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Viktor Frankl
considered the search for meaning to be our deepest motivation. Developments in Existential Analysis led to the discovery of three existential (or personal) motivations that precede the motivation for meaning. Together these four motivations lead to profound and enduring personal discovery
The cornerstones of

1.   We are motivated by the fundamental question of existence: I existcan I be in this world where I live? Do I have the necessary space, protection and support? When we experience these we feel accepted and this in turn enables us to embrace an accepting attitude toward ourselves. - A deficit can lead to anxiety.

2.   We are motivated by the fundamental question of life: I am alive – do I like this? Do I have access to my emotions?  Do I feel my emotions, feel their value? Experiencing the value of my life makes me aware that it is good to be alive - “that I am here”.  - Deficits can lead to depression.

3.  We are motivated by the fundamental question of “self”: I am myself – but do I feel free to be myself? Am I allowed to be who I am? Do I experience attention, justice, appreciation, esteem, respect, "my own worth"?  Do I feel I have the right to be me? - Deficits at this level can lead to a histrionic complex of symptoms and personality disorders.

4.  We are motivated by the fundamental question of meaning: I am here – for what purpose?  What is present today that may make my life part of a meaningful whole? What do I live for? - A deficit can lead to suicidal tendencies, aggravate addictions and other dependencies.





We are continuously challenged and questioned by the  four existential motivations – the world, life, self, and future (meaning). The practice of Existential Analysis relies on dialogue as the main therapeutic tool to explore these challenges at the individual level.

Dr. Alfried Laengle
  • Psychotherapist, Existential Analyst, Clinical Psychologist, MD, Ph.D. Pupil of Victor Frankl.

  • Scientific developments in Psychotherapy and Existential Analysis.

  • Ex-president of the International Society of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis (GLE-I).

  • Founder and scientific supervisor of a number of educational centers of existential analysis in Berlin, Hanover, Munich, Bern, Zurich, Vienna, Innsbruck, Prague, Moscow, Kiev, St. Petersburg, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Riga, London.

  • Author of several books and a large number of scientific articles devoted to the theory and practice of existential analysis.

*The classes are conducted by Alfried Laengle and other trainers from GLE International

Existential Analysis and its applications through the eyes of professional psychologists and psychotherapists

This video was filmed during The First World Congress for Existential Therapy "Freedom, Responsibility and the Meaning of Being" held in London in May 2015. Psychotherapists from Canada, Austria, Chile and Russiа share their experiences of Existential Analysis - as students and practitioners.


Existential Analysis can be defined as a phenomenological and person-oriented psychotherapy, with the aim to lead the person to dare (mentally and emotionally) free experiences, to induce authentic decisions and to bring about a truly responsible way of dealing with life and the world. Thus, Existential Analysis can be applied in cases of psychosocial, psychosomatic and psychological caused disorder in experience and behaviour.


The psychotherapeutic process takes place via phenomenological analysis of the emotions as the centre of experiences. Biographical work and empathic listening by the therapist contribute to an improvement in emotional understanding and accessibility.

Logotherapy is a method of counselling or helping in the quest for meaning.

Short description

Existential analysis is an approach in psychotherapy. It combines a great respect for a person’s individual life choices with therapeutic effective means. Its phenomenological approach allows to take all possible aspects of an individual’s experience into consideration.


Grounded originally in the anthropological concepts of Viktor Frankl today its main theoretical conception consists in a more practically and methodologically applicable anthropology (Alfried Längle, Vienna).

This assumes that man is moved in his life by four fundamental motivations, the first of which is his need to be able to accept the basic conditions of his life, the second comprising his need to feel values and to have relationships, the third his quest to become his own person and the fourth to achieve something meaningful in the world. The theoretical concept of these fundamental motivations provide the necessary framework to situate and treat all kinds of psychic problems.

This concept is unique to the approach taught by the GLE.

A little more extensive description

Existential analysis was conceived by Viktor E. Frankl in the 1930s as an anthropological theory of an existential school of psychotherapy. At the same time Frankl developed “Logotherapy” as a meaning-oriented form of counselling and treatment.
Existential analysis means an analysis of the conditions necessary for a life in which values have their place and that is self-shaped and dignified.


The aim of existential analysis is to develop one’s perceptiveness and individual activity (capability for devotion) in one’s experiences, relations and actions. This means that existential analysis deals with the personal conditions prerequisite for a meaningful existence in cases where these are blocked by psychic illnesses or troubles.

Its theoretical and practical basis is the concept of the fundamental motivations (Längle) which are systematically referred to in counselling and therapy as the “building blocks of existence”. In addition, the method of “Personal Existential Analysis” is used in therapy. This represents an existential and phenomenological method of psychotherapy which makes it possible to treat psychogenetic (particularly neurotic) troubles with existential analysis in the way of depth psychology. This form of existential analysis was developed in the GLE and is exclusively taught there.

The concepts of the GLE constitute an elaboration of Frankl’s approach and, in particular, include work on emotions and biography. This is especially important since the existential analytical and logotherapeutical anthropology sees humans as beings who constantly shape their lives with conscious or unconscious decisions. But decisions can only be taken in a meaningful way, if the values in question are made conscious, are experienced and are weighed against each other. This act requires perceptivity as far as the world around is concerned instead of self-absorption. Furthermore, this is only possible if one has access to one’ s emotions which bring a person in touch with his or her values.

Existential analysis does not see a person as the mere result of innerpsychic processes or of the influences of his environment, but as someone who can shape himself in those things that count in life. Therefore notions like being (existence), relation (values), freedom of decision, responsibility (conscience) form the fundamental concepts of the existential analytical way of thinking and they all lead to the idea of “meaning” (=logos).

The practical application of logotherapy as a meaning-oriented form of counselling and treatment consists primarily in assisting people who are not (yet) ill, but who suffer from a sense of loss of existential orientation. Thus logotherapy is widely applicable in psychological, psychohygienic, social, preventive, caring, educational and pastoral fields. It contributes to the prophylaxis of neuroses and to the prevention and treatment of feelings of meaninglessness and emptiness (“existential vacuum”). Its aim is to enhance the individual experience of meaning by leading to a freely chosen responsibility (“individual responsibility”).

Existential analysis and logotherapy dispose of roughly a dozen specific methods and techniques to realise this conception.

Leading a meaningful life means doing what one has sensed and recognized as being valuable.

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