Frankl linked the neurotic triad – depression, addiction, aggression – to his concept of the Existential Vacuum a term denoting the feeling of inner emptiness.
Symptoms: Increasing idleness, tendency toward aggression, drug addiction, over emphasis on fashionable “games,” increase of criminal acts, insolvency, excess sexuality and seeking of pleasure, discontent, and increasing doubts about the world, society, and life.
Frankl saw this as a state in which the person has completely lost meaning in life. Hence to fully address the symptoms, meaning in life must be found.
Logotherapy is centred on addressing what are now called depressive and anxiety disorders. These are certainly prevalent in Australia, as Australia ranks second among OECD countries for the number of prescriptions of anti-depressant medications dispensed. (Note: this was consistent with OECD figures for both 2013 and 2015. The USA is not represented in this particular analysis).
The person who lacks meaning in life is prone to depression, seeing no point in life itself, or anxiety, knowing deep down that there is another path but fearing the discernment of it. The person can readily fall prey to “self-medication” of the symptoms by way of alcohol or other drugs, gambling – anything that can take away, at least for a short time, that feeling of inner emptiness.
These relieve the symptoms but the relief is very temporary, and addiction can follow. Another pathway to relief can be violence, increasingly prevalent in Australia – for instance domestic violence or random unprovoked assault.
Numerous therapeutic approaches are in common use to address all of these issues. Logotherapy is not the first panacea for them but provides the final step, living a meaningful life, once the presenting symptoms have been addressed.
Elizabeth Lukas, a student of Frankl and world renowned Logotherapist, suggests in fact that addressing symptoms directly is not the best first step. She suggests that once meaning in life has been explored and the person’s attitude to life modified towards a meaning to fulfil, that symptoms can reduce.
The logotherapist walks with clients to help them take a stand towards life itself, to find meaning even in the most difficult or tragic circumstances. To find out more about becoming a logotherapist or to access counselling with a logotherapeutic approach, read through this website or fill out the Contact Us form below.