Photo of Dr. Charles McLafferty Jr.Charles McLafferty, Jr. earned his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Virginia and is a National CertifiedCounselor. Charles has been a member of the (United States) Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy since 1993, and served on the Board of Directors from1994 to 1997. He has served on the editorial boards of several academic journals and recently was named “Reviewer of the Year” for Research in the Schools.

Dr. McLafferty Jr. is the founding director of Purpose Research, LLC, which is committed to education, research, and publication of ideas related to purpose and meaning. He has argued that the quantitative dominance of research in counseling, education, medicine, and psychology will inevitably be subsumed by a four-dimensional understanding that also includes—and extends—qualitative and mixed methods research. He has illustrated this postulate in national and international journals (including American Psychologist and The Lancet) by examining faulty assumptions underlying research on core issues such as nature vs. nurture, happiness, career choice, and prayer.

Dr. McLafferty Jr., will be presenting a lecture on The Future of Logotherapy: Frankl’s Greatest Omissions.

Presentation Abstract:

The Future of Logotherapy: Frankl’s Greatest Omissions

Nearly 15 years after Frankl’s death, healers and educators face a decision point. Books have been written, training programs created, and journals published to disseminate research and training on logotherapy. Frankl’s life itself was a monument, a living testament to the power of, and need for, meaning. But there are several things that Frankl never said (and something he never did) that are important to consider. The positive psychologist and the logotherapist humbly need to consider these omissions in order to truly understand—and live—logotherapy.

Among the points to be considered:

First, Viktor Frankl never stated that the person lives in only three dimensions. In fact, in one sentence, he mentions a fourth dimension, which he termed theos. Careful consideration of this idea reveals that Frankl infused this fourth dimension throughout his writing. However, he never defined it, nor reified its importance. A working definition and outline of this dimension will be proposed.

Second, Viktor Frankl never stated that meaning could be either created or discovered. In fact, he specified that the meaning of logotherapy cannot be created; it must be discovered. This point has deep implications for those who are studying “personal meaning” or “meaning making” as part of logotherapy or positive psychology. An educational system based on “created meaning” rather than “discovered meaning” rapidly loses its purpose; logotherapy is not constructivist in nature. It will be demonstrated that this fact is related to—and follows from—the first.

Third, Frankl never prescribed set techniques for specific conditions. Each practitioner and each client is unique. Though (for example) paradoxical intention is useful in treating phobias, and attitude modulation for “blows of fate,” the application of each of these requires consideration of the uniqueness of the client, by each unique practitioner. It is too easy for the pursuit of meaning to be replaced with exacting techniques, thus missing the whole point of logotherapy—the alignment of the individual with a source of meaning that is greater than the individual. This alignment is directly connected to the first two ideas presented.

Finally, Viktor Frankl never formed an Institute for training logotherapists. This omission is consistent with his insistence that it is not enough to know logotherapy; it is only by living logotherapy that it is possible to know a living logotherapy. But how do we do this?

Because of the presence of the four dimensions, the necessity of discovering meaning, and the uniqueness of the individual, it is consistent that logotherapy cannot be “learned”; it must be lived.

Implications from these omissions help us to define what is logotherapy, and what is not logotherapy. It has implications for the movement for worldwide accreditation of programs, which was begun in Vienna in March, 2012. And it has direct applications for the way we think about, practice, and offer training programs in logotherapy.