The Unheard Cry For Meaning by Viktor Frankl
” This book continues the sequence that was initiated by two of its predecessors, Psychotherapy and Existentialism and The Unconscious God: Psychotherapy and Theology.
It was originally planned as a compilation of selected essays, but as I revised and expanded the contents it became ever more clear that, although the papers that had now been made into chapters were wholes, they still were interconnected by a thread. Even more important, the first two chapters discussed the three main tenets on which the system of logotherapy is based: the will to meaning, the meaning of life, the freedom of will.
Logotherapy is usually subsumed under the categories of existential psychiatry or humanistic psychology. However, the reader of my books may have noticed that I have made some critical remarks regarding existentialism, or at least regarding what is called existentialism. Similarly, he will find in this book some attacks directed at so-called humanism, or as I call it myself, pseudohumanism. He should not be surprised: I am against pseudo-logotherapy as well.
Let us briefly review the history of psychotherapy in order to determine the place of both existentialism and humanism in psychiatry and psychology. All of us have learned the lesson of the greatest spirit in psychotherapy. Sigmund Freud. I, too! (I wonder if the reader is aware of the fact that as early as 1924 a paper of mine was published in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, upon the personal invitation and intercession of Sigmund Freud.) He has taught us to unmask the neurotic, to reveal the hidden, unconscious motivations underlying his behavior.
However, as I never tire of saying, unmasking has to stop at the point where the psychoanalyst is confronted with what can no longer be unmasked, simply because it is authentic. But if some “unmasking psychologists” (that is what psychoanalysts once called themselves!) do not stop when confronted with something authentic, they still are unmasking something.
This is their own hidden motivation, their unconscious desire to devalue, debase and depreciate what is genuine, what is genuinely human, in man.
In the meantime, behavior therapy based on learning theory has gained much of the ground on which psychoanalysis stood for so long in an unquestioned position. Behavior therapists could offer evidence that many of the Freudians’ etiological beliefs were merely beliefs. Neither is each and every case of neurosis traceable to early childhood traumatic experiences or to conflicts between id, ego and superego, nor did symptom substitution follow those cures which were brought about, not by psychoanalysis, but rather by short-term behavior modification (if not by spontaneous remission).
Thus one may credit behaviorism with the demythologization of neurosis.
Yet there remained a sense of discontent It is not possible to cope with the ills and ailments of an age such as ours, one of meaninglessness, depersonalization and dehumanization, unless the human dimension, the dimension of human phenomena, is included in the concept of man that indispensably underlies every sort of psychotherapy, be it on the conscious or unconscious level….”
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