Viktor Frankl on The Search for Meaning
by Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl’s dedication to our collective struggle for freedom inspired his creation of Logotherapy, and in turn generations of therapists working to liberate their clients to lives of meaning.
In this lecture, Viktor Frankl reflects on mankind’s collective sense of futility, meaninglessness and emptiness. This existential vacuum, as he called it, leads to boredom — a loss of interest, and apathy — a loss of initiative, as well as to a myriad of psychological disorders. Attending solely to the compelling and presenting problems of depression, criminality and addiction, Frankl’s triad of mass neurosis, clinicians risk missing deeper underlying existential struggles.

By listening to Frankl, you will realize that our role as therapists is not to simply free our clients of imprisoning behaviors and symptoms, but to help them enhance their sense of freedom, responsibility, purpose and connection. And even with clients who have experienced part or all of the “tragic triad” of death, pain and guilt, you will more effectively help them extract and internalize a sense of meaning in their lives.
In Depth
For Viktor Frankl, suffering and tragedy were inevitable, but not so their transcendence to meaning. The ability to rise above suffering and the immediacy of personal need were the greatest challenges to being fully human and existing freely in the world. Appreciation of art, work, creativity, love and a will to live were attainable, but only through assiduous effort.

Frankl understood how the loss of purpose and a sense of future often derailed people into psychopathology, but this internal suffering could yield to a therapeutic process favoring purpose and dignity. While not encouraging therapists to abandon their therapeutic philosophy and techniques, he encouraged clinicians to teach their clients that each moment is irrepeatable and each person irreplaceable. In doing so, we can influence our own clients to live freely in the moment while thinking and acting beyond themselves.

Length of video: 1:25:07

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-581-5

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-581-6

Viktor Frankl, MD, was an Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist, best known for his 1946 “Man’s Search for Meaning,” an existential volume based upon his experiences as a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. His break from traditional psychoanalysis in favor of an existential/humanistic orientation led to the development of Logotherapy. Frankl, primarily a clinician, was also a prolific internationally recognized author, speaker and teacher who viewed freedom of will, will to meaning and meaning in life as psychological and spiritual cornerstones of being fully human. 
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