Man’s Search for Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning


Victor Frankl

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Man’s Search for Meaning Terms

Anticipatory anxiety

Anticipatory anxiety is a type of neurosis in which one is so worried about something that the worry actually causes that thing to happen. For example, someone who sweats a great deal might end up… read analysis of Anticipatory anxiety

Delusion of reprieve

The delusion of reprieve is a term that Frankl applies to prisoners who have just arrived at concentration camps. These prisoners firmly believe that they themselves will not be murdered and mistreated, even though they… read analysis of Delusion of reprieve


Depersonalization is a psychological term that Frankl applies to newly-liberated prisoners. In this state, man looses his connection with reality, and everything feels to him as if it is happening in a dream. read analysis of Depersonalization

Essence of human existence

For Frankl, the essence of human existence is “responsibleness.” We are human because we have responsibilities to others, and more importantly, to life itself. Life demands that each of us find a way to make… read analysis of Essence of human existence

Existential despair

While existential frustration can lead to noögenic neuroses, it can also cause existential despair. This term refers to a deep sadness regarding one’s inability to find meaning in one’s life. Existential despair does not… read analysis of Existential despair
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Existential frustration

When a person is existentially frustrated, he is having trouble finding the meaning of his life and needs to be reoriented toward his potential to accomplish a unique goal in the future. read analysis of Existential frustration

Existential vacuum

The existential vacuum is a pervasive problem in the twentieth century. In this vacuum, man becomes bored and then begins to question the value of his life. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Frankl maintains that… read analysis of Existential vacuum


Hyper-intention is Frankl’s term for a neurosis that causes patients to be unable to accomplish that which they intend. For example, Frankl writes that one will never achieve success when that is one’s intention. Instead… read analysis of Hyper-intention


Hyper-reflection is Frankl’s term for a neurosis that causes people to place more focus on themselves than on their goals, thus making it less likely for them to achieve those goals. read analysis of Hyper-reflection


Logotherapy comes from the Greek word logos, which Frankl defines as “meaning.” Also known as the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy, logotherapy is a type of psychology that focuses on helping patients find meaning… read analysis of Logotherapy


Noö-dynamics is Frankl’s term for the tension between what one has already achieved and what one ought to achieve. Frankl says that healthy people must live in a state of tension between past and present… read analysis of Noö-dynamics

Noögenic neuroses

Existential frustration can lead to noögenic neuroses, or psychological problems having to do with the meaning of one’s life. “Noögenic” comes from the Greek word for “mind.” These neuroses can only be treated through logotherapyread analysis of Noögenic neuroses


Pan-determinism is the idea that human behavior is the symptom of biological and social conditions. In other words, it is the idea that humans do not have control over who they become, but instead simply… read analysis of Pan-determinism

Paradoxical intention

Frankl uses paradoxical intention to help reverse his patients’ anticipatory anxiety. By asking his patients to try to do that which they fear doing, Frankl demonstrates that their anxieties actually hurt them rather than… read analysis of Paradoxical intention

Provisional existence of unknown limit

Frankl says that the prisoners in the concentration camp lived in a provisional existence of unknown limit, because they did not know when their suffering would end, or if they would ever be freed from… read analysis of Provisional existence of unknown limit


Frankl uses “psychoanalysis” to refer to Sigmund Freud’s school of psychology in which patients are instructed to look into their past to find the source of their problems in the present. Freudian psychoanalysis places much… read analysis of Psychoanalysis

Self-transcendence of human existence

Frankl uses this term to refer to the fact that one can only find meaning through an encounter with something external to oneself. In other words, you must forget yourself and focus on your responsibility… read analysis of Self-transcendence of human existence


The super-meaning is the broader meaning to life, death, and suffering that man cannot understand. Frankl says that people must have faith that the “whys” in life have an answer, without being able to access… read analysis of Super-meaning

Tragic optimism

Frankl defines tragic optimism as the decision to say “yes” to life despite the pain, guilt, and death that one must necessarily face. These three negative forces are counteracted by the positive forces of hope… read analysis of Tragic optimism

Will to meaning

Man’s will to meaning is his desire to live a meaningful life. A frustrated will to meaning can lead to psychological problems that require the attention of a therapist. read analysis of Will to meaning