Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy: theory and techniques

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 has had a great influence.

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

    Speech therapy by Viktor Frankl

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

    Frankl developed his theory and psychological therapy from his experiences as a prisoner, although he had already started to create them earlier. In 1959, he published his key book, “The man in search of meaning”, in which he described his model: logotherapy.

    Logotherapy is part of the existential analysis, A type of therapy with a marked philosophical character that focuses on the search for vital meaning in the face of existential emptiness, 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 still make sense of 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, because we can at least decide what attitude to adopt in the face of adversity.

      Theory of the human being: suffering and meaning

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

      He described three types of values ​​that lead to meaning and therefore to happiness: the values ​​of creation, linked to work and to the contribution to society, those of experience (interaction with people and experience of sensations) and those of attitude. , 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 itself. This basic approach is opposed to the reductionism of the behaviorism of the time and to the anticipated cognitivist approaches.

      Types of neurosis according to Frankl

      Frankl described several type of neurosis according to the causes that cause them. Among them, the noogenic neurosis stands out, the focus of logotherapy.

      1. Noogena

      Speech therapy is specific to noogenic neurosis, Which results from the existential vacuum, from the discontent of the human spiritual dimension. When a person fails to make sense of their suffering, they experience hopelessness and a sense of loss of vital meaning; Frankl says noogenic neurosis to this situation.

      2. Collective

      Neuroses of this type affect a large number of people who share the same culture and / or were born at some point. He defined four attitudes as collective neuroses: fatalism (believing that everything has external causes), sectarianism (idealizing one’s own beliefs and not tolerating the rest), lack of attention to the future and conformism or collective thinking. · Lectivist “.

        3. Sunday

        Many people try to make sense of their lives through work and the hectic pace of the week. When the weekend, vacation, or retirement comes and you have some free time, they show up feelings of apathy, boredom and existential emptiness; in Frankl’s theory, it will be considered Sunday neurosis and is considered a type of depression.

          4. Unemployment

          Unemployment neurosis is similar to Sunday’s, but lasts longer. When a person is unemployed or unemployed, they tend to experience a state of apathy and a feeling of worthlessness for lack of vital goals.

          5.psychogenic, reactive, somatogenic and psychosomatic

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

          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.

          Speech therapy techniques

          The purpose of speech therapy is to help the client make sense of their life. To do this, according to Frankl, the speech-language pathologist should use the following techniques.

          1. Socratic dialogue

          Socratic dialogues involve questioning the client’s interpretations of different events (i.e. their belief system) through questions based on logic. The Socratic dialogue was adopted by cognition-oriented psychotherapists, Like Aaron Beck, and is one of the cornerstones of cognitive restructuring.

          2. Reflection

          Some people borrow 1 p.m. excessive attention to their goals or problems, Which generates anxiety and interferes with life; Frankl called the first case “hyperintention” and the second “hyperreflexion”. The technique of disreflexión is to redirect this attention in an appropriate and functional way.

          3. Confrontation

          Confrontation is a basic technique of psychotherapy in general. This is show the client the inconsistencies and the insufficiency of certain behaviors and attitudes for you to be aware of and change them.

          4. Paradoxical intention

          Frankl said “paradoxical intention” to a technique of getting the client to intensify his symptoms in new settings, promote that the symptom loses its functionality. In other words, the client is expected to intentionally provoke what he fears, so that a logical, often humorous, contradiction is generated.

          At present, paradoxical intention is considered to be an effective technique for dealing with different problems, for example conciliating insomnia. It works because, when the person wants an event to happen that usually causes them anxiety or other negative emotions, those associated consequences do not happen.

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