The book “The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy” is divided into four chapters that revolve around the importance and necessity of existential analysis and logotherapy. Originally published in 1946 as Ärztliche Seelsorge (in German), it was republished under Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. on 1955 and 1965, and further in 1973 by Vintage Books, under the English translation of Richard and Clara Winston. The latter – a second, expanded edition, with revisions, an updated bibliography, and an added chapter written in English by the author – was the one used in this report. The added chapter forms part of the Introduction, abridged and revised from a paper read, by special invitation, before the Royal Society of Medicine, Psychiatry Section, in London, 15th of June, 1954. This Introduction encompasses the simple logic presented throughout the whole book.
As mentioned earlier, the book is divided into four chapters: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy, From Psychoanalysis to Existential Analysis, Logotherapy as a Psychotherapeutic Technique, and From Secular Confession to Medical Ministry. The first chapter presents to the reader the necessity for a kind of treatment beyond the scope of psychotherapy. The author opens the chapter by calling the attention of its readers to the philosophical problems (mainly existential) patients bring to their doctors, a problem so immanent and tantamount to arriving at a cure for the psyche – the realm in which psychotherapy specializes in. Because of the nature of such problems, it is impossible and even a question of a doctor’s ethics to “cure” to ignore the pressure burdensomely rooted from them. Therefore, it was shown that whereas a “sickness” or a “disturbance” is manifested in somatic or psychic planes through spiritual malfeasance, logotherapy becomes a necessary approach; however, if the case rests only on the lower layers of the human person, logotherapy only becomes an alternative. But it is important to note that the author, sensing the wide scope in which logotherapy can reach, claims that even a logotherapeutic treatment for a “shallow cause” of sickness has undeniably good contribution to the person’s health. Thus, the book starts recognizing the limitation of psychotherapy in healing distressed patients, and therefore opens up to the possibility of arriving at a cure that strikes to the core of the human person.
The largest and perhaps the most attended section of the book is the second chapter. Just as diagnosis spells the corresponding approach to treatment as it lights up to the doctor the nature of the problem, its symptoms, and sometimes even its cause, the chapter confirms the limitations of Adler’s Individual Psychology and Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis – the very foundations of psychotherapy which the author vividly proclaimed “lacking” in scope. It was divided into two parts: general and special existential analysis. The rationale and the need for the division arises from the special attention certain dispositions (mainly constitutional) impose to the patients. Such attention is deliberately required from the doctor, both for a diagnosis and an approach that corresponds to the nature of the problem, and as a caution for exceptional action. Although the author devoted a small number of pages to this section, it is important to understand that of the numerous clinical cases he could muster to analyze existentially, he picked up four cases, namely, anxiety neurosis, obsessional neurosis, melancholia and schizophrenia – all of which are characterized with negative attitude towards life. The cognitive element of these cases is the crucial factor from which the division of the chapter rests upon. Thus, even if the author devoted much number of pages for the general existential analysis section (which, for the most part, a function of introducing the basic process of existential analysis that eliminates the necessity for a re-introduction for the second section), the author once again stressed the importance of the mind over the body, the spiritual over the psychic and somatic. The general existential analysis touched upon the meaning of life (of death and of the concentration camp which the author was all too familiar both in practice and in deed), the meaning of suffering, the meaning of work, and the meaning of love. These areas resemble and are parallel to the domains in which most patients delve upon and strives to search for meaning. In consequence, and perhaps as a matter of the nature of these areas, it was carefully shown that the areas in which man looks for meaning are in fact the areas where he can, indeed, find meaning. In short, the search presupposes the existence of such value-potentialities existential analysis tries to bring forth into consciousness, and which logotherapy attempts to educate the patient.
The third and last chapter is an elaboration of making logotherapy more than intuitive and improvised, and therefore something that is systematic, methodical and consequentially, learnable and doable. Proposed as a supplement for psychotherapy, logotherapy is accentuated from an important complement to a necessary supplement by which the author quoted Paracelsus in the last chapter of the book: “It is a lame creature who calleth himself a physician and he be void of philosophy and know her not.” In addendum, the author said, “We have now to ask ourselves whether a physician who does feel himself something of a philosopher is entitled to bring his philosophical views to bear on treatment.” The pedestal in which the author has placed the spirit through a case-to-case demonstration of existential analysis borne of the patients he has presumably known, takes on a concrete form. In short, recognizing the existence of such a human “layer” and characterizing its nature in opposition from the already established psychic and somatic human dimensions in psychology, the author laid the foundation for the all-encompassing cure of logotherapy. Perhaps as a strike of humility, or from the anticipation of massive critique by practicing psychotherapists of the individual and psychoanalytic schools of thought, the author modestly delineated the original hype for logotherapy and reduced it to a supplement; in spite of the wide scope logotheraphy possesses, which he has carefully demonstrated throughout the rest of the chapters, in order to remove the bias of imposing a philosophy upon the patient who longs for such (as was again logically demonstrated) and which the other schools of thought has been attacked with, logotherapy as a different “cure”, in a sense, was condemned by the very author who “made” it, as merely a supplement. Needless to say, Frankl said, “Anyone who walks along the frontier between two countries must remember that he is under surveillance from two sides. Medical ministry must therefore expect wary glances; it must take them into the bargain…a no-man’s-land. And yet – what a land of promise!”
I do not wish to go beyond the book, for the book speaks for itself. Yet I cannot remove the fact that it has impressed upon me a series of concepts worth incorporating in my life. Perhaps I am an obsessional neurotic, such a term I can fully accept and which I can demonstrate to a series of blog articles I have painted the internet. But nonetheless, the book was a good read.