Viktor Frankl An introduction

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Viktor Frankl

Early Life

  • In 1905, Frankl was born in Vienna into a Jewish family of civil servants. His interest in psychology and philosophy emerged early.

  • In 1924 he created a special program to counsel students during the time they were to receive their grades. During his tenure, not a single Viennese student committed suicide.

Early Career

  • From 1933 to 1937 he headed the "suicide pavilion" of the General Hospital in Vienna. Here, he treated over 30,000 women prone to suicide.

  • Starting in 1938, he was prohibited from treating Aryan patients due to his Jewish ethnicity.

  • Later worked as a brain surgeon.


  • On September 25, 1942 he, along with his wife, and his parents were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp

  • Worked there as General Practitioner and set up a suicide watch for prisoners.

  • Gave lectures on mental and physical health, and set up clinics and psychiatric care wards.

  • Transported to Auschwitz and then Türkheim in October, 1944.


  • On April 27, 1945, Frankl was liberated by the Americans.

  • He returned to Vienna and wrote Man’s Search for Meaning in 1945.

  • Among his immediate relatives, the only survivor was his sister.

  • After publishing 32 books, Frankl died in 1997.

Logotherapy (logos = meaning)

  • It was due to his and others' suffering in these camps that he came to his hallmark conclusion that even in the most absurd, painful and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning and that therefore even suffering is meaningful.

  • If a prisoner felt that he could no longer endure the realities of camp life, he found a way out in his mental life – an invaluable opportunity to dwell in the spiritual domain, the one that the SS were unable to destroy. Spiritual life strengthened the prisoner, helped him adapt, and thereby improved his chances of survival.”

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