Frankl tells the reader that the original version of this book did not include a discussion of logotherapy, but he has added one on because so many people have asked for it. His full explanation of logotherapy fills twenty volumes in German, so what he presents here is a much-condensed version of his ideas on therapy. He starts out by defining logotherapy in relation to psychoanalysis: it is “less retrospective and less introspective.”
Now the “memoir” half of the book ends, and Frankl expands on the logotherapy itself. He first must define his form of psychology in relation to Freud’s practice of psychoanalysis, as Freud’s beliefs were hugely dominant at the time. According to Freud, people are controlled by their egos and sexual urges. Psychological issues can be solved by looking back into the patient’s past and finding the origin of that problem.
Frankl named his practice logotherapy after the Greek word logos, which means “meaning.” His form of therapy is oriented around helping patients find meaning in their future, in contrast to the psychoanalytic practice of solving a patient’s problems by focusing on his or her past. In logotherapy, which is also called “The Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy,” the most important force in a man’s life is his desire to find meaning. While Freud speaks of a “will to pleasure” and the psychologist Alfred Adler speaks of a “will to power,” Frankl focuses on a “will to meaning.”
Frankl’s version of psychology is much more forward-looking than is Freud’s, and it also gives the patient more agency. Instead of saying that humans are controlled by their desires for pleasure or power, Frankl says that man is willing to live only because life is meaningful. Since it is up to us to create that meaning, we have a great deal of control over the path we choose to follow.