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Willner, G. (1958). The Doctor and the Soul: An Introduction to Logotherapy. Viktor E. Frankl Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston. 280 pp. Alfred Knopf, New York. 1955. $4.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 18(2):194-198.

(1958). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 18(2):194-198

Book Reviews

The Doctor and the Soul: An Introduction to Logotherapy. Viktor E. Frankl Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston. 280 pp. Alfred Knopf, New York. 1955. $4.

Review by:
Gerda Willner, M.D.

Frankl is representative of a new direction psychoanalysis is taking in Europe, one which is firmly grounded in psychological, philosophical, and religious aspects of human life. It deals with existential questions such as the meaning of life and death, anxiety and suffering, the value of happiness and love, all of which are considered in this book.

While living through the horror of war and concentration camps, Frankl and many of his co-prisoners came to the crossroad of choosing sickness or health, life or death. It was then that the meaning of life revealed itself and faith was awakened. After the end of World War II, Frankl began to practice his newly found therapeutic method which he called “Logotherapy.”

The book opens with a chapter on Logotherapy which Frankl defines as a therapeutic method of dealing with the spirit of man and the meaning of life. He postulates that every human being strives to search for the meaning of his existence, and, therefore, he speaks of a “will to meaning.” He deplores the fact that in current methods of psychotherapy there is little or no room for going beyond the “will to pleasure” and the “will to power.” Challenging the meaning of life is an intrinsically human question and in itself not indicative of mental disorder. If, however, there is a frustration of the “will to meaning” and the patient experiences anxiety and despair, the result is what Frankl calls “existential neurosis,” which he contrasts to the “clinical neurosis.

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