Viktor Frankl wrote his experience to endure and survive four concentration camps between 1942 and 1945.

The viennese psychiatrist wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” in just 9 days and intended to publish it anonymously. He was surprised by its success as an international bestseller, and saw in it the symptom of the “mass neurosis of modern times” since the title promised to deal with the question of life’s meaningfulness.

The first part of the book recounts his experience in dealing with the worst and cruelest conditions a human being can think of, and how still some of them managed to survived. It was those who had a reason to live, who saw a meaning in their life, who were able to endure the utmost suffering a person can imagine.

Frankl had developed logotherapy as a third psychological current, different from Freud and Adler. Logotherapy is based on the desire to find a meaning a life and free will.

The primary techniques used by Frankl are:

  • Paradoxical intention, to fight anxiety and anticipatory fear. It translates into self distancing, humorous exaggeration, or just wishing for what your fear, just to prevent it
  • Dereflection: drawing attention away form their symptoms, as hyper-reflection can lead to worsening the symptoms
  • Socratic dialogue and attitude modification, to help a client find and pursue a self-defined meaning in life

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how” –Friedrich Nietzsche

Frankl reinforces the will to meaning as the fundamental motivation, in contrast to previous schools that put the emphasis on the will to pleasure or the will to power.