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What is the point?

thWhy do we go to work? What does existence really mean? Viktor Frankl asks this question in psychotherapy and existentialism and suggests it means a certain type of being; a specific manner of being of which man and persons alone are capable. To be human is to be engaged and entangled in situations in life and in work – to be directed and pointed to something ‘other’ than ourselves. In other words, the essence of existence is transcendence not actualization. Does this mean there is a need to humanize the organizations we work for if 87% of us are not engaged?

A 2016 Job Satisfaction Index conducted by HRI and Gallup states that “Most people then remind themselves of more than the mere fact that work puts food on the table. In general, we are mainly mo- tivated to do our job because we see purpose in doing it – and the feeling of purpose has a vital impact on our job satisfaction. According to Cecilie Eriksen, a Ph.D. from Aarhus University in Denmark, the purpose people find in their work has undergone a historical shift. “Historically, the reason to go to work has, to a large extent, been exclusively to feed your family. For many people nowadays, work is much more than that. We work because we feel that it matters – both to society and to who we are.

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Even though purpose can be difficult to pinpoint, it is of absolute importance if we want to understand job satisfaction. If we increase an individual’s sensation of purpose by 10 points, overall job satisfaction goes up by 2.6 points. Thus, meaning proves to be the most important factor for job satisfaction. In fact, it has a greater effect on job satisfaction than salary, results, and colleagues combined.”

Existential analysis attempts to be not only an analysis of the concrete person but also, an unfolding of the essence of personal existence, to an “illumination of meaning”, an illumination of the possibilities of meaning, as this happens in their life (Frankl, 1967, p. 127)[i].

Existenzanalyse (existential analysis) was the alternative term Frankl used to logotherapy on the occasion of a talk in 1929 to a small study group of the Academic Society for Medical Psychology. It was the term he used from 1933 until the 1960s and had systematized his ideas to some extent. (Frankl, 2000, p. 64)[ii].

Most authors agreed in the 1960s that logotherapy fell under the category of existential psychiatry which links in to ‘existenzananlyse’ but when American authors started publishing in the field of logotherapy they introduced the term existential analysis as a translation of existenzananlyse. This only caused a problem when other authors did the same with the word Daseinanalyse a term selected by the late Ludwig Binswanger, the Swiss psychiatrist used to denote his own teachings (Frankl, 1970, p. 5)[iii].

The key difference between daseinanalyse and existenzanalyse is that the former places the emphasis on the illumination of existence in terms of being, where the latter over and above an illumination of being dares to make the advance to an illumination of meaning.

Since then Frankl believed existential analysis became an ambiguous word, and certainly felt there were lessons to be learnt from existentialisms “pessimism of the present” (Frankl, 1978, p. 110)[iv] as Logotherapy espouses an optimism of the past, activism of the future and realism of the present (Frankl, 1978, p.104)[v] so he refrained from using the term in his publications in English.

This manner of being is an essential quality within each person that can be viewed as unfolding within one dimension only, or when combined with logotherapy can be seen as multi-dimensional and therefore potentially relevant to any multi-dimensional approach that may be considered in how types of management such as project management can be more wholly understood and applied.

Logotherapy and Existential Analysis

Logotherapy and Existential analysis are really the same in so far as existential analysis is the therapy of logotherapy as the emphasis shifts from a bare analysis of being to the possibilities of meaning. (Frankl, 1967, p. 128)[vi].

Logotherapy is not only concerned with this shift from being, but also with the search for meaning, so not only with ontos[1] but also with logos – and this feature, accounts for the actavistic, therapeutic orientation of logotherapy. This is why logotherapy is not only analysis but also therapy (Frankl, p.13)[vii].

fidanzati-1When people feel their lives are meaningless, resulting from feelings of frustration and angst, logotherapy believes they are existentially frustrated. Existential frustration or despair is when man’s will to meaning is frustrated.

The term existential can be used in three ways: to refer to existence itself the specifically human mode of being, the meaning of existence and the striving to find a concrete meaning in personal existence, that is to say the will to meaning. Each of these can be expressed in several disordered behaviours including substance abuse, suicide, and criminality.

The correlation between a feeling of meaninglessness and a number of dysfunctional behaviours has been empirically demonstrated using logotherapy tests such as P.I.L. the purpose in life test (Frankl, 2010, p. 35)[viii] [2].

As is the case with any therapy, there is a theory underlying its practice – a theoria, i.e a vision, a weltanshauung. Frankl makes the point that it is less to do with whether or not a therapy has a theory of man and philosophy of life, but rather, whether that world view is right or wrong. max-scheler

Logotherapy unlike other therapies is based on an explicit philosophy of life that ensures the humanness of man is preserved in the philosophy and theory so that the human quality of a human being is not disregarded and neglected (Frankl, 1970, p15)[ix].

The search for meaning through an actavisitc approach is a key message for the project management profession to consider, as an assumption that a feeling of meaninglessness may not come from a blind spot that is a whole dimension being omitted. Without seeing or being open to this possibility any frustration has little foundation on which to understand a more right world view or concept.

Logotherapys concept of man is based on three fundamental assumptions, which form a chain of interconnected links (Frankl, 1967, p.13)[x], the freedom of will, the will to meaning and the meaning of life, each of which we will explore in more detail in order to see how they can help project management be more wholly understood and applied.

[1] Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of beingbecomingexistence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist, and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

  1. [2] Logotherapy and existential analysis has James C. Crumbaugh and his co author Leonard T. Maholick to thank for one of the first large scale empirical works. They were the first to attempt to capture the logotherapeutic construct of meaning fulfilment psychometrically with the help of the purpose in life (PIL) tests. Their paper was published in 1964 in the journal of clinical psychology under the revealing title “An experimental investigation in Existentialism”.

An abridged version of this paper was delivered before the Section on Methodology and Social Psychology of The Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, at the annual meeting in Miami, April 12, 1963. The PIL was the first of what would prove to be 15 test-instruments that were developed in the framework of logotherapy (Guttman 1996). Between 1975 and 2005 alone, over 600 empirical and clinical studies in professional psychiatric and psychological journals were published which substantiated the clinical efficacy of logotherapy and existential analysis, as well as the validity of its psychological motivation and cognition principles (for an annotated bibliography of these studies, see Batthyany & Guttmann, 2005).

[i] Frankl, Viktor. Psychotherapy & Existentialism. USA, Penguin Books, 1967

[ii] Frankl, Viktor. Recollections. USA, Basic Books, 2000.

[iii] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970

[iv] Frankl, Viktor. The Unheard Cry for Meaning.USA, Simon & Schuster, 1978

[v] Frankl, Viktor. The Unheard Cry for Meaning.USA, Simon & Schuster, 1978

[vi] Frankl, Viktor. Psychotherapy & Existentialism. USA, Penguin Books, 1967

[vii] Frankl, Viktor. Psychotherapy & Existentialism. USA, Penguin Books, 1967

[viii] Frankl, Viktor. The Feeling of Meaninglessness. USA, Marquette University Press, 2010.

[ix] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.

[x] Frankl, Viktor. Psychotherapy & Existentialism. USA, Penguin Books, 1967

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