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Saturday, August 14, 2010

#20 Logotherapy Technique: Paradoxical Intention

#21 Logotherapy Technique: Dereflection
Replaced by Lesson 4: The Primary Techniques of Logotherapy
11 September 2010

#20 Logotherapy Technique: Paradoxical Intention
Replaced by Lesson 4: The Primary Techniques of Logotherapy
14 August 2010

#19 Logotherapy Technique: Socratic Dialogue
Replaced by Lesson 4: The Primary Techniques of Logotherapy
15 July 2010

Paradoxical intention is to wish for that which is most feared.  By pushing one's fear to exaggeration, usually in a humorous way, the wind is taken out of the sails of the fear.

Humor is one of those characteristics of the human spirit that, according to Frankl, can be used as a source of health.  Of course, when using humor, one must be careful to understand that the humor is directed toward the symptom, not toward the person.  That is, when using paradoxical intention, humor is used as a tool to defeat the symptom, not used to poke fun at a human being.

Paradoxical intention appears to be associated with para-sympathetic arousal, particularly learning to decrease sympathetic arousal through humor (as opposed to the more common approach of relaxation).  As such, it teaches the client that she is not a slave to her anxiety, that she can take a stand against it, and even reduce it.

Case studies are presented from Dr. Frankl, Dr. Lukas, and my own practice.

Update:  Since this podcast was recorded, Dagmar Devorah Sigrid Fabry has published a comprehensive review of outcome studies on paradoxical intention and concludes that "...Paradoxical  Intention has a sound evidence base."

Reference:  Fabry, D. D. S.  (2010).  Evidence base for paradoxical intention:  Reviewing clinical outcome studies.  The International Forum for Logotherapy, 33, 21-29.

Thank you for listening. Please email any questions or comments to and may you have a meaningful day.

1 comment:

  1. The phrase that struck me was Teresa saying she couldn't 'force herself' to do it.

    One possibility is that she stopped forcing herself and allowed it to happen naturally. In which case the paradoxical intention would work in the usual way.