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Posted July 1, 2003

Book: The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy
Author: Viktor E. Frankl, M.D.
Bantam Books, New York, pp. 236

Excerpt from Jacket:

Is there meaning in life, in death, in suffering, in work, in sex, in love? How can a sense of meaning help secure mental health? And what is the role of doctor in conveying this meaning?

These are the questions confronted by Dr. Viktor Frankl, world-famous psychiatrist and leading proponent of existential analysis. Drawing on his vast store of case histories, as well as on his personal experiences as an inmate of Nazi concentration camps, Dr. Frankl presents a brilliant antidote for the inner emptiness and purposelessness that have become the mass neurosis of the century. The Doctor And The Soul is a major contribution of our times an invaluable key to understanding ourselves and the world we live in.

Excerpt from Book:

Anxiety is usually called the disease of our time; we speak of the Age of Anxiety. But previous centuries probably had much more reason for anxiety than ours. It is also doubtful whether the relative incidence of anxiety neurosis has increased. The collective neurosis insofar as this term has validity, is characterized by four symptoms which I shall describe.

First, there is the planless, day-to-day attitude toward life. Contemporary man is used to living from one day to the next. He learned to do so in the last world war, and since then this attitude has not been modified. People lived in this way because they were waiting for the end of the war; meanwhile, further planning made no sense. Today the average man says: "Why should I act, why should I plan? Sooner or later the atom bomb will come and wipe out everything." And thus he slides into the attitude of: "Apres moi, la bombe atomque!" This anticipation of atomic warfare is a dangerous as any other anticipatory anxiety, since, like all fear, it tends to make its fears come true.

The second symptom is the fatalist attitude toward life. This, again, is a product of the last world war. Man was pushed. He let himself drift. The day-to-day man considers planned action unnecessary; the fatalist considers it impossible. He feels himself to be the helpless result of outer circumstances or inner conditions.

The third symptom is collective thinking. Man would like to submerge himself in the masses. Actually, he is only drowned in the masses; he abandons himself as a fee and responsible being.

The fourth symptom is fanaticism. While the collectivist ignores his own personality, the fanatic ignores that of the other man, the man who thinks differently. Only his own opinion is valid. In reality, his opinions are those of the group and he does not really have them; his opinions have him.

Table of Contents:

I. From psychotherapy to Logotherapy
II. From psychoanalysis to existential analysis
A. General existential analysis
1. On the Meaning of Life
(a) On the meaning of Death
(b) On the psychology of the concentration camp

2. On the meaning of Suffering
3. On the meaning of Work
4. On the meaning of Love

B. Special existential analysis
1. On the psychology of anxiety neurosis
2. On the psychology of obsessional neurosis
3. On the psychology of melancholia
4. On the psychology of schizophrenia

III. Logotherapy as a psychotherapeutic technique
IV. From secular confession to medical ministry