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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy: Method of Choice in Ecumenical Pastoral Psychology by Ann V. Graber (Wyndham Hall Press) Ann Graber, professor of psychology at Graduate Theological Foundation, has written a study that can add a new chapter to our understanding of psychotherapy and its place in Western culture. The story of Sigmund Freud is well known, along with his founding with Alfred Adler of the psychoanalytic movement in Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century. What is not so well known is the role played by another Viennese psychotherapist, Viktor Frankl, whose life spanned almost the entirety of the 20th century. It is true that Frankl is known to many readers from his book, Man's Search for Meaning, the gripping story of his survival in Nazi concentration camps. Not equally well known is the school of psychotherapy that he founded which was validated by that harrowing experience. In the midst of his overwhelming suffering he had an insight into the creative capacity of the human spirit in time of crisis that Freud and the early members of his psychoanalytic circle had not directly explored.

Freud, who had been trained in the medical world of Vienna , looked into the depths of the psyche of his patients and discovered there was a dynamism by which the psyche with the aid of a guide could heal itself. In a parallel way, but drawing from a higher level, Frankl, in the midst of excruciating suffering looked deep into the human spirit and discovered there the courage not only to survive, but to live life on a higher spiritual level. It was this experience of awakening to the power and transcendence of the human spirit that has energized Viktor Frankl's logotherapy movement described by Graber in Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy.

For this task, Graber draws from her cultural heritage and educational background, her years of professional experience as a psychotherapist, and her insight into the creative possibilities of Viktor Frankl's logotherapy for the realm of pastoral psychology. She presents her case with a clarity that can benefit psychotherapists, particularly the group of professionals who work in the fields of religion, spirituality, and pastoral counseling. Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy is strong in three major areas:

1.      The historical background and the philosophical currents of logotherapy at the time of its emergence.

2.      Knowledge of logotherapy as a psychological method and as a professional community.

3.      Original insights into the role of logotherapy in the present and future milieu of ecumenical pastoral psychology.

Graber situates the schools of Freud, Adler, and Frankl within the context of the history of Austrian culture during the past 150 years, the Austrian Tyrol and the cultural richness of that milieu. In the final section of Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy, Graber presents her own contribution to the logotherapy movement: identifying and highlighting the distinctive contribution logotherapy can make in the larger field of psychotherapy. With examples from her own practice, she highlights the fact that Viktor Frankl's therapy deals not with a long process of psychotherapy, as is the case with Freudian analysis, but with situations in which spiritual values are awakened and harnessed to aid the client to deal effectively with the current crisis.

 From the introduction:

Before Freud, questions having to do with "the meaning of life" were brought before the minister, priest, pastor or rabbi; and, perhaps, were asked of the philosopher. After Freud, they tended to be asked on the psychoanalyst's couch. As the science of psychotherapy grew and developed, boundaries were drawn and redrawn as specialties evolved and staked their professional turf. Psychiatry now tends to be concerned primarily with psycho-pharmacology, salvation is seen as the purview of religion, and psychology is preoccupied with testing and assessing.

Who is there to tend to the psycho‑spiritual needs of the people? Pastoral Psychology, a fairly new and green branch on the tree of human services, is trying to fill the gap between medical and religious functions. Its tool kit needs more fitting tools for the task than those that were crafted by medical science, psychology, or theology. The unique contribution of this study will be to devise a treatment model for Pastoral Psychology that is spiritually based and psychologically sound. It will be a timely instrument to meet contemporary and future needs of ministry professionals and others who endeavor to meet the psycho‑spiritual needs of those who seek their services.

To that end, the philosophy and spiritually based psychotherapy of Viktor Emil Frankl, MD, PhD., termed logotherapy, has been found to offer the greatest potential. The exploration of the tenets of logotherapy will culminate in concrete treatment models with wide application in practice.

After a substantive exposition of the theoretical formulations, and establishing relevance of Franklian theory to Pastoral Psychology, logotherapeutic treatment approaches applicable to most pastoral counseling situations ‑ excluding the pathology of mental illness ‑ will be presented.

Logotherapy's inherent ecumenical posture will be highlighted as well as its efficacy for interfaith counseling. The work is intended to meet the contemporary and future needs of professionals using Pastoral Psychology who work in the "global village" with its divergent cultural values. The primary focus will be on accessing the intrinsic human spirit in order to bring about meaningful change that leads to psycho‑spiritual well‑being.

The corpus of material by Viktor Frank will be supplemented by resources from theology, psychology, counseling, and related fields. Together it will serve to ground the work in the spirit of hopefulness as well as in psychological soundness. Poets and mystics will be occasionally invited to make guest appearances on the pages of this book to enhance given points and to add their grace and blessings.

Viktor Frankl’s landmark book Man's Search for Meaning (4th Edition Beacon Press; hardcover, paperback) has sold over nine million copies around the world. First published in the USA almost forty years ago, the existentialist psychotherapist's famous memoir has inspired many of readers around the world and was voted one of the ten most influential books in America in the Library of Congress / Book-of-the-Month Club's Survey of Lifetime Readers. Now in this recent MAN’S SEARCH FOR ULTIMATE MEANING ($24.95, hardcover; Insight Books, ISBN: 0306456206) Frankl builds on the insights he first developed in Man's Search for Meaning.

MANS SEARCH FOR ULTIMATE MEANING focuses on several key concepts including the will to meaning. The will to meaning, Frankl explains, is a drive which all humans share: the need to make sense of one's personal situation, to discover or create a purpose for living, a raison d'tre.

Everyone wants a reason to keep hope alive and keep going. Frankl shows how to find it or create it. His life and work stand as powerful evidence for this innate human necessity: imprisoned by the Nazis, threatened by death and disease for months on end, he nonetheless found the purpose and sense of direction to create Man's Search for Meaning, his most influential work. In his trademark no nonsense, down-to-earth style, he explains how anyone even someone who is terminally ill can not only find meaning in his or her life but also make a valuable contribution to society.

MAN’S SEARCH FOR ULTIMATE MEANING also provides perspectives on such great themes of life as love, material success and spirituality.

In the context of logotherapy, Frankl's own practical psychoanalytical method human experience is given a religious depth. Created as an alternative to traditional Freudian analysis, logotherapy aims to resolve issues as they exist in the moment, rather than focusing primarily on their roots in the past. Always an iconoclast, Frankl is quick to dismiss conventional psychological wisdom in favor of ideas that ore on a strategic level in everyday life.

A landmark, existential work imbued with humor and supported by dozens of unforgettable, real-life examples, MANS SEARCH FOR ULTIMATE MEANING is commonsensical advice from the mind of one of the Twentieth Century's most uplifting and inspiring thinkers.

VIKTOR FRANKL RECOLLECTIONS: An Autobiography ($24.95 cloth, ISBN 0306454106), we watch the author living his own philosophy: as doctor, teacher, Holocaust survivor, mountain climber, music lover and jokester. More than a mere chronology of a life, VIKTOR FRANKL RECOLLECTIONS is a series of anecdotes which illustrate the author's often superhuman attempts to give life to a truly self-actualized, authentic existence. Imbued with modesty, wisdom, insight and a considerable amount of dry wit, this long-awaited memoir gives us a rare look at one of the great thinkers of our time: a man who, up close, resembles the rest of us in so many ways. As such, Frankl perfectly embodies the individual who becomes a true role model despite his professed intentions not to be one. His story is a gentle and persuasive challenge for us to do as well. This work offers an integral example of Frankl’s embodiment of logotherapy. It is also an invitation to radical self acceptance through truth telling.

VIKTOR FRANKL RECOLLECTIONS offers readers an intimate glimpse of a man whose influence transcends his stature as one of the pillars of modem thought. Frankl was born in 1905 and was educated in Austria. Having gravitated early toward the study of medicine, and, in particular, psychiatry, he soon found himself at the forefront of this fledgling science, engaging in debates with luminaries including Sigmund Freud and the man who was to be Frankl's greatest mentor, Alfred Adler. As a young neurologist, Frankl's preoccupation with the troubles of the human psyche was instrumental in shaping the development of his thought. Early in his career, Frankl broke with Adler and developed his own theory of Logotherapy, commonly known as the "Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy."

Logotherapy is unique in that it attempts to offer solutions to human concerns as they exist in the moment, rather than attempting to locate their roots in the past as in Freudian psychiatry. Its inventor was forced to put his new theory to the most difficult test of all, when he found himself taken prisoner by the Nazis and sent to the death camps along with his family. By applying the principles of logotherapy in his own time of despair, Frankl was able to withstand the loss of his family and his own brushes with death. Out of the horror of the death camps came the foundation for his best loved work, Man's Search for Meaning wherein Frankl reaffirmed his belief in God and in mankind's capacity for kindness and compassion despite all odds.

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