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Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl

The founder of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis, Victor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist. Also a survivor of the Holocaust, Frankl belonged to the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy.

Viktor Frankl was born into a Jewish family on March 26, 1905. With an early interest in psychology, some of Victor’s earliest works include a paper about the psychology of philosophical thinking which he wrote for the final exam in Gymnasium. Frankl studied medicine at the University of Vienna later specializing in psychiatry and neurology focusing on studies of suicide and depression. While in medical school, Frankl organized and offered a special program to counsel high school students free of charge. As a result of this popular program, not a single student in Vienna committed suicide.

After completing his residency in Neurology and Psychiatry at the Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital in Vienna, Frankl became responsible for the Selbstmörderpavillon where he treated over 30,000 women prone to suicide. He established his own private practice in Psychiatry and Neurology in 1937. Viktor Frankl was deported to the Nazi Theresienstadt Ghetto on September 25, 1942 along with his parents and wife. Here Frankl worked as a general practitioner and was later assigned to the psychiatric care ward. Becoming the head of Neurology and Psychiatry clinic, Frankl established a successful camp for mental health care.

On October 19, 1944, Frankl and his wife were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp moving on to a Nazi concentration camp called Kaufering where he spent five months as a slave laborer. He moved to camp Türkheim in March where he worked as a doctor before finally being liberated by the Americans on April 27, 1945. Frankl lost all his immediate relatives including his wife, mother and brother to the Holocaust.

Having spent three years in concentration campts, Viktor Frankl returned to Vienna in 1945. It was during this time that Frankl wrote his most famous book Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe Erlebt das Konzentrationslager, known in English by the title Man’s Search for Meaning (1959). The book revolved around the life on an ordinary concentration camp inmate from the eyes of a psychiatrist. Carefully and deeply analyzing the suffering of other people and himself in the camps, Viktor Frankl concluded that even suffering is meaningful despite the most painful and absurd situations. His experiences have overtime shaped the therapeutic approach and philosophical outlook of many people who have read his works.

In 1946, Frankl began running the Vienna Polyclinic of Neurology where he remained till 1971. 1n 1955, Frankl became a visiting professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna, In addition this, Frankl also resided at Harvard University (1961), Southern Methodist University, Dallas (1966), and Duquesne University, Pittsburgh (1972). Viktor Frankl spent a lot of time lecturing and conducting seminars all over the world and wrote and published more than 32 books. He has also been awarded 29 honorary degrees. For his significant contributions to religion and psychiatry, Frankl was awarded the Oskar Pfister Award in 1985.

A heart failure caused the death of Viktor Frankl on September 2, 1997.

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