Sigmund Freud and Viktor Frankl have both experienced similarly dramatic social and political changes within the early twentieth century Austrian environment, but their psychological theories are very different when compared. Frankl mentions that his development of logotherapy stems from Freud’s psychoanalysis but puts much more emphasis on individual control over the self in regards to attitude and interpretation of events. Logotherapy, or therapy through defining meaning, touches on many of the facets of positive psychology as developed by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Frankl identifies the three stages of mental distress as an inmate travels through a concentration camp: shock and disgust, apathetic and emotional death for protection, and following liberation is a period of almost disillusionment and disconnect with society. These stages Frankl experienced and observed personally throughout his years as an inmate in Nazi run concentration camps.
Frankl stresses the importance of finding meaning in suffering and continuous hope of liberation in regards to increasing the chances of survival in such a dehumanizing and disease ridden environment. Meaning has also been emphasized in positive psychology but termed differently, called resiliency. Resiliency was studied directly in regards to Holocaust survivors; they were constantly finding new ways to challenge their minds in order to maintain their humanity. Frankl mentions his own experience of rewriting his scientific paper that was confiscated the first day of his imprisonment, an act that was proven to give him meaning to survive through his trials. As Frankl mentions multiple times through his explanation of logotherapy and meaning in life, one quote summarizes the entire novel. Nietzche’s quote: He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how. Sources of meaning according to Frankl can be categorized as follows: creating work or doing a deed, experiencing or encountering a variation of love, and the attitude an individual takes to unavoidable suffering. All three are also mentioned in positive psychology similarly, as experiencing fulfilling work, finding and nurturing love or relationships, and one’s personal demeanor to uncontrollable circumstances.
Freud determines meaning as something much more different that personally derived. In fact, meaning according to Freud is controlled by civilization and the society surrounding the individual. Freud asserts that civilization is imposed upon the resisting masses by a minority group seeking control over nature and instincts, such that are destructive and anti-social. The ideal society that Freud seems to be repeatedly referencing admittedly is nonexistent; but this ideal civilization is one that exhibits care and nurture towards its citizens in order to circumvent the natural and destructive tendencies of the individual. Since this ideal does not exist, coercion is taken by the...