Alexander Batthyany

Alexander Batthyány, PhD, holds the Viktor Frankl Chair for Philosophy and Psychology at the International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Liechtenstein. He teaches theory of Cognitive Science at Vienna University’s Cognitive Science Program and Logotherapy and Existential Analysis at the Department of Psychiatry at Vienna Medical School. Since 2012, Batthyany is Visiting Professor for Existential Psychotherapy at the Moscow University Institute of Psychoanalysis. He is director of the Viktor Frankl Institute and the Viktor Frankl Archives in Vienna and first editor of the 14-volume Edition of the Collected Works of Viktor Frankl. Batthyany has published several books and articles and lectures widely on philosophical and existential psychology, philosophy of mind, and theory of cognitive science.

Invited Lecture Title: Rediscovering Meaning: Logotherapy and the Reunification of Positive and Existential Psychology.

Abstract: In recent years, the role of the meaning/purpose in life construct has been addressed from two apparently diverse perspectives – positive psychology and existential psychology. Although these two may have common ground, their respective perspectives on meaning and purpose differ significantly: positive psychology’s focus on human strengths tends to emphasize the brighter side of human functioning, whereas existential psychology, traditionally, tends to address the more unsettling aspects of human existence, such as guilt, suffering, and mortality. It is quite remarkable, therefore, that these different approaches have come to view meaning and meaning awareness as central psychological (and philosophical) factors, relevant both for human striving and for human coping. In this presentation, we’lll look at some hitherto rarely acknowledged common roots of both positive and existential psychotherapy, namely the early European existential psychotherapy movements, i.e. Jaspers, Kierkegaard, and, more recently, Viktor Frankl and his logotherapy and existential analysis. The latter’s theoretical and clinical foundations are presented in this talk – and it is shown that by rediscovering the roots of both existential and positive psychologies, a number of the differences and conflicts between both approaches turn out to be only apparent rather than real.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain the encompassing context of meaning-oriented psychology both through the lens of existential and positive psychology
  • Identify common historical and theoretical roots of both research tradition (existential and positive psychology)
  • Demonstrate that by reconsidering these roots, a much needed reunification of both traditions is in reach
  • Demonstrate that by acknowledging these common roots, new research and clinical applications reveal themselves
  • Demonstrate, with case examples, how such a reunification benefits clinical practice, theory, and research