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Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl

Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, and holocaust survivor

This person can be called a highly qualified psychotherapist, a pilot who made his first flight in old age, a climber conquering mountain peaks, a kind genius who wrote books that allow you to look at the bustle of life with different eyes, a composer who created music for popular programs, a prisoner who survived in terrible conditions of the concentration camp.

Born in March 1905 in a family of Jews who were civil servants. It happened in Vienna. Victor's childhood and youth passed in the difficult environment of the First World War, economic and political crises, and psychological instability. Early became interested in the psychological aspects of life. His high school diploma work was devoted to the psychology of philosophical thinking. Entering the medical faculty of the University of Vienna, he decided to study psychiatry and neurology. Especially student Frank.

In the late 1920s, a group of like-minded people led by Frankl opened a counseling center in Vienna for depressed youth, which helped to reduce the number of suicides among this segment of the population. In 1930, Victor became an MD, continuing to work in the field of clinical psychiatry. The young specialist tried to make sure that people who asked for help could realize their possibilities to change themselves and the world for the better.

In his work, the psychiatrist often used his own method of paradoxical intention. Its essence was as follows: one should not run away from unpleasant sensations and the circumstances associated with them, but it is necessary to meet them halfway. To get rid of a certain symptom, you need to create a paradoxical intention, in other words, try to do something opposite, from which you need to get rid of.

He believes that the picture of the disease is just a parody of a shadow, a personality. The profession of psychotherapist is a radial search for a humane patient and a spiritual person. Many people who turned to Frankl, who frankly killed that they were not caught in irreparable acts due to their doctorate, listened carefully and talked with them a lot of good things. The military events of the 1940s prevented the publication of the psychiatrist's first manuscript, which he called "Healing the Soul." In it he outlined the fundamentals.

For two years, the psychotherapist continued to work, because he was treated by a Gestapo officer, on whom his fate depended. In 1942, Frankl, his wife and parents were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Even in the most difficult conditions of Nazi captivity, Victor did not lose heart, but worked. In the concentration camp, he provided psychological assistance to prisoners, identified people who had lost the meaning and purpose of life, and sought to help them.

Hellish conditions were able to endure those who lived for something. It was they who were able to challenge the circumstances. Frankl himself managed to survive in 4 concentration camps. After all, he had something to live for. Victor, like the apple of his eye, cherished the handwritten version of the book, which contained the first version of his doctrine of meaning. Unfortunately, it was not possible to save it, but even then he did not lose heart. In a feverish delirium of a typhoid hut, for 16 nights Victor recreated his work, making short shorthand notes in the dark.

Be that as it may, he survived, despite being transferred from one camp to another, getting on the lists of the dead, working with infectious patients, and trying to escape. In any circumstances, he showed "stubbornness of spirit", he knew how to hear the voices of conscience and fate. After the end of the war, Frankl returned to Vienna. Having come to his old friend P. Polog, he told him with tears in his eyes about what he had to experience, about the death of his father, mother, wife. But for all his grief, Victor understood that such tests are not given in vain, but with a certain meaning.

Frankl put his own experience, emotions, experiences as the basis of his book entitled "A Psychologist in a Concentration Camp". He even wanted to print it anonymously, not assuming that someone would be interested in his work. Friends managed to convince Victor to put his name. It so happened that it was this work that became the most famous.

In 1946, Frankl was placed in charge of the neurological clinic in Vienna. A year later, he began teaching at the university, without ceasing to write books. For example, one of them "Man's Search for Meaning" has been translated into more than 20 languages. In 1947 there were changes in his personal life. Victor married the Catholic Eleanor Katharina Schwindt. In the same joint religious traditions, the couple raised their daughter Gabrielle.

In the 1960s, the scientist, who by that time had become a professor of psychiatry and neurology, visited many countries and felt the particular relevance of the problem of the meaning of life. His apex psychology revealed in the human soul those heights to which it is necessary to strive, helped to acquire the courage to live spiritually.

The incredible life of W. Frankl ended in the early autumn of 1997 in his hometown of Vienna.


March 26, 1905
Viktor Frankl was born in Vienna.


Further Resources



David H. Rosmarin
May 6, 2020
Scientific American Blog Network
That emotion is natural in a situation like this, but there are ways to mitigate it
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