Viktor Frankl was born in Leopoldstadt, Vienna, Austria on March 26, 1905. He
studied medicine at the University of Vienna, focusing on neurology and
psychiatry, and particularly the topics of depression and suicide.
He went on to
become a psychiatrist and neurologist.
His early work was influenced by
Alfred Adler and Sigmund Freud, but he later developed his own distinct opinions
as well as his own psychotherapy which he called Logotherapy. This particular
brand of psychotherapy is still taught around the world today.
president of Sozialistische Mittelschüler Österreich Frankl (a pan-Austrian
Social Democratic youth movement for high school students) counseled students in
1924. He held a positive influence with these students during his tenure. The
success rate is in the fact that, as opposed to previous years, not a single
student committed suicide while he was there. This is where a lot of his
personal development advice began and his self improvement ideas started to
In 1933-1937, he was the head of the suicide pavilion in a Vienna
hospital treating many suicidal women (around 30,000). However, because he was
Jewish, in 1938, after the Nazi takeover of Austria, they banned him from the
treatment of Aryan patients. Due to this, he began a private practice.
1940, he headed the neurological department in the Rothschild Hospital as a
brain surgeon. The Rothschild Hospital during this time was one of the few still
open in Vienna, which allowed Jews admittance.
As a medical expert he
played a role in saving patients from the Nazi euthanasia program
during which physicians killed
1,000s of people (including infants) whom they "judged incurably sick, by
critical medical examination". One of the arguments the German state used to
promote these murders was the fact that sick people cost money for the state and
thus for all citizens.
In December 1941 Viktor Frankl married a lady
named Tilly Grosser.
During World War II, on September 25, 1942 Viktor
Frankl and his family, including his pregnant wife, were taken by force and sent
to the Theresienstadt Ghetto for Jews (actually a concentration camp, because
10,000s of Jews were murdered there).
In Theresienstadt they had him
working as a general practitioner. When they discovered his psychiatry skills,
they had him set up a practice to help other Jews overcome the horrors of being
in the Ghetto/concentration camp against their will. He headed up a watch unit
for suicide for these people. Anytime someone attempted suicide he and his
assistants knew about it and were there to help. Dr. Frankl life was now shaping
up as tireless work to aid others.
One day in 1943 he and Leo Baeck even
organized an event for the Scientific Society at Theresienstadt where the two
offered a series of open lectures on topics like "Body and Soul
", "Sleep and
", "How to keep my nerves healthy?
" "Medical Care of the
", and more.
Frankl's father, Gabriel, died of pneumonia at
In 1944, Frankl and the rest of his family were
transported to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland, where his mother,
Elsa, was killed by the Nazis in the gas chambers, and his brother, Walter, died
working as a slave laborer in a mine.
Frankl and his wife, Tilly, were
soon separated and sent on to other extermination camps. Tilly died in the
Bergen-Belsen camp, and in fact all of Frankl's family, save one sister who had
escaped by emigrating to Australia, passed away while at the concentration
Frankl himself was transferred to several different camps, and by
April 27, 1945, he found freedom when the Allied forces invaded and liberated
Europe. After the war his only living relative was his sister in Australia.
He attributed his time in the concentration camps for his philosophy of the
meaning of life from even the most horrific suffering situations imaginable. His
personal development ideas as well as his famed Logotherapy solidified during
this time. He had indeed found a life of meaning in the midst of horrific
suffering. He wrote about his account of his experiences and self-help advice in
several books, the most famous of which is called "Man's Search for Meaning"
In 1945, Viktor Frankl returned to Vienna where he wrote his
books and worked as a neurologist at the Vienna Polyclinic (where he stayed
until 1971). He married again in 1947, a Catholic woman name Eleonore Katharina
Schwindt. He had a daughter with Eleonore. He received a professorship with the
University of Vienna in neurology and psychiatry. He became a visiting professor
at Harvard University and throughout the remainder of his life, he received
twenty-nine degrees (honorary doctorates).
Viktor Frankl has over 39
books published and is famed as one of the early and very influential personal
development authors of our time. His biggest notoriety is in Logotherapy, which
translates from the Greek for "word, principal, reason (I heal) therapy".
Frankl died of heart failure on September 2, 1997 at the age of 92. He left
behind his wife, his daughter (who became a child psychologist), 2
granddaughters, and 3 great-grandchildren. And 39 self help books.
Books by Viktor E. Frankl
Viktor E. Frankl heralds as among the early of
the self improvement authors of modern self-help books. His books offer self
improvement advice and personal development tips by encouraging people to expand
their thinking by encompassing the real meaning of life. His self-help ideas
with Logotherapy ring throughout all of his books and essays.
Frankl wrote 39 books stemming from his experience and education. They are
centred around the following subjects:
• self improvement books
• self help
• inspirational books
• personal development books
Viktor Frankl's Messages in His Books
Because Viktor Frankl went
through such a horrific ordeal during World War II, he adopted a positive
life-giving attitude that not only helped him, but also helped many to go
through difficult times.
His positive attitude and example displays
through his entire life, his professional life as a doctor, his personal life
with his family and in his many accomplishments. Even the chronicles of his life
in the concentration camps are full of positive thinking gems.
his own incredibly moving personal history and his amazingly positive attitude
his chief claim to fame is Logotherapy, which essentially helps others to find
meaning in their life (more on that below).
Books by Viktor Frankl
• "Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy
Search for Meaning" is the memoir of Dr. Viktor Frankl. In this book, he writes
of his experiences in the four Nazi concentration camps he lived between 1942
and 1945, and describes the life of an ordinary concentration camp inmate from
the objective perspective of a psychiatrist.
He talks about how, even
though he lost his entire family, save for one sister, he coped with and found
meaning in the suffering he endured. He learned how to pick himself up and move
on with life, finding a renewed purpose.
The original German title of the
book is "Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe Erlebt das
Konzentrationslager" which translates to "Saying Yes to Life in Spite of
Everything: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp", but it is known
in English by the title "Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to
This incredibly trying time in his life actually
validated Viktor Frankl's Existential Analysis Logotherapy ('the practice of a
life with meaning') which he had first developed before World War 2.
"Man's Search for Meaning" is considered a landmark in self help books. It
exists in twenty-four different languages and has sold over ten million copies.
• "The Feeling of Meaninglessness
In "The Feeling of Meaninglessness"
Viktor Frankl writes about the condition of humans in present times. He shows
that even though the times we are in does more than takes care of our basic
comfortable needs, we are still unfulfilled. Dr. Frankl believes that if we
neglect our existential concerns then we render ourselves unable to live a full
life and are unable to go through the changes that life throws at us. This book
addresses this and offers a guide on bringing meaning back into life.
"On the Theory and Therapy of Mental Disorders: An Introduction to Logotherapy
and Existential Analysis
Logotherapy is a kind of humanistic psychotherapy,
and it is recognized internationally with many schools of psychotherapy. Many
professorships, institutes, and societies view Logotherapy as an important means
of treatment. This book is an essential text in English on Logotherapy.
"Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning
Viktor Frankl's life message was showing
how to find real meaning in life, no matter what goes on around us. He feeds the
human desire for revelation and inspiration by sharing his thoughts of survival
from his imprisonment in the Nazi concentration camps. Through his own
suffering, he birthed new thoughts surrounding life and death and the inspiring
meaning of each.
• "Viktor Frankl - Recollections: An Autobiography
This Viktor Frankl autobiography chronicles his life from his birth, through his
release from the prison camps at the end of World War II. This book proves his
thoughts were bent to the human mind starting when he was an adolescent. He
favored the studies of psychology, choosing psychologist Alfred Adler as his
first mentor. Of course, he and Adler did not agree on everything and Frankl
went on to develop logotherapy to aid mankind in finding the meaning of life.
• "The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy
Frankl displays the principles of his view of existential (from experience)
psychiatry. Dr. Frankl concludes that if mankind searches for real meaning in
life and if that meaning is never found, then he succumbs to phobias. He teaches
that a therapist should guide others to finding their real meaning life.
• "The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy"
Frankl discusses logotherapy in depth by displaying examples of psychotherapy
techniques that he taught with his patients. The Will to Meaning is an expansion
on the section "Logotherapy In a Nutshell" from Man's Search For Meaning.
• "The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism
wrote essays throughout his life. "The Unheard Cry for Meaning" features a
selection of his essays written from 1947-1977. Psychotherapy has a vital role
with human beings. His essays go against pseudo-humanism that others taught for
years. He dives into the potential of each individual while including the works
of Freud and behaviorism in his techniques in texts like these:
Unconscious God: Psychotherapy and Theology
• "Psychotherapy and
Existentialism: Selected Papers on Logotherapy
• "From Death-Camp to
Existentialism: A Psychiatrist's Path to a New Therapy
Plus no less than
• 28 more books in 39 other languages
The Writing Style of
Dr. Frankl's writing style takes on a small twist of
anecdotic where he never uses people's real names, but instead refers to them
with an initial. None the less, his writing focuses on a lot of theory on the
human mind and psychotherapy, and most of his writing surrounds the academic of
his views in his research of the human psyche.
His words flow beautifully
and are easy to read for an educated person, and a person familiar with the era
in which he lived.
Who Reads Viktor Frankl Books?
want to improve their life by exploring the real meaning behind all that happens
and who embraces the positive in every situation are the ones who love to read
books by Viktor Frankl.
Universities all over the world teach his works.
Teachers, educators, and professors read his works, while teaching classes
in psychology, philosophy and other religious and inspirational courses.
In fact, almost anyone who desires self improvement will gravitate to his books.
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