Frankl, Viktor E(mil)

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FRANKL, Viktor E(mil)

Nationality: Austrian. Born: Vienna, 26 March 1905. Education: University of Vienna, M.D. 1930, Ph.D. 1949. Family: Married 1) Mathilde Grosser in 1941 (died 1945); 2) Eleonore Katharina Schwindt in 1947, one daughter. Career: Director of neurology department, Rothschild Hospital, Vienna, 1940-42; director of neurology department, Poliklinik Hospital, 1946-70; beginning 1947 professor of neurology and psychiatry, University of Vienna; beginning 1970 distinguished professor of logotherapy, U.S. International University. Visiting professor, Harvard University, 1961, Southern Methodist University, 1961, 1966, Stanford University, 1971-72, and Duquesne University, 1972; guest lecturer at more than a hundred colleges and universities in the United States as well as in Australia, Asia, and Africa. Awards: Austrian State Prize for Public Education, 1956; honors from Religion in Education Foundation, 1960, and Indianapolis Pastoral Counseling Center; founders award, West Virginia Wesleyan College, 1968; Austrian Cross of Honor first class for science and art, 1969; distinguished lecturer award, Washington College, 1970; City of Vienna prize for scientific achievement, 1970; honorary citizen of Austin, Texas, 1976; Quest Medal, St. Edward's University, 1976; plaque of appreciation, University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas, 1976; American Psychiatric Association Oskar Pfister prize. Honorary degrees (selection): LL. D., Loyola University and Edgecliff College, both in 1970; D.H.L., Rockford College, 1972. Died: 2 September 1997.



Was nicht in meinen Büchern steht: Lebenserinnerungen. 1995; as Viktor Frankl—Recollections: An Autobiography, 1997.


Synchronisation in Buchenwald: A Metaphysical Conference (translation of the 1945 original). 1978.

Other (psychology)

Ärztliche Seelsorge. 1946; as The Doctor and the Soul: An Introduction to Logotherapy, 1955; revised edition, as The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy , 1965.

Ein Psycholog erlebt das Konzentrationslager. 1946; as From Death-Camp to Existentialism: A Psychiatrist's Path to a New Therapy, 1959; revised edition, as Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy, 1963.

Trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen: Drei Vorträge. 1946.

Die Psychotherapie in der Praxis: Eine kasuistische Einführung für Ärzte. 1947.

Die Existenzanalyse und die Probleme der Zeit. 1947.

Zeit und Verantwortung. 1947.

Der umbewusste Gott. 1948; as The Unconscious God: Psychotherapy and Theology, 1975; revised edition, as Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning, 1997.

Der unbedingte Mensch: Metaklinische Vorlesungen. 1949.

Homo patiens: Versuch einer Pathodizee. 1950.

Logos und Existenz. Drei Vorträge. 1951.

Die Psychotherapie im Alltag: Sieben Radiovorträge. 1952.

Pathologie des Zeitgeistes: Rundfunkvorträge über Seelenheilkunde. 1955; as Psychotherapie für jedermann, 1971; as Psychotherapie für den Laien, 1971.

Theorie und Therapie der Neurosen; Einführung in Logotherapie und Existenzanalyse. 1956.

Das Menschenbild der Seelenheilkunde: Drei Vorlesungen zur Kritik des dynamischen Psychologismus. 1959; as Der Mensch auf der Suche nach Sinn: Zur Rehumanisierung der Psychotherapie, 1972.

Psychotherapy and Existentialism: Selected Papers on Logotherapy, with James C. Crumbaugh, Hans O. Gerz, and Leonard T. Maholick. 1967; revised edition, 1973.

The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications to Logotherapy. 1969; revised edition, 1988.

Der Wille zum Sinn: Ausgewählte Vorträge über Logotherapie. 1972.

Anthropologische Grundlagen der Psychotherapie. 1975.

Das Leiden am sinnlosen Leben: Psychotherapie für heute. 1977.

The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism. 1978.

Der Mensch vor der Frage nach dem Sinn: Eine Auswahl aus dem Gesamtwerk. 1979.

Logotherapie und Existenzanalyse: Texte aus fünf Jahrzehnten. 1987; revised edition, as Texte aus sechs Jahrzehnten, 1994.

Editor, with Victor E. Freiherr Gebsattel and J.H. Schultz,Handbuch der Neurosenlehre und Psychotherapie (5 volumes). 1957-61.


Film Adaptation:

Frankl and the Search for Meaning, 1973.

Audiocassette Adaptation:

Meaninglessness: Today's Dilemma, 1971.

Critical Studies:

The Pursuit of Meaning: Logotherapy Applied to Life by Joseph B. Fabry, 1968, revised edition, as The Pursuit of Meaning: Viktor Frankl, Logotheraphy, and Life, 1980; Viktor E. Frankl: Life with Meaning by William Blair Gould, 1993; "Meaning and Love in Viktor Frankl's Writing: Reports from the Holocaust" by J.B. Gerwood, in Psychol Rep (Psychological Reports ), December 1994, 75(3), pt. 1, pp. 1075-81; "The Missing Pieces of the Puzzle: A Reflection on the Odd Career of Viktor Frankl," in Journal of Contemporary History, 35(2), 2000, pp. 281-306, and "Viktor Frankl and the Genesis of the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy," in The Psychoanalytic Review, 88(2), 2001, pp. 311-34, both by Timothy Pytell; When Life Calls Out to Us: The Love and Lifework of Viktor and Elly Frankl by Haddon Klingberg, 2001.

* * *

Viktor E. Frankl is known both as an eminent psychoanalyst and a highly prolific writer. Frankl's articles and books concern logotherapy, an area of existential analysis that he pioneered and through which he successfully bridged the gap between psychology, philosophy, and religion. His writings, however, extend beyond general explication of theoretical ideas and case studies. In essence all of his writings are autobiographical. Through his writings one can trace the developing threads of his beliefs, ideas, and personal growth over time. The Holocaust clearly had a major impact on Frankl's development as a person and as an analyst. One can get an intimate glimpse into this development by reading his book Man's Search for Meaning.

Man's Search for Meaning is undoubtedly Frankl's best known work. At the time of Frankl's death the book had been translated into more than two dozen languages and had sold more than 10 million copies. In this text Frankl provides a moving account of his experiences in the concentration camps of Nazi-occupied Europe and an introduction to logotherapy. His basic ideas, while shaped by the Holocaust and his experiences in the camps, can be found in his early writings and presentations. While still a teen Frankl gave a public lecture on the meaning of life, began publishing in psychoanalytic journals, and established professional relationships with Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. Frankl's publications and professional relations continued during his early twenties with work focusing on the interrelationship between psychotherapy and philosophy, meaning and values, and logotherapy. Thus, while many consider Man's Search for Meaning as Frankl's beginning work, it represents rather an extension of his previous writings. Clearly his experiences during the Holocaust further shaped his ideas, but these ideas did not evolve solely from this time.

Frankl was already an experienced and highly respected doctor of neurology and psychiatry at the time of the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany. So well known and respected was Frankl that he was granted an immigration visa to the United States. Frankl chose, however, to let his immigration visa go unused rather than leave his aging parents. He continued his professional activities until he and his family were deported to Theresienstadt in 1942. Prior to his deportation he served as director of the Neurological Department of the Rothschild Hospital. In that capacity he routinely falsified diagnosis in an effort to protect his patients from the Nazi policies concerning euthanasia of the mentally ill. His actions exemplified the values apparent in his later writings.

Prior to his initial deportation in 1942 Frankl had begun work on his first book, The Doctor and the Soul. Unfortunately the manuscript was destroyed upon his arrival at Auschwitz. From initial deportation until liberation Frankl was interned in four camps: Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and two subcamps of Dachau—Kaufering and Tuerkheim. Frankl's experiences in these camps confirmed and solidified his existential beliefs and ideas. As Gordon Allport wrote in his preface to Man's Search for Meaning : "Frankl is fond of quoting Nietzsche, saying, 'He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how."' Prior to his liberation Frankl was struck with typhoid fever and worked to avoid falling into a fatal sleep by attempting to reconstruct his manuscript. Over a period of nine days in 1946 Frankl dictated the entire text of Ein Psycholog erlebt das Konzentrationslager, a work translated into English as Man's Search for Meaning. It should also be noted that upon liberation Frankl discovered that his wife, whom he married shortly before deportation in 1942, his parents, and his brother were all killed during the Holocaust.

While receiving critical acclaim Frankl's writings and response to the Holocaust have not escaped criticism. Frankl avoided the word Jew and references to himself as a Jew in Man's Search for Meaning. He preferred to focus on the actions of individuals as opposed to the actions and status of particular groups. Frankl's focus is problematic for those who define the Holocaust principally as the intentional destruction of European Jewry as well as for those who characterize the Holocaust as a unique form of inexplicable evil. Frankl also was criticized for holding a position of reconciliation following the Holocaust, a position that he exemplified through his own return to native Vienna following liberation.

Man's Search for Meaning is part of an extensive collection of writings by Frankl. If he had elected to leave Austria following the Anschluss, he would still have made significant contributions to psychology and psychoanalysis by bridging the gap between the psychological and the spiritual. Man's Search for Meaning not only makes a significant contribution to this body of literature but perhaps more importantly increases our understanding of life in the Nazi concentration camps and the value of finding life's meaning even during suffering.

—Linda M. Woolf

See the essay on Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy.

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Frankl, Viktor E(mil)

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