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Viktor Emil Frankl
Victorfrankl

Born
March 26 1905
Vienna
Died
September 2 1997
Vienna

Viktor Emil Frankl, M.D., Ph.D., (March 26, 1905 - September 2, 1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. 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 meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living. He was one of the key figures in existential therapy.

Life before 1945Edit

Frankl was born in Vienna into a Jewish family of civil servants (Beamtenfamilie). His interest for psychology surfaced early. For the final exam (Matura) in Gymnasium, he wrote a paper on the psychology of philosophical thinking. After graduating from Gymnasium in 1923, he studied medicine at the University of Vienna and later specialized in neurology and psychiatry, concentrating on the topics of depression and suicide. He had personal contact with Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler.

Doctor, Therapist Edit

In 1924 he became the president of the Sozialistische Mittelschüler Österreich. In this position he offered a special program to counsel students during the time they were to receive their grades (Zeugnis). During his tenure, not a single Vienese student committed suicide. The success of this program grabbed the attention of the likes of Wilhelm Reich who invited him to Berlin.

From 1933 to 1937 he headed the so-called Selbstmörderpavillon, or "suicide pavilion", of the General Hospital in Vienna. Here, he treated over 30,000 women prone to suicide. Yet, starting in 1938, he was prohibited from treating Aryan patients due to his Jewish ethnicity. He moved into private practice until starting work in 1940 at the Rothschild Hospital, where he headed its neurological department. This hospital, at the time, was the only one in Vienna in which Jews were still admitted. Several times, his medical opinions saved patients from being euthanised via the Nazi euthanasia program. In December 1941 he married Tilly Grosser.

Prisoner, Therapist Edit

In the Autumn of 1942 he, his wife, and his parents were deported to the concentration camp of Theresienstadt. It is here that his father died in 1943. Assisted by Dr. Leo Baeck and Regina Jonas, Frankl worked at the camp as a general medical practitioner, and later, as a counselor to new arrivals and those with suicidal tendencies. Then, in 1944 he was transported to Auschwitz, where his mother died, and later to the Türkheim, a concentration camp not far from Dachau. Meanwhile, his wife had been transfered to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died.

On April 27, 1945, Frankl was liberated. Among his immediate relatives, the only survivor was his sister, who had escaped by emigrating to Australia.

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. This conclusion served as a strong basis for Frankl's later creation of logotherapy.

Life after 1945Edit

1frankl-book

Liberated after three years of life in concentration camps, he returned to Vienna. During 1945 he wrote his world-famous book titled ...trotzdem ja zum Leben sagen (Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager) (literally: "...say yes to life just the same (A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp)", known in English by the title Man's Search for Meaning. In this book, he described the life of an ordinary concentration camp inmate from the objective perspective of a psychiatrist.

In 1946 he was appointed to run the Vienna Poliklinik of Neurologics. He remained there until 1971. In 1947 he married his second wife Eleonore Katharina Schwindt. They gave birth to one daughter, Gabriele. In 1955 he was awarded a professorship of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna, and as visiting professor, he resided at Harvard University.

In the post-war years, Frankl published more than 32 books (many were translated into 10 to 20 languages) and is most notable as the founder of logotherapy. (Logos, λόγος, is Greek for word, reason, principle; therapy, Θεραπεύω, means I heal.) He lectured and taught seminars all over the world and received 29 honorary doctorate degrees.

Frankl died September 2nd, 1997 in Vienna.

MiscellaneousEdit

  • Frankl often said that even within the narrow boundaries of the concentration camps he found only two races of men to exist: decent and non-decent ones. These were to be found in all classes, ethnicities, and groups.
  • Frankl once recommended that the Statue of Liberty on the East coast of the US be complemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West coast.
  • In Theresienstadt concentration camp, he worked as a general practitioner in a clinic until his skill in psychiatry was noticed, when he was asked to establish a special unit to help newcomers to the camp overcome shock and grief. He later set up a suicide watch unit, and all intimations of suicide were reported to him. To maintain his own feeling of being worthy of his sufferings in the dismal conditions, he would frequently march outside and deliver a lecture to an imaginary audience about "Psychotherapeutic Experiences in a Concentration Camp", believing that by fully experiencing the suffering objectively, he would thereby end it.
  • Frankl is thought to have coined the term Sunday Neurosis referring to a form of depression resulting from an awareness in some people of the emptiness of their lives once the working week is over.[1] [2]

BibliographyEdit

  • On the Theory and Therapy of Mental Disorders. An Introduction to Logotherapy and Existential Analysis, Translated by James M. DuBois. Brunner-Routledge, London-New York 2004. ISBN 0-415-95029-5
  • Psychotherapy and Existentialism. Selected Papers on Logotherapy, New York: Simon & Schuster
  • The Will to Meaning. Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy, New York: New American Library, ISBN 0-452-01034-9
  • Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning. (A revised and extended edition of The Unconscious God; with a Foreword by Swanee Hunt). Perseus Book Publishing, New York, 1997; ISBN 0-306-45620-6. Paperback edition: Perseus Book Group; New York, July 2000; ISBN 0-7382-0354-8.

ReferencesEdit

  1. [1]
  2. [2]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


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