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191 of 197 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars deneurotization of humanity
Frankl's logotherapy enables people to once again discover the quality of life. Frankl believes that the first two schools of Viennese psychotherapy (Freud and Adler), which he calls the depth psychology, must be complimented the logotherapy - the height psychology. His therapy explores man's future instead of his past. Summarizing the Freudian concept as the will to...
Published on May 11, 2001 by groovylew

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.
This is the 3rd of Frankl's books I've bought and read. There is a huge hole in the centre of all three. 'Man's Search for Meaning' so enthralled me that I immediately wanted to know how a Logotherapist would go about helping a patient discover meaning in his life. So I bought 'The Will To Meaning' and read it. It is largely just an expanded version of the 2nd half of...
Published 7 months ago by Elephantschild


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191 of 197 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars deneurotization of humanity, May 11, 2001
By 
This review is from: The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy, Revised and Expanded (Paperback)
Frankl's logotherapy enables people to once again discover the quality of life. Frankl believes that the first two schools of Viennese psychotherapy (Freud and Adler), which he calls the depth psychology, must be complimented the logotherapy - the height psychology. His therapy explores man's future instead of his past. Summarizing the Freudian concept as the will to pleasure and the Adlerian concept as the will to power, Frankl points out that man's basic motivation in life is neither pleasure nor power. Each person lives to discover the meaning of life and thereby to fulfill it - the will to meaning. Life is too meaningful for man to comprehend: it is essentially incomprehensible because it lies on a higher realm than that of man's. During the World War 2, Frankl survived four concentration camps including Auschwitz. In the camps, most of the inmates despaired that if they did not survive the camp, there was no meaning in suffering. Frankl, on the other hand, believed that if there was no meaning in suffering, there was no point in surviving the camp. In other words, the meaning of life was either unconditional regardless of the situation one was facing, or it was none at all. In the camps, Frankl would console his inmates telling them, "Someone looks down on each of us in difficult hours ?a friend, a wife, somebody alive or dead ?and he would not expect us to disappoint him. He would hope to find us suffering proudly ?not miserably ?knowing how to die.? He would explain to them that it was not them asking the meaning of life. It was life asking them the meaning, and they had to answer to it. What Frankl witnessed in the camps contradicted Freud's theory that if people were left without food for few days, their wants would be reduced to the common desire for food. While some inmates behaved according to their instincts, as Freud predicted, there were also others who lived up to this challenge. Frankl witnessed people who gave away their last piece of bread and others who organized religious activities, which resulted in execution if they were caught. One of logotherapy's techniques to help people discover values is to have them imagine their lives from their deathbeds and look back on them. During such exercises people often find that their current definition of success differs significantly from that on their deathbeds. They realize that they do not wish they had made more money, had more sex. It is interesting to note that virtually everyone points to relationship as their most cherished value. They wish that they had spent more time with people they care about. Logotherapy bases its therapy on the fact that man is a self-transcendent being. Psychotherapy which views man as a self-contained being is bound to fail. Frankl's favourite analogy regarding this matter is the eye. The function of the eye is to transcend itself: healthy eye does not see itself. The more it self-transcends, the more it actualizes itself. Only when there is a problem, such as glaucoma, does it notice itself. Man actualizes himself in the same way. Self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendent. Man is most human when he is occupied with something other than himself - when he is serving others?needs. The best time to take a picture of man is when he is least conscious of himself. How unnatural the picture looks when he is told to say cheese, to notice himself. Man neither lives by himself nor for himself. Man who views himself as a self-contained being is bound to live in despair. If he were to weigh the suffering and joy in life, he will find that the suffering outweighs by far. Every approach to suicide prevention needs to be grounded on the irreducibility of the unique human phenomenons and the self-transcendent nature of man. Only then can he find the meaning in suffering and thereby meet the challenge. He then realizes that life expects something from him in every situation. This "mere?realization in itself may even put an end to suicidal thoughts. Painting green the leaves of a dying tree lasts only so long, while watering its roots naturally turns them green. Frankl warns us of the serious consequences of reductionism. And his logotherapy thoroughly deestablishes the reductionism in psychotherapy and reinstitutes the human realm in psychotherapy. Logotherapy has a significant contribution to make in our world where more and more people are seeking psychotherapy to address this human realm. Logotherapy, then, is a psychotherapy for the man in the street ?all of us.
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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the most important principles in my life, May 9, 2005
By 
puritanfan (Princeton, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy, Revised and Expanded (Paperback)
Some of the most important principles in my life can be found in Dr. Viktor Frankl's The Doctor and the Soul. Without them, I along with my efforts to do good in the world would be lost in cynicism and depression. The book is an answer to Ecclesiastes' refrain, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." The book is an answer of hope.

I have pitied certain people to the point of questioning how they could endure life. I think of the boy whose alcoholic father had poured gasoline over him while he was sleeping. His face and over 90% of his body had been burned and melted. He no longer has ears, lips, or a nose. This nine year old boy has 50 or 60 more years to live among us.

In this depressing context, Dr. Frankl's mission in life was to help others realize meaning in their lives no matter their condition. The fundamental premise behind Frankl's life work is that "whoever has a reason for living endures almost any mode of life - Nietzche" (p.54). One scene from Frankl's autobiography, Man's Search for Meaning, encapsulates this thought well.

One night when his fellow prisoners of a concentration camp had received word that they would all be gassed the next day, the people looked to the Viennese psychiatrist for solace. He in turn was able to help each person discover personal reasons to endure which carried them through that dark night with hope and dignity. For example, Frankl helped one person overcome despair by reaffirming the man's fleeting hope that his suffering and death would somehow mean that his wife and family would be saved from such a fate. Instead of perceiving his situation as mere waste and tragedy, this man was enabled to convert his inescapable plight into a noble, heroic deed.

To be human, says Frankl, is to be conscious of one's responsibility no matter the situation. What makes human existence always meaningful, even in a concentration camp or in a severely wrecked body from an accident, is at every moment in a person's life he or she is being asked to fulfill a task. "It is life itself that asks questions of man. It is not up to man to question; rather, he should recognize that he is questioned, questioned by life." (p. 62)

Frankl emphasizes two primary and related guides for hearing the questions that life puts to us: conscience and regret. Frankl offers the leading maxim, "Live as you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now" (p.64). Frankl goes on, "Once an individual really puts himself into this imagined situation, he will instantaneously become conscious of the full gravity of the responsibility that every man bears throughout every moment of his life: the responsibility for what he will make of the next hour, for how he will shape the next day." (p.64-5)

But isn't there some who simply cannot respond favorably to life's questions due to great catastrophe or suffering like the boy who was burned? This is where the implications of Frankl's thought reach their peak, and from such extreme heights we see that no one with far lesser struggles can have valid excuses. Even the inability to create something valuable or to experience beauty, the usual means of obtaining meaning in life, does not condemn a person to a tragically meaningless existence. One thing (the most important thing, according to Frankl) is always still left in tact, that is, the capacity to answer with attitudinal values. How one bears one's cross can give meaning to life. Frankl offers one particularly poignant example (the book is filled with dozens of real life cases to prove his points).

"A young man lay in the hospital, suffering from an inoperable spinal tumor. Paralysis had handicapped his ability to work. There was for him therefore no longer any chance to realize creative values. But even in this state the realm of experiential values remained open to him. He devoted himself to reading good books, and especially to listening to good music on the radio. One day, however, he could no longer bear the pressure of the earphones, and his hands had become so paralyzed that he could no longer hold a book. He was forced to make the further retreat to attitudinal values. He now set himself the role of adviser to his fellow sufferers, and in every way strove to be an exemplar to them. He bore his own suffering bravely. The day before his death - which he foresaw - he knew that the doctor on duty had been ordered to give him an injection of morphine at night. What did the sick man do? When the doctor came to see him on his afternoon round, the patient asked him to give him the injection in the evening - so that the doctor would not have to interrupt his night's rest just on his account." (p.46)

In the same vain, Dostoevsky said that he only feared one thing: that he might not be worthy of his torment (p.114). Goethe said, "There is no predicament that we cannot ennoble either by doing or enduring" (p. 112). Thus a person faced with great suffering must not ask in futility and despair, "Why me?" or "Why God?", but rather must understand that life itself, God Himself, has given him a task, has put the question to him, "Why you?". The sufferer is expected to discover the reason for his current plight. God cannot take the sufferer's test for him or her.

For one that may be to encourage other patients through one's own brave suffering. Frankl tells the case of an 18 year old girl who was shot in a robbery and can only accomplish tasks by use of a mouthstick. "She feels the purpose of her life is quite clear. She watches the newspapers and television for stories of people in trouble and writes to them (typing with her mouthstick) to give them words of comfort and encouragement" (p. 300). For another the task of dying naked on a tree may be to demonstrate God's love for sinners.

Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that looking into the mouth of the abyss of possibilities in how to answer life's questions can by itself be paralyzing. Thus Frankl rejects the general question "What is the meaning of life?" as a meaningless question. "It reminds us of the question a reporter asked a grand master in chess. 'And now tell me, maestro - what is the best move in chess?' Neither question can be answered in a general fashion, but only in regard to a particular situation and person" (p.61). Otherwise we "would be tormented by eternal doubts and endless self-criticism, and would at best overstep the time limit and forfeit the game."

Thus what one decides is not as significant as that one decides to respond to a given situation. Indecision - to sulk in a wheelchair in the face of "no good choices" - is to overstep one's time limit and forfeit the game. At the other extreme, to commit suicide is to simply sweep the pieces off the chess board; it is forsaking the value of moving a piece regardless of how it may or may not affect the outcome of the game. For meaning derives from the opportunity and decision to make a move, and not from society's conception of winning.

There are so many practical, applicable at this very minute insights in Frankl's book. His chapter on the meaning of love by itself is worth the price of the book. His chapter on the meaning of work, how "our task is not our calling" (p. 124), equips one with a healthy perspective for the twists and turns in the real world. For example, Frankl relates:

"Several years ago a garbage collector received the order of merit from the German government. This man did his job to everyone's satisfaction, but the special effort that gained him the award was this: He looks in the garbage cans for discarded toys, spends his evening hours repairing them, and gives them to poor children as presents. He adds magnificent meaning to his clean-up job." (p.298)

Frankl's other chapters on dealing with anxiety and obsessive behavior are priceless. For instance, if you are afraid of public speaking, you can apply Frankl's ingenius method of paradoxical intention. That is, wish your fear. The moment you feel nervous and anxious, and your fear of sounding like a fool begins to rise, at that moment, think to yourself, "I'm going to try and make my voice quiver. I want to appear as the most nervous, incomprehensible person these people have ever heard." And as you're thinking this to yourself, actually try and intend to make this true. Instead of trying to suppress or resist your fears, wish, intend, make it your ambition to realize your worst fears the moment they begin to arise. And then, paradoxically, you'll discover great relief from your fears.
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139 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shining light in the darkness of the moral relativsm., April 3, 1999
By 
This review is from: The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy, Revised and Expanded (Paperback)
Adler thought all human motivation was based on the will to power, manifesting itself in men's desires to get rich and to exercise dominion and women's desire to marry such men. Freud thought all human motivation was based on the will to sex, that is to say the will to procreate the manifestations of which we see in our sex obsessed society. Frankl shows that the misplacement of these desires in the center of human life causes all of the psychological turmoil under which our society suffers. He shows that by putting (dare I say) God, and the purpose for which He created each individual at the center of human existence (the will to meaning), love (misunderstood as the will to sex) and creativity (misunderstood as the will to power)are put into a proper perspective. Frankl's treatise makes the insights of Adler and Freud useful to the religious individual who consider either of these great psychologists secular humanist riff-raff. More over it renders the endless the tangled web weaved by psychoanalysis unnecessary as it shows how understanding oneself as a purposeful being one can alleviate all the binding ties of compulsion, addiction, and irrational fear. INCREDIBLE.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very powerful and compelling, March 21, 2012
By 
William (Lakewood, CO, United States) - See all my reviews
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Most people only look into this book after they have read Man's search for meaning (also written by Victor Frankl). This is the manuscript of the book Victor Frankl had written before entering Auschwitz which he was forced to discard with. This is the reconstructed manuscript. It is a beautiful book but the translation is not nearly as fluent as Man's Search for Meaning and it can be difficult reading in parts. I have included my notes on this book below so that you can get a sense of this book. I loved it and I would highly recommend it, these are my notes from the book and most of it is verbatim:

Man's innate desire is to give as much value as possible to his life; to actualize as much meaning as possible. Therein he is faced with an interesting problem: what are the possibilities for giving life meaning; for realizing values? There are several answers. Men can give meaning to their lives by what I call creative values; by achieving tasks. But they can also give meaning to their lives by realizing experiential values, by experiencing goodness, the truth, beauty, or by knowing one single human being in all his uniqueness. And to experience one human being as unique is to love him.

But even a man who finds himself in the greatest of distress, in which neither activity nor creativity can bring values to life nor experience give meaning to it- even such a man can still give him life a meaning by the way he faces his fate; his distress. Even a man who finds himself in the greatest distress, in which neither activity nor experience give meaning to his life- even such a man can still give his life meaning by the manner in which he faces his fate. By taking his suffering upon himself in a dignified manner, he may yet realize values.

In fact, times of adversity are exactly when life offers its greatest opportunities for realization of values. The way a man bears his cross, and the degree to which he is able to transcend his suffering, the way he contends with destiny, and the compassion and dignity he displays in the face of pressure is often the measure of his humanity.

Men must come to see that the meaning of their lives depends to a large extent on the inward aspects of the human experience. I have said that man should not ask what he may expect from life, but should rather understand that life expects something from him. Hence man should not ask as to the meaning of life but should realize that it is he who is on trial. Life, by its transitions poses its problems to him, and it is up to man to face and transcend those problems by shouldering his responsibility; thus answering for his life.

Psychology in the traditional sense is a tendency towards devaluation. Its efforts to evaluate the development of the mind is limited to that of retrospect, where in order to meet the mind at its highest level, what is needed is a delving introspect.

Everywhere, psychologism sees nothing but masks and instincts and ascribes neurotic motives which it insists lie behind the masks and the instincts and purports that our past and other people are to blame for our present unhappiness. The subject of study for most psychologists seems to be not man, but a caricature of man.

The aim of psychotherapy should not be to derail man but to bring out the ultimate possibilities of man. Only then shall we be in a position to help the suffering person achieve his own personal reality. Not every mental dilemma is a product of a mental condition and effective psychotherapy must go beyond mere diagnosis, and encompasses the realm of fulfillment.

A science teacher was once explaining that the life of organisms, and therein of man also, and explained that life was in the final analysis nothing but a process of oxidation and combustion. One of his students then asked him "If this is so, then what kind of meaning does life have?" The truth is that man exists on a different plane of being than say, a candle. The candle's being may be interpreted as a process of combustion, but man possesses a completely different form of being. The reality of man's life is incomprehensible were one to attempt to desert the original human plane of being. Being human is a form of existence and not merely presence.

One can, for example, at a party, take a leave of absence from one's responsibilities in life and consciously seek self forgetfulness in intoxication. In such deliberate and artificially induced escape from responsibility and abandonment of the human plane, a man may from time to time relieve the pressures of his conscious. But ultimately man is permanently subject to the dictate of values which he must constantly realize through creation, experience, and attitude.

We cannot begin to question the purpose of the universe nor the meaning of life. Meaning of the whole is incomprehensible to man just as a domestic animal can scarcely reach out to understand the world of man. Likewise, man can scarcely reach out to understand the overworld which holds him in its grasp. The purpose of the universe is transcendent to the mind of man to the extent that it is always external to the beings it possesses. We can therefore never grasp the purpose of the universe or the meaning of life within the bounds of our own conceptual thinking. What we can begin to understand is the purpose and meaning of human life as unique to each person.

It is life that questions each man as to its meaning- it is not the individual who poses the question as regarding the meaning of life, but rather the individual who answers the question as to life's meaning. This understanding eliminates futile questioning and substitutes instead concern for the concrete problems posed by life.

To reshape life is of one magnitude, to fulfill life is of another magnitude. Destiny therefore has a twofold meaning: it is to be shaped where possible, to be endured where necessary. Either as it may be, every situation in life holds the opportunity for actualization of values.

Lasting happiness can only be found in the discovery of meaning in life. Kiekegaard expressed this in the maxim that the door to happiness opens outward. Anyone who tries to pull this door open finds that it will not yield. The man who is so desperately anxious to be happy that he forgets inner fulfillment and concentrates only on external factors cuts off his own path to happiness.

The meaning of human existence can often be measured by the intensity of the experience. Imagine for example a music lover sitting in concert hall while the most profound measures of his favorite symphony resound in his ears. He feels that shiver of emotion which we experience in the presence of the purest beauty. Suppose now that at such a moment we should ask him whether his life has meaning. He would have to reply that it had been worth while living if only to experience this ecstatic moment. Thus, here it is demonstrated that even though only a single moment is in question- the greatness of a life can be measured by the greatness of a moment. The height of a mountain range is not given by its range, but by that of the tallest peak. In life too, the peaks decide the meaningfulness of life, and a single moment can retroactively flood an entire life with meaning.

Love is more than an emotional condition, it is an act of unconquerable alignment of the heart, mind, and the soul. What love recognizes is the essence of the other person as a reflection and symbol of our values. Infatuation makes us blind; real love enables us to see.

Love allows us to experience another's personality as a world in itself and in doing so extends our own world. This is precisely why love can outlast the death of the beloved and in this sense we come to understand the truth that love is stronger than death itself. The existence of the beloved may be annihilated by death, but his essence cannot be touched by death. His unique being is timeless and thus imperishable. The idea of a person, which is what the lover sees, belongs to a realm beyond time.

The survival of personality after death of the body is perhaps best illustrated in the fact that even during the person's lifetime; we apprehend far more of the person than the few scraps of data their physical presence gives us. This little bit is all we miss after death. When that is gone, it is far from the truth to say that the person no longer exists. The most we can say is that he no longer manifests himself.

Love is in fact so little directed toward the body of the beloved that it can easily outlast his death, and it can continue to exist in the lover's heart until his own death. The true lover can never really grasp the death of the loved one any more than he can grasp his own death.

The act of looking at something does not create that thing; neither does the act of looking away annihilate it. The suppression of an impulse of grief does not annul the thing that is grieved over.

But love is only one of the possible ways to fill life with meaning, and not even necessarily the best way. Life is infinitely rich in its chances to realize values. If life is anything; it is only the opportunity for something.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The brilliant Dr. Frankl, January 23, 2007
By 
Brynne (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy, Revised and Expanded (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book that describes the existentialist process and

thoughts of a brilliant man. It is a very different school of thought

than more recent schools of thought such as cognitive-behavioral psychology. Dr. Frankl discusses meaning of life, suffering, and how one

choose one's attitude toward suffering to alleviate it. Of course, who

could be a more experienced speaker of this message than Dr. Frankl who endured being in a concentration camp during World War II and was able to survive

it through his choices of attitude towards his suffering. Dr. Frankl is

clearly an existentialist who sees choice and personal responsibility as

the center of the soul.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book I always keep handy, January 20, 2012
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This review is from: The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy, Revised and Expanded (Paperback)
This is a book I always keep handy for overcoming difficult times. I don't understand why this book has so few reviews. It helps me, within minutes of reading, to regain a positive perspective, no matter what tribulations I come face to face with. This is a book I will be buying copies of the give to friends. If I could give it more stars I would.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Embracing the Model of Virtually Limitless Human Potential, January 13, 2009
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This review is from: The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy, Revised and Expanded (Paperback)
Many laypersons' eyes glaze over when confronted with terms such as Logotherapy, existentialism and the like. I urge them to dig into this text and they will find it rich with practical ideas and marvelous insights. The many excellent reviews about this book adequately summarize much of its contents. However, one must realize that Dr. Frankl's writings were largely philosophical. In fact, when a scientist writes about science, he or she is doing philosophy, not science. Frankl's perspective of man is vastly different from a materialistic scientists perspective. He sees man as responsible for the quality of his inner life, not totally malleable in the Freudian or Behaviorist point of view. This is critically important. And Frankl tells us why: "We can only be responsible to an entity higher than ourselves ... If we present man with a concept of man that is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present man as an automaton of reflexes, a mind-machine, a bundle of instincts, a pawn of drives and reactions, a mere product of heredity, and environment, we feed the nihilism to which, in any case, man is prone.

"I became acquainted with the last stage of that corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but a product of heredity and environment--or, as the Nazi liked to say, "Blood and Soil." I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers." A geyser of wisdom from a great mind that transcended the logic-tight barriers between disciplines, much in the spirit of his American contemporary, Abraham Maslow.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars review, March 18, 2009
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This review is from: The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy, Revised and Expanded (Paperback)
A slow read, but thought provoking. Every doctor is faced with the patient that faces the existential crisis. This book provides guidance for both the physician's meaning and the patient's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for every library., August 9, 2013
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This is timeless material that could serve as an encouragement for those in times of struggle or uncertainty. It is not a book to be rushed through. Content must be digested slowly and revisited where necessary. I would recommend for those in crisis or facing unplanned challenges.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing., December 9, 2013
This review is from: The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy, Revised and Expanded (Paperback)
This is the 3rd of Frankl's books I've bought and read. There is a huge hole in the centre of all three. 'Man's Search for Meaning' so enthralled me that I immediately wanted to know how a Logotherapist would go about helping a patient discover meaning in his life. So I bought 'The Will To Meaning' and read it. It is largely just an expanded version of the 2nd half of 'Man's Search For Meaning' : more words, same content. So I bought 'The Doctor and the Soul'.
I have two problems with this book. The first is that Frankl's philosophy is full of holes. He passes with breath-taking ease from the obvious statement that man's perception of objects is related to that which is external to ourselves, to the totally bizarre statement that our perception of values is related to the existence of 'values' somehow external to ourselves. He claims that 'life' 'questions us' and 'demands answers'. He posits that 'responsibility' is the defining characteristic of human-ness, then says that it is up to each of us to decide who/what we are responsible to and for what. So, zero out of 10 for philosophical persuasion.
Secondly, more importantly for my immediate concerns, while he provides multiple case histories and examples for his secondary, ancillary, therapeutic techniques of 'paradoxical intention' and 'de-reflection', for his central proposition, that of helping people find meaning in their lives, he provides no methodology, no case histories, no examples, nothing. He has two opposing theoretical positions : (1) that our values, represented by our conscience, should interact with our sense of responsibility to provide a meaningful course of action for us in any of life's situations, and that it doesn't matter what type of work we do as long as we find meaning in our way of doing it (2) each of us have a unique life's task to accomplish. He gives no indication, beyond a couple of sleight-of-hand anecdotes repeated from one book to the next, of how a logotherapist would help a client find his/her way in either of those (contradictory) endeavours. So, zero out of 10 for helpfulness.
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