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The Leaning to Meaning: a Study of Frankls Mans Search for Meaning - Essay Example

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Man have long questioned the essence of his existence. The search for meaning seems boundless and daunting in the sense that people don't know where to begin and where to end in this valiant search for the existential truth. Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) is an Austrian psychiatrist who developed a form of existential psychotherapy known as "logotherapy"…
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The Leaning to Meaning: a Study of Frankls Mans Search for Meaning
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Download file to see previous pages In his best-known book, Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy (1962; translated into English, 1997), Frankl described how he and other prisoners in the concentration camps found meaning in their lives and summoned the will to survive. The remainder of the book outlines the theory and practice of logotherapy. In addition to its influence on the field of psychotherapy, Man's Search for Meaning (1997) found an enormous readership among the general public. By the time of Frankl's death, it had sold more than 10 million copies in 24 languages. Frankl published 31 other books on his psychological theories. It points out some pathological phenomena that result from the frustration of the quest for meaning and describes principles of logotherapy to deal with them (Microsoft Encarta 2005).
People characterize some of their experiences as meaningful and others as absurd or meaningless. Some people experience their entire lives as full of meaning, whereas others see theirs as futile and pointless. What makes an experience meaningful What makes it seem meaningless What gives meaning to a whole life These questions have always intrigued thoughtful people as well as professional philosophers, poets, creative writers, and some psychologists. They have acquired a special significance today because many clients seeking professional help suffer from a sense of emptiness, meaninglessness, and alienation--a condition that has been called existential neurosis (Maddi, 1970). In addition to existential neurosis, a feeling of emptiness, meaninglessness, and boredom are prominent features of a number of other psychiatric syndromes from depression to dissociative disorders (Levin, 1987).
Meanings and values also play a significant role in defining one's sense of self and identity (Baumeister, 1991). Lack of meaning and value may result in an amorphous or a fragile sense of self as is often found in borderline personality disorders. On the other hand, surplus meaning and an excess of value placed on the self may strain its resources to the limits and lead to various forms of escape behaviors.
Frankl recognized that human beings are subject to a wide variety of limiting conditions and influences--biological, psychological, and sociocultural--however, he did not believe that these limiting conditions and influences totally determine an individual's response to his or her life situation. No matter what these conditions are, an individual can take a stand against them. He cited their own experience in Nazi concentration camps as evidence of man's capacity to rise above the most adverse circumstances.
According to Frankl (1969), he and his fellow campmates thought as human beings, they have the capacity to resist not only external circumstances but also our own physical and psychological drives. In doing so, they essentially opened up a new dimension of existence, namely, the dimension of meaning. One enters this dimension whenever one is reflecting upon oneself, when they were exactly held as prisoners in the concentration camps. Frankl regarded the will to meaning as an authentic and genuine human phenomenon and not as a neurotic symptom of unconscious conflicts. Rather than dismiss the will to meaning as a neurotic phenomenon, Frankl used it as an important psychotherapeutic principle. In ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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