Fandom, Meaning and logotherapy

So I’m short on time but Josue reminded me to post here (days ago!! Single mom problems). I think some of my thoughts have a bald even more since the post on Facebook but I’m gonna copy paste for now.
I think the short version is I am in the same mindset as Josue, geek therapy as a mindset, (not modality) and I feel like the support for why incorporating fandom and geek life is more than just “a thing clients do” lies in the crossover between Henry Jenkins’ work in researching participatory culture, crossing with the tenants of existentialism and logotherapy, Victor Frankl‘s man search for meaning
I’ll be honest I’m super nervous to post! Trying to gather as many resources as possible, and I’m gonna try not to ramble (hahaha). In the last 10 years or so I’ve been working through reading/combining geek elements with therapy and I’ve noticed specifically for me personally even in my worst of times I have returned to fandoms for belonging and purpose. Divorce, loss of my oldest child, Infertility- all of those sparked big upticks in fandom participation. I have two tattoos, one is for my decreased daughter and one is for a fandom.
Since many of you here will know Victor Frankl, going to combine those theories with Henry Jenkins to explain what I mean about specifically drawing mental health applications from fandom. I believe that geek culture/fandoms meet two of the basic needs that logotherapy in Victor Frankl and humanistic therapy talks about, belonging AND purpose and I’m not the first person to make that awareness. I also think fandoms uniquely does so by being almost free to join and participate in (as Jenkins work describes) other than gaming which is still unique in that it’s truly participatory belonging compared to football watching with a crowd of fans.

Jenkins describes the difference in what he calls participatory culture, aka geek fandoms, as being distinctly different from fans of something like a sports team or even a musician. Fandoms have relatively low barrier to entry, usually free, create a sense of belonging that many of us may have not found in other places when we were younger and continue to find that rich experience in adulthood, The experience of being seen and heard, and the idea that we continue to share to the actual experience, as compared to passive fandom of the football game

He also talks specifically for female geeks that culture fandom’s allow for restorative opportunities, transformative opportunities, in fanfiction and the like.

I believe logotherapy and humanism dove tail nicely with lots of other theories like cognitive behavioral therapy (and the research says so) and I’m hoping to use discussions about actual fandom’s, not just specific geek elements like how to find yourself in Star Wars, but how does participation in your fandom community provide love, belonging and purpose especially when one is missing those things or tends to pull away from them in times of depression/anxiety etc


Forgive any weird spelling errors, using Siri to dictate with toddlers underfoot
I think the short version is I am looking to specifically write a self-care book I think, i’m finding that my get clients for example when given the choice of recognizing their fandom participation as one of the major sources of meeting and belonging in her life, that when they are “isolating” or participating less in their social outlets, that sometimes means all primarily online. Or gaming less. Or reading less fanfic. Not some of the same warning signs for some of these clients (and myself!) as “I haven’t met up with my best friends for lunch recently“.
I also want to create a graph that has a scale between passive participation in active participation, so passive participation would be scrolling my fandom topic on Tumblr, up to cosplay as an active participation (examples). Clients who find dropping under a certain threshold of participation may choose to pick at least one thing higher up the scale to attempt to regain some sense of connection and connection to meaning/purpose again

I also think I am maybe a bigger fan of fandoms themselves, and a huge proponent of participatory culture as more than a pastime

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I have ready Viktor’s book and thoroughly enjoyed it. It helped me at a time when looking back I was feeling a bit sorry myself and his way of thinking and the stories within the book made me realize that even in the darkest of times people can find purpose and gratitude.

I’m unsure what your post is asking if there is a question there? But I like that Logotherapy has a place for sure, I am not clinically trained but I use a variety of mind games to engage young people who have very complex needs, and Logotherapy - helping them find a purpose even though they may feel like they have no purpose or no reason to wake up each day is something I try to achieve in whatever way I can.

Fandom could be a great way to achieve this, it has all the feel good attributes that people need - community, geek culture, belonging, social interaction, gaming, events etc, all of which can be engaged with as much, or as little as possible depending on the person.

I am a bit of an “out loud“ processor so much of this has been an attempt to distill what is in my brain
I think after four days of listening and talking what I can narrow it down to is

  • further evidence and validation of geek and fandom lifestyle is just that- it’s more than just a hobby and has legitimacy. Therefore hoping to add validation that other clinicians, most especially those outside and awareness of fandom, give credence to the meaning and purpose
    And I think some spokes on the wheel To add to the idea that therapy is a framework, I win three with to add to the idea that therapy is a framework, A perspective and viewpoint through which to see clients. I agree with Josue that heat therapy is a mindset not a specific approach or tool. I think this part of the discussion is just adding one more piece of that puzzle to a large tapestry of validation

This is interesting! I definitely consider writing fanfic and being involved with a fanfic community online to be one of my own forms of geek therapy. Good to know there’s an actual theoretical backing to that.

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I love your ideas Lauren, and would even pose a feministic bent on the conceptualization of Geek Therapy. Sort of the general flavor of encouraging empowerment from oppressions, leaning on resources to find strength, and solidarity in like-minded others (even if fandoms vary). I really think about this when it comes to the social backlash we may see or experience when identifying as geeks - and the societal pressure to follow norms vs. enjoying content outside of them/outside of the expected “appropriate” lines. I totally agree with your points on Logotherapy, Frankl, existentialism, and humanism - there is a distinctly supportive and positive psych flavor that is unique to this culture/community. I’ve also wondered about a flavor of representative identification and narrative ties to embody other stories/selves to change the expectations. It’s a complex thing!


Totally agree, and I know that Henry Jenkins touched on how women specifically engage in fandom compared to men, most specifically in women being able to add to and change the story, engaging most often in transformative works like fanfiction. I see MUCH value in combining something like narrative therapy and fanficion, RPG’s etc for my female clients

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It’s always a joy to hear other geek therapists talk about their work! Viktor Frankl is my heart, but I wasn’t familiar with Jenkins’ work, so thanks for the rec!

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