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The Logotherapy of Viktor Frankl: theory and techniques

The Logotherapy of Viktor Frankl: theory and techniques

May 21, 2022

The logotherapy was developed by Viktor Frankl , one of the main representatives of existential analysis. In these interventions, which aim to achieve vital meaning, existentialist philosophy had a great influence.

In this article we will describe the principles and basic techniques of speech therapy, as well as the types of neuroses that exist according to Viktor Frankl. Among them the most important is the nogenic neurosis, which was the focus of interest of this author.

  • Related article: "Viktor Frankl: biography of an existential psychologist"

The speech therapy of Viktor Frankl

Viktor Emil Frankl (1905-1997) was a neurologist and psychiatrist Austrian who was born in a Jewish family. In 1944 he, his wife, his parents and his brother were sent to concentration camps; When the war was over, Frankl was the only one who was still alive.


Frankl developed his theory and his psychological therapy from his experiences as a prisoner, although he had already begun to create them beforehand. In 1959 he published his key book, "Man in search of meaning", where he described his model: the logotherapy.

Logotherapy is part of the existential analysis , a type of therapy with a marked philosophical character that focuses on the search of vital meaning in the existential vacuum, causing psychological, emotional and physical symptoms. The influence of Kierkegaard, Heidegger and Husserl is notable in Frankl's work.

According to Frankl, people we can always give meaning to our lives , regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves; This search for meaning constitutes the main vital motivation. In addition we always have a certain degree of freedom, since we can decide at least what attitude we adopt in the face of adversity.


  • Related article: "Existential crisis: when we do not find meaning in our life"

Theory of the human being: suffering and meaning

Frankl considered that the human experience has three dimensions: somatic or physical, mental and spiritual. According to this author, the origin of the psychological alterations is the lack of strength of the spiritual dimension , as well as meaning in life.

He described three types of values ​​that led to meaning and, therefore, to happiness: values ​​of creation, related to work and contribution to society, those of experience (interaction with people and experience of sensations) and attitudes , which have to do with overcoming suffering.

For Frankl The cause of mental disorders is the meaning we give to suffering , and not the discomfort in itself. This basic approach was opposed to the reductionism of behaviorism of the time and anticipated cognitivist approaches.


Types of neurosis according to Frankl

Frankl described various types of neurosis depending on the causes that provoke them. Among them, the noogenic neurosis stands out, a focus of interest in speech therapy.

1. Noogenic

The logotherapy is specific for the noogenic neurosis , which arises as a consequence of the existential vacuum, of the non-satisfaction of the human spiritual dimension. When a person fails to give meaning to their suffering, they feel hopelessness and a sense of loss of vital meaning; Frankl calls this situation nonogenous neurosis.

2. Collective

Neuroses of this type affect a large number of people who share the same culture and / or were born at a certain time. He defined four attitudes as collective neuroses: fatalism (believing that everything has external causes), fanaticism (idealizing one's beliefs and not tolerating the rest), lack of attention to the future and conformity or "collectivist thought".

  • Perhaps you are interested: "Meditation as a remedy against fanaticism"

3. Sunday

Many people try to make sense of their lives through work and the frenetic pace of the week. When the weekend, holidays or retirement arrive and there is free time, they appear feelings of apathy, boredom and existential emptiness ; In Frankl's theory this is known as Sunday neurosis and is considered a type of depression.

  • Related article: "Emotional vacuum: when we lack something that we can not explain"

4. Unemployment

The neurosis of unemployment is similar to that of Sunday, but it lasts longer. When a person has no occupation or work tends to experience a state of apathy and feelings of worthlessness for lack of vital goals.

5. Psychogenic, reactive, somatogenic and psychosomatic

This classification refers to the factors that cause the alteration. Psychogenic neuroses have psychological causes, such as attitudes, while reactive ones are due to an intense response of the organism to the presence of somatic or psychological symptoms.

The somatogenic neuroses they are due to biological dysfunctions , such as hyperthyroidism or excessive reactivity of the nervous system. Finally, Frankl called "psychosomatic neuroses" physical symptoms triggered by psychological factors; in this category included asthma.

Logotherapy techniques

The goal of speech therapy is to help the client give meaning to his life. For this, according to Frankl, the therapist must use the following techniques.

1. Socratic dialogue

The Socratic dialogues consist of challenging the client's interpretations of different events (ie, their belief system) through questions based on logic. The Socratic dialogue was adopted by cognitively oriented psychotherapists , as Aaron Beck, and constitutes one of the fundamental pillars of cognitive restructuring.

2. De-reflection

Some people lend a excessive attention to your goals or your problems , which generates anxiety and interferes with life; Frankl called the first case "hyperintention" and the second as "hyperreflection." The technique of de-reflection consists of redirecting this attention in an adequate and functional way.

3. Confrontation

Confrontation is a basic technique of psychotherapy in general. Is about make the client see inconsistencies and the inadequacy of certain behaviors and attitudes so that you can be aware of them and modify them.

4. Paradoxical intention

Frankl called "paradoxical intention" a technique consisting of making the client intensify his symptoms in new contexts, promoting that the symptom loses its functionality . In other words, it is intended that the client intentionally provokes what he fears, so that a logical, often humorous, contradiction is generated.

At present the paradoxical intention is considered an effective technique to handle different problems, for example insomnia of conciliation. It works because, when the person happens to want an event that normally causes anxiety or other negative emotions to occur, such associated consequences do not occur.


Viktor Frankl: Logotherapy and Man's Search for Meaning (May 2022).


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