxiety or phobias, in which humor and ridicule can be used when fear is paralyzing. 

For example, if you have a fear of looking foolish, you might be encouraged to try to look foolish on purpose. Paradoxically, your fear would be removed when you set an intention to behave as foolishly as possible.

. . . .

Perhaps not surprisingly, there is evidence that meaning in life correlates with better mental health.

Link to the rest at Verywell Mind

PG posted this because he wasn’t certain what Logotherapy was. He had heard of Victor Frankl and some of his books, Man’s Search for Meaning being the most prominent.

The OP is on a website that appears to cover a wide variety of psychological topics and, evidently Logotherapy is one of those topics. The site’s Review Board consists mostly of Medical Doctors, including several psychiatrists. OP was reviewed by a psychiatrist.

PG also notes that the publication is owned by Dotdash Meredith, America’s largest publisher, at least where magazines are the measure. Several prior lives ago, PG dealt with Meredith when he was an account executive for a large advertising agency.

Meredith published and continues to publish a bunch of magazines focused on women. The company was and is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. People Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living are three representative magazines Meredith publishes and has always published. To the best of PG’s knowledge, Meredith is not prone to publish any dodgy or edgy magazines. Doing so is not the Iowa Way.

For those visitors outside of the United States, Des Moines is pretty close to the middle of the United States and it is a great distance from any ocean. Hurricanes and typhoons are not a threat.

One of the things Iowa is known for (in certain circles) is that the soil in the state is regarded as the most fertile and productive agricultural soil in the world. The area covered with this type of soil includes just about all of Iowa, extends into parts of Southern Illinois, Eastern Nebraska, a bit of Northern Missouri and parts of Southeastern South Dakota and Southwestern Wisconsin.

As an interesting sidelight, Ukraine is the only other place in the world where large amounts of this type of extraordinarily fertile soil are found.

PG realizes he has meandered more than usual with his commentary. Any commentary that begins with Logotherapy and ends with Iowa soil is certainly a potential candidate for formal classification as meandering, but PG hopes visitors to TPV will be tolerant. After all, nobody forced you to read the whole thing and it didn’t cost you anything.

4 thoughts on “What Is Logotherapy?”

    • Thank you, Alicia.

      I was born in Iowa and have lots of family roots there. I left when I was two years old, but have gone back to visit relatives on several occasions. I also lived in Minnesota for several years before I left for college.

      Although I haven’t lived in the Midwest for a very long time, I still have great appreciation for the people and places in that part of the country.

  1. That’s interesting, this post matches what I’ve stumbled across the past two weeks. What I’ve stumbled across is great for Story, especially my WIP, and explains so many aspects of society.

    In context with the article:

    Frankl believed that humans are motivated by something called a “will to meaning,” which is the desire to find meaning in life.

    Without that “Meaning in Life” humans can be destroyed, and even have society driven mad, as is happening now.

    In 2017 I started trying to understand a “Fictional” syndrome that Joel Shepherd wrote about in his “Cassandra Kresnov” series, the last three books starting with “23 Years on Fire”. He came up with the “Fictional” term called:

    – “Compulsive Narrative Syndrome(CNS)”.

    It’s a made up, SciFi term that actually describes what is happening. When I first googled the term years ago, nothing came up on the search. Now links are starting to show up.

    This is from the book:

    “The human brain is trained to look for and identify patterns, but in abstract concepts, fixed and unarguable facts are hard to find. So the brain looks for narratives instead, stories that can tie together various ideas and facts in a way that seems to make sense, to make a pattern. And the human brain, always seeking a pattern as a basic cognitive function, will latch onto a narrative pattern compulsively, and use that pattern as a framework within which to store new information, like a tradesman honing his skill, or someone learning a new language. That’s why religions tell such great stories, the story makes a pattern within which everything makes sense. A synchronicity of apparent facts. Political ideologies, too. Humans are suckers for a great story because we can’t resist the logical pattern it contains.”

    “When you’re learning a new skill, discarding irrelevant information and organizing the relevant stuff within that framework is good. But in ideologies, it means any information that doesn’t fit the ideological narrative is literally discarded, and won’t be remembered . . . which is why you can argue facts with ideologues and they’ll just ignore you. They’re not just being stubborn, their brains are literally structurally incapable of processing what they perceive as pattern-anomalous data. That’s why some ideologues get so upset when you offer facts that don’t match their pattern, it’s like you’re assaulting them.

    So what Compulsive Narrative Syndrome really says is that being a one-eyed partisan isn’t just a matter of taste or values, it’s actually a cognitive, neurological condition that we all suffer from to some degree. And it explains why some people’s ideologies can change, because sometimes a new pattern is identified that overrides the old one. And it explains why the most intelligent people are often the most partisan and least objective, because pattern recognition is a function of higher intelligence. If you want an objective opinion, ask a stupid person.”

    What’s interesting, is what was once a “Fictional” syndrome has finally been described.

    – Mass Formation

    Here is an interview with the author:

    Mattias Desmet about Mass Formation and modern society

    Here is the book:

    The Psychology of Totalitarianism by Mattias Desmet

    Once again, I find myself disturbingly so far ahead of the curve.

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