Korean J Hosp Palliat Care.  2020 Jun;23(2):39-43. 10.14475/kjhpc.2020.23.2.39.

Finding Meaning in Life Threatening Illness

  • 1The Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy in Korea, Incheon, Korea


This paper aims to explore how to help terminally ill patients and their families find meaning in their suffering from the logotherapeutic perspective, which is the essence of palliative care. For this purpose, this paper examines the main concepts and principles of logotherapy, and specific approaches based on the logotherapeutic perspective to help terminally ill patients and their families find meaning in life are presented. Emphasizing the will to meaning as the primary motive to explain human behaviors and based on its unique perspective of the human being, which is called the dimensional ontology, logotherapy considers the human being to consist of the body, the mind, and the spirit. The dimensional ontology implies that the human being “has” the body and the mind, but the human being “is” the spirit itself. Therefore, even though a human being can be sick physically or psychologically, Accordingly, it is essential to help these patients realize that they are not their illnesses, but just have them, and to rise above themselves to reach out toward something meaningful or someone to love; despite their suffering, they can still do something meaningful, even in a small way. Above all, the most important thing for these patients is to acknowledge that they have already lived a meaningful life and to believe that their meaningful work has been safely preserved in the past and nothing can take it from them, for as spiritual beings, their lives have been meaningful unconditionally.


Psychotherapy; Spirituality; Palliative Care
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