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Viktor Frankl

Viktor Emil Frankl, M.D., Ph.D., (March 26, 1905 - September 2, 1997) was a Vienna-born neurologist and psychiatrist. Frankl was the founder of logotherapy and Existential Analysis , the "Third Viennese School" of psychotherapy. His book Man's Search for Meaning (first published in 1946) chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live. He was one of the key figures of the existential approach in psychotherapy.



The Nazis deported him to the concentration camps of Theresienstadt and later Auschwitz and Kaufering/Landsberg during the Holocaust in World War II because he was a Jew. In Theresienstadt, he worked as a general practitioner in a clinic until his skill in psychiatry was noticed and he was asked to establish a special unit to help newcomers to the camp overcome the shock. He later set up a suicide watch unit, and all intimations of suicide were reported to him. To maintain his own sanity in the dismal conditions, he would frequently march outside and deliver a lecture to an imaginary audience about "Psychotherapeutic Experiences in a Concentration Camp."

Frankl survived the Holocaust, but nearly all his family was murdered. It was due to his (and others') suffering in these camps that he came to the conclusion that everybody needs a strong goal in life to overcome the worst tidal waves of faith.

He often said that even within the narrow boundaries of the concentration camps he got to know only two kinds of men: decent and non-decent ones.

Frankl once recommended the Statue of Liberty be complemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast.


  • Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.
  • We must remain aware of the fact that as long as absolute truth is not accessible to us (and it never will be), relative truths have to function as mutual correctives. Approaching the one truth from various sides, sometimes even in opposite directions, we cannot attain it, but we may at least encircle it.


  • Viktor E. Frankl; Man's Search for Meaning; Washington Square Press; ISBN 0-67102-3373 (Softcover, December 1997)

External links

  • [1] Frankl Biography and Theories
  • [2] Vienna University
  • [3] Shippensburg University

Last updated: 08-10-2005 22:25:07
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