Viktor Frankl??™s Work in Relation to Marx, Sartre and Freud

Viktor Frankl is a well known author and psychiatrist who formed a method of therapy called Logotherapy after being a prisoner of a concentration camp in the 1930??™s. His work has been compared to other great minds like Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx and Jean-Paul Sartre. All four of these men were considered to b e philosophers in their own right. Some are more closely related to philosophical state of mind known as existentialism. Maybe all of these men were. This is what the paper is going to determine.

Viktor Frankl served a couple of years in the worst concentration camp that surfaced during World War II known as Auschwitz. During his stay in the camps, Frankl lost his father, mother, brother and wife. The only family member that survived and was spared was his sister. Frankl was stripped down to his bare naked self in the camp was provided with virtually nothing to eat or stay warm. Through the trials and tribulations of the camp, he designed his own form of therapy called Logotherapy. Frankl had realized during his imprisonment, that those people or other prisoners who found meaning in their life were the ones that survived the prison camp. The prisoners who sat around at let the environment consume them without really taking a look at their own existence and why it should be important to them wound up being gased or burned to death.

Frankl realized during his stay at the camp what was truly important to him and what his purpose was in life. He found that being there for other struggling prisoners gave him strength to carry on and continue in his own life. He kept active and made the horrifying environment a rewarding experience. This is where he saw Logotherapy, which means meaningful therapy or findind meaning, as opposed to the pleasure principle which was introduced by Sigmund Freud. ???That is why I speak of a will to meaning in contrast to the pleasure principle on which Freudian psychoanalysis is centered???(Frankl, 121).
Viktor Frankl and Sigmund Freud are constantly being compared to each other with regards to their theories and method of therapy. Both of these men are predominantly concerned with the nature and cure of neuroses. Neuroses can be classified as a functional disorder where anxiety, obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions dominate the personality of the individual. Freud believed that at the very core of these anxiety disorders sits a dispute of unconscious motives (Frankl, 10). Frankl was able to trace some of these anxiety disorders which he classified to be ???noogenic neuroses???, as a personal failure instilled by an individual to not see meaning or a sense of be accountable for their own existence. As Freud addresses this concept in relation to sexual life and pleasure, Frankl looks at this type of frustration in the ???will to meaning.??? As Frankl began to practice this type of methodology and therapy he realized his own existential views about how he perceives life. Two men who share those same views were Jean-Paul Sartre and Karl Marx.
Jean-Paul Sartre was a philosopher, an existentialist who believed in radical freedom. Under this concept, people are free to do whatever they want. According to Sartre, even though man is wholly free, he is still accountable for his own actions and must accept that responsibility. Sartre had three main viewpoints of existentialism; the individual human being, the meaning or purpose of human life, and individual freedom. Sartre??™s views on freedom revolve around everything we think feel and do (Stevenson, 189). As Sartre reviewed human nature on an individual note, Karl Marx viewed human nature and humanity as a result of a social nature. ???The real nature of man is the totality of social relations??? (Stevenson, 172). Marx stated that human nature is not fixed to one particular thing. Human Nature evolves over time according to the changes in society.

Karl Marx??™s views about life and society were based all around a social setting. He despised capitalism and called it evil. Marx wanted there to be no upper or lower class. He wanted the perfect society where all people were equal and got their own share of everything. His hopes were to have this so-called perfect society, which later on was known as communism. Marx views about philosophy are quite different from Viktor Frankl??™s. According to Marxism, the capitalist society will lose its power to a classless, socialist society. Viktor Frankl and Karl Marx were existentialist. However, they had different viewpoints regarding where those existential philosophies were coming from. Frankl??™s views dealt with the individual how they can adapt within their environment and make the best out of any situation. Marx??™s views said the opposite. Marx believed that people are a product of their environment and everything is based on social order.
In summary, all four of these great thinkers have some very common theories about psychoanalysis and Existentialism. All four existentialist; however, Frankl did not side fairly with Marxism. Frankl shared those same views about therapy with Freud although the direction of those views took different paths. Frankl??™ s therapy dealt with the individuals deeper search for ???will to meaning??? in life while Freud??™s approach focused on the pleasure principle and how an individual feels. On the other hand, Sartre stated that people have the ability to do whatever they want as long as they accept the consequences. Much like Frankl, Sartre??™s approach focused on the individual ideas and thoughts. On the contrary, Karl Marx??™s views were never in favor of the individual. Marx stated that people are a product of their environment. The ideas, beliefs and family dynamics for the social classes were a direct result of the social environment at that time. In other words, if the environment changes so will the perceptions of the individual. People eventually began to label Marx as a materialist for saying that people??™s mental states are determined by material events around them (Stevenson, 172). There was, however, one generalization about human nature which Frankl agreed with. ???We are active, productive beings, we are different by nature form other animals because we produce our means of subsistence??? (Stevenson, 173).

Works Cited
Frankl, Viktor E. Mans Search for Meaning. New York: Beacon Press, Pocket Books, 1946, 1959, 1962, 1984.
Leslie Stevenson, David L. Haberman. Ten Theories of Human Nature. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc, 2009.