Frankl writes that man’s search for meaning may initially cause more problems than it solves. He claims, however, that tension caused by existential frustration is essential for good mental health. For example, when Frankl’s will to meaning was frustrated in Auschwitz and he was not able to work on his manuscript, the tension that frustration caused kept him alive and in a much better state of mind than many of his fellow prisoners.
Although logotherapists help their patients become aware of their frustration, they do not necessarily seek to get rid of that frustration. Instead, they encourage patients to use that frustration as motivation to find meaning in their lives. Further, that frustration helps patients pay active attention to how they are choosing to live.
Frankl defines mental health as the tension between what one has accomplished and what one hopes to achieve. Thus logotherapists should not shy away from challenging their patients and helping them find this tension between their past and future. To be healthy, man must constantly be struggling and striving. Frankl calls this a state of “noö-dynamics.” While everyone needs to be in a noö-dynamic frame of mind, it is particularly important for those with legitimate mental problems to find such a state.
Frankl believes that we must actively search for the meaning in our lives—it will not simply appear. Being in a state of nöo-dynamics helps us create meaning because it reminds us to look for opportunities to do so. We must constantly reconcile the things that we’ve done with the goals we hope to achieve in the future.