Birthday: March 26, 1905
Died At Age: 92
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: Viktor Emil Frankl
Born Country: Austria
Born in: Leopoldstadt, Vienna, Austria
Famous as: Psychiatrist
Quotes By Viktor Frankl
Spouse/Ex-: Eleonore Katharina Schwindt (m. 1947), Tilly Grosser
father: Gabriel Frankl
mother: Elsa Frankl
children: Gabriele Frankl-Vesely
Died on: September 2, 1997
place of death: Vienna
Cause of Death: Heart Failure
education: University of Vienna
awards: Ring of Honour of the city
Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Oskar Pfister Award
Who was Viktor Frankl?
Viktor Emil Frankl was a famous psychiatrist and neurologist from Austria. He was also a Holocaust survivor, having survived Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering, and Türkheim. He was the founder of the popular ‘logotherapy’ which is known as the ‘third school’ in the three Viennese schools of psychotherapy. The first two schools were founded by Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, both of whom influenced Viktor significantly during his early career days. He based his theory on the belief that the main motivation of any individual is the search for “meaning in life.” He felt the primary purpose of psychotherapy should be to assist an individual in finding that meaning. He wrote the bestselling book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ which has sold millions of copies worldwide. Over the course of his career, he played an instrumental role in counseling high school students prone to suicides and enabled them to find a purpose for living. In more recent years, Frankl’s work has been subjected to criticism by holocaust analysts who state that his ‘logotherapy’ had a lot of Nazi influence in it. Apart from this, they also doubted he performed unskilled lobotomy experiments on Jews with the Nazi’s permission.
Childhood & Early Life
Viktor Emil Frankl was born on 26th March 1905, to Gabriel Frankl and Elsa Frankl, in Vienna, as the second of three children. He was of Jewish origin. His father was the director in the Ministry of Social Service and hailed from Southern Moravia, while his mother hailed from Prague. His early childhood was poverty-ridden and subjected to various bitter experiences due to the ongoing First World War.
He had an interest in psychology right from his childhood and studied psychology and philosophy as the main subjects in his secondary school. He attended the Gymnasium and graduated in 1923. For his final exam, he wrote a paper on psychology of philosophical thinking. After this, he studied medicine at the University of Vienna.
While in the University of Vienna, he specialized in neurology and psychiatry and focused on depression and suicide as his main topics. His education and growth were seriously influenced by his interactions with Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler.
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Between 1928 and 1930, while still a medical student, he organized multiple programs to counsel high school students free of charge, especially during times when they received their report cards and were more prone to attempt suicide.
In 1933, Frankl became the in-charge of the "Female Suicidals Pavilion" ward in a hospital in Vienna. This ward was dedicated to the treatment of women with suicidal tendencies. He used to treat nearly 3,000 patients in a year. His success in this field encouraged him to start his own practice in neurology and psychiatry in Vienna in 1937.
In 1940, he was made the director of the Neurological Department in the Rothschild Hospital, which was a clinic for Jewish patients. What made this tenure special was that he endangered his own life multiple times by making false diagnoses and sabotaging Nazi protocol, mainly to prevent the euthanasia of mentally-ill patients.
In 1946, he became the director of Vienna Neurological Policlinic. He held this position for 25 years.
In 1948, Frankl received his Ph.D. in philosophy with a long essay on the topic ‘The Unconscious God’. As a result, Frankl was promoted to associate professor in the neurology and psychiatry department at the University of Vienna.
In 1950, Frankl went on to start the ‘Austrian Medical Society for Psychotherapy’ and was made its first president. All his lectures were translated and consolidated into a book titled ‘Homo Patiens. Versuch Einer Pthodizee,’ a publication on how to provide support to suffering people.
Starting from 1954, he gave a series of lectures in various universities in England, Holland, and Argentina. The following year, he was promoted to professor at the University of Vienna.
From 1961, he was asked to be a guest professor in universities such as Harvard and Southern Methodist University.
In 1924, Viktor Frankl published an essay on the topic ‘On the mimic movements of affirmation and negation’ in the ‘International Journal of Psychoanalysis’. The following year, he published the article ‘Psychotherapy and Weltanschauung’ which was published in the ‘International Journal of Individual Psychology.’
He published the book "Ein Psycholog erlebt Das Konzentrationslager" in 1946, which was translated into English and titled ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. This book went on to sell over 12 million copies worldwide.
In 1947, he published ‘Psychotherapie in der praxis’. During the same period, two more books ‘Zeit und Verantwortung’ and ‘Die Existenzanalyse und die probleme der Zeit’ were also published.
He published his autobiography just a few months before his death in 1997. The book was called ‘Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning and Recollections: An Autobiography.’
Family & Personal Life
In 1941, Viktor Frankl married Tilly Grosser. The following year, along with his parents and wife, he was arrested and sent to a concentration camp in Theresienstadt. Multiple tragedies unfolded in the ensuing months and all of his family members, including his wife, were killed during the Holocaust.
In 1947, he married Eleonore Schwindt. They had one daughter named Gabriele.
Frankl died of heart failure on 2nd September 1997 in Vienna. He was 92 years old.