Essay Sample on Historical Perspective of Logotherapy Theory

Published: 2023-01-17
Essay Sample on Historical Perspective of Logotherapy Theory
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  World War 2 Psychology Concentration camps Personal experience
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1327 words
12 min read

In the book "Man's Search for Meaning" Frankl provides his personal experience as an inmate during the Holocaust. His book illustrates how the horrible world in the concentration camps changed the inmates and made them adapt to the environment. From the book, it is clear that the exposure to the severe situations at the camp that comprised of constant cruelty made the inmates stop caring about each other in such a way that they were ignorant of the consequences of their actions on the other people as they focused on surviving the camp. The article also provides Frankl's quest for meaning while at the camp and the psychological deductions he made from himself as well as the other inmates at the camp. These deductions led to the development of Logotherapy theory, which focuses on a patient's will to find the meaning of their life. While at the camp, the deductions helped Frankl to come up with three values that enabled him to develop the logotherapy theory. These experiences include creative, experiential, and attitudinal values. Therefore, to understand the historical perspective of logotherapy theory, it is imperative to study the conditions that created the innovative, experiential, and attitudinal values that Frankl learned, which contributed to the development of logotherapy theory.

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Logotherapy focuses on the future aspects of a patient's life by focusing on the meaning the patient intends to fulfill, therefore becoming less retrospective and more introspective. Frankl however, does not attribute the search for meaning to religion or any form of spirituality but to tasks that help one find meaning in their life. "Logotherapy is composed of three basic principles. The first basic principle is that life has meaning in all circumstances, even sad ones. The second principle is that the main motivational force is the desire to find meaning in life. Lastly, the third basic principle states that humanity has the freedom of attitudinal choice, even in situations of unchangeable affliction" (Devoe 4). Similarly, Ameli and Dattilio explained that "through logotherapy, we can discover meaning in life in three different ways; through creative values, experiential values, and attitudinal values. The creative value consists of what we give to the world, such as accomplishing a task, creating work, or doing a good deed. The experiential value is what we take from the world, such as the experience of truth, beauty, and love toward another human being. The attitudinal value reflects the stand that we choose to take toward unchangeable situations or unavoidable suffering" (387).

The creative values used in logotherapy can be traced back to Frankl's experience at the camp. Frankl uses the Capos who were prisoners that acted as trustees, who despised the common prisoners despite them being prisoners themselves. Frankl noted that "in fact, many of the Capos fared better in the camp than they had in their entire lives. Often they were harder on the prisoners than the guards and beat them more cruelly than the SS men did. These Capos, of course, were chosen only from those prisoners whose characters promised to make them suitable for such procedures, and if they did not comply with what was expected of them, they were immediately demoted. They soon became much like the SS men and the camp wardens and may be judged on a similar psychological basis." (01). This explanation identifies the Capos as heartless men who were cruel to their fellow prisoners. However, Frankl identifies that there was a cabaret that was established from a hut that was cleared temporarily and wooden benches placed in the shelter. A program was then drawn up for the people who had fairly good positions in the camp to entertain themselves. Some of these people included the Capos and other workers who did not have to leave camp. These people came to laugh and forget their grim conditions (Frankl, 16). This creative value in the form of poems and songs helped the people within the camp to temporarily forget their horrible conditions and be happy even if it was for a few hours of the night. Some inmates found meaning in those few hours of entertainment to the point that they were willing to miss their portion of food to attend those programs.

The experiential value in logotherapy was developed from Frankl's desire to be away from the crowd. According to Frankl "The men were herded-sometimes to one place then to another; sometimes driven together, then apart-like a flock of sheep without a thought or a will of their own." (20). Even though traveling in the middle of the crowd helped to avoid blows and bitter winds, it was most useful as it helped the inmates avoid the attention of the SS. Frankl sometimes desired to be away from the crowd and be alone with his thoughts. For Frankl, his solitude allowed him to dream about the things he truly desired despite the situations he was facing at the time. In logotherapy, solitude may be essential as it helps the patients to analyze themselves to identify what truly gave meaning to their lives. In Frankl's case, the purpose of his life was his home with his wife.

The attitudinal value was derived from the various attitudes that Frankl observed from the other inmates. Some of these attitudes include the loss of feelings of the inmates as well as guards and simple practices such as smoking a cigarette. Frankl pointed out that "the privilege of actually smoking cigarettes was reserved for the Capo, who had his assured quota of weekly coupons; or possibly for a prisoner who worked as a foreman in a warehouse or workshop and received a few cigarettes in exchange for doing dangerous jobs. The only exceptions to this were those who had lost the will to live and wanted to "enjoy" their last days. Thus, when we saw a comrade smoking his cigarettes, we knew he had given up faith in his strength to carry on, and, once lost, the will to live seldom returned" (03). He further pointed out that those who had given up on the will to live would smoke their cigarette since their meaning of life had shifted from surviving to seeking immediate pleasure before their life ended (Frankl 55). Their negative attitude towards life resulted in seeking temporary pleasures which did not increase their chances of survival at the camp. Thus, the development of logotherapy theory sustained that the meaning of life is negatively associated with drug abuse practices such as smoking cigarettes. Frankl also points out that attitudinal value extends to the feelings of guards and inmates while at the camp. Frankl explained that "the feelings of the majority of the guards had been dulled by the number of years in which, in ever-increasing doses, they had witnessed the brutal methods of the camp. These morally and mentally hardened men at least refused to take an active part in sadistic measures. But they did not prevent others from carrying them out" (34). Even though the guards had negative attitudes towards brutal violence, their feelings had been dulled down to the point that they were not moved enough by the violence to stop the violators. However, their hardened feelings prevented them from taking part in such activities.

In conclusion, it is clear that the experience at the concentration camp provided Frankl with sufficient information, which helped him to develop the three principles of the logotherapy theory. These principles further help to make the approach practical as they provide guidelines on how the patients can discover and add meaning and purpose to their lives by themselves. Also, this theory helps to guide the therapist and patient in the best way such that they can move forward from horrifying situations by giving the patient hope for a better future.

Works Cited

Ameli, Matti, and Frank M. Dattilio. "Enhancing cognitive behavior therapy with logotherapy: Techniques for clinical practice." Psychotherapy 50.3 (2013): 387.

Devoe, Daniel. "Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy: The Search For Purpose and Meaning." Inquiries Journal 4.07 (2012).

Frankl, Viktor E. Man's Search for Meaning. Beacon, P. 2014.

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