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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a "why" to live..., February 10, 2001
This review is from: Man's Search for Meaning (Hardcover)
An American doctor once asked Viktor Frankl to explain the difference between conventional psychoanalysis and logotherapy. Before answering, Frankl asked the doctor for his definition of psychoanalysis. The man said, "During psychoanalysis, the patient must lie down on a couch and tell you things which sometimes are very disagreeable to tell." Frankl immediately replied by saying: "Now, in logotherapy the patient may remain sitting erect but he must hear things which sometimes are very disagreeable to hear." By this he meant that in logotherapy the patient is actually confronted with and reoriented toward the MEANING of his life. The role of the therapist, then, is to help the patient discover a purposefulness in his life. Frankl's theory is that man's search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a "secondary rationalization" of instinctual drives. Whereas Freudian psychoanalysis focuses on the "will to pleasure" and Adlerian psychology focuses on the "will to power" it can be said that Frankl's logotherapy focuses on the "will to meaning." Does man give in to to conditions or stand up to them? According to Frankl, the strength of a person's sense of meaning, responsibility, and purpose is the greatest determining factor in how that question will be answered. He believed that "man is ultimately self-determining" and as such, "does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment."
The first (and largest) section of this book is the searing autobiographical account of the author's experience as a longtime prisoner in a concentration camp. These camps claimed the lives of his father, mother, brother, and wife. Frankl's survival and the subsequent miracle of this book are a testimony to man's capacity to rise above his outward fate. As Gordon W. Allport states in the preface, "A psychiatrist who personally has faced such extremity is a psychiatrist worth listening to."
I agree, and highly reccommend this book. As the sub-title says, it is an "introduction" to logotherapy, and anyone who wants to go deeper into the principles and practical application of Frankl's existential psychiatry should go to his excellent "The Doctor And The Soul".
Frankl was fond of quoting Nietzsche's dictum..."He who has a WHY to live can bear with almost any HOW."
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