Viktor E Frankl (1905 – 1997)

Viktor Frankl, the world-renowned neurologist, philosopher, and psychiatrist, was born in Vienna, Austria, on March 26th, 1905.

The middle of three children, and by junior high, his interest in psychology blossomed - he began taking night classes and, as a teenager, corresponded with Sigmund Freud, a fellow Austrian, fifty years Frankl's senior.
After high school, Frankl studied medicine at the University of Vienna and began to refine his theory that human beings were motivated most by meaning - a school of thought he termed logotherapy.

In 1941 Frankl married Tilly Grosser. Just nine months later, on September 25th, 1942, Frankl and his family, including his wife, parents, and brother, were arrested by the Nazis and moved to the Theresienstadt Ghetto. His father died within six months. Over the next three years, he was moved to four concentration camps, including Auschwitz, where his mother and brother died. His wife died at Bergen-Belsen. Frankl used his experience working with youth and women preventing suicide to counsel other prisoners and himself. During his time in the concentration camps, he found that people who devoted their time and energy to helping others were less likely to lose hope, even when facing tremendous adversity. Using this idea, he further developed his theory of logotherapy - one translation of 'Logos' in Greek is 'meaning' - denoting that the primary motivational force of an individual is to find meaning in life. He spent two and a half years in the camps. Only his sister Stella survived, escaping to Australia.

After the war, Frankl returned to Vienna, where he wrote Man's Search For Meaning over 9 days. It was published anonymously in German in 1946 and titled A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp. The English translation was released in 1959, and in 1991 the U.S. Library of Congress listed it as one of the ten Most Influential books.

In 1947 Frankl married Eleonore "Elly" Katharina Schwindt, and the couple had a daughter, Gabriele, that year. Gabriele later became a child psychologist. Frankl received his doctorate in philosophy in 1948 at the University of Vienna, where he also taught until 1990. He died of heart failure on September 2nd, 1997, in Vienna.

Other Viktor Frankl books translated into English include The Doctor and The Soul (1955), Psychotherapy and Existentialism (1967), The Unconscious God (1975), The Will to Meaning: Foundation and Applications of Logotherapy (1988), Man's Search For Ultimate Meaning (1997), The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism (2011), On the Theory and Therapy of Mental Disorders: An Introduction to Logotherapy and Existential Analysis (2004), Viktor Frankl Recollections: An Autobiography (2000), Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything (2020).

Books by Viktor E Frankl