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Viktor Frankl (1905–1997)

Author of Man's Search for Meaning

84+ Works 18,933 Members 349 Reviews 30 Favorited

About the Author

Viktor E. Frankl was a man who persevered in living, writing, and helping people, despite suffering for years at the hands of the Nazis. He was born in Vienna on March 26, 1905, and received his doctorate of medicine in 1930. As a psychiatrist, he supervised a ward of suicidal female patients, and show more later became chief of the neurological department at Rothschild Hospital in Vienna. Frankl's successful career was halted temporarily in 1942 when he was deported to a Nazi concentration camp. In Auschwitz and other camps, he witnessed and experienced daily horrors until 1945. Although he survived, his parents and many other family members did not. Returning to Vienna in 1945, he resumed his work, becoming head physician of the neurological department at the Vienna Polyclinic Hospital. Frankl wrote more than 30 books, the most famous being Man's Search For Meaning. As a professor, he taught at many American universities, including Harvard and Stanford. He is credited with the development of logotherapy, a new style of psychotherapy. He died in Vienna in 1997. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Photo © ÖNB/Wien (link)

Works by Viktor Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning (1946) 15,924 copies
The Unconscious God (1975) 257 copies
Sede de Sentido 5 copies
Zeiten der Entscheidung (1996) 2 copies
Livet er mening (2019) 1 copy
Die eine Menschheit (2023) 1 copy

Associated Works

Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith (2010) — Contributor — 143 copies


20th century (38) @others (95) Auschwitz (63) autobiography (158) biography (239) concentration camps (171) ebook (63) existentialism (285) Frankl (77) Germany (39) goodreads (67) history (259) Holocaust (700) inspirational (42) Jewish (53) Judaism (59) Kindle (74) logotherapy (445) meaning (127) meaning of life (65) memoir (335) needs cover (43) non-fiction (872) own (50) philosophy (1,085) psychiatry (96) psychology (1,501) psychotherapy (180) read (121) religion (160) self-help (110) spirituality (219) suffering (69) survival (38) to-read (1,059) Viktor Emil Frankl (138) war (53) WWII (309) ♠♠♥♥♦♦• (106) (119)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Frankl, Viktor
Legal name
Frankl, Viktor Emil
Other names
FRANKL, Viktor Emil
FRANKL, Viktor E.
Date of death
Burial location
Vienna Central Cemetery, Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria
Place of death
Vienna, Austria
Cause of death
heart failure
Places of residence
Vienna, Austria
Theresienstadt concentration camp
University of Vienna (MD|1930|Ph.D|1948)
Holocaust survivor
Vesely, Franz (son-in-law)
פרנקל, ויקטור אמיל
Jonas, Regina (colleague)
University of Vienna
Visiting Professor, Harvard University
General Polyclinic Vienna
Rothschild Hospital
Awards and honors
Great Gold Medal with Star for Services to the Republic of Austria (1995)
Honorary Citizen of the City of Vienna (1995)
Hans Prinzhorn Medal (1995)
Great Silver Medal with Star for Services to the Republic of Austria (1988)
Oskar Pfister Award (1985)
Österreichisches Ehrenzeichen für Wissenschaft und Kunst (1981) (show all 11)
Ehrenring der Stadt Wien (1980)
Donauland Sachbuchpreis Danubius (1976)
Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class (1969)
Cardinal Innitzer Prize (1962)
Promotion Award for Public Education of the Ministry of Education (1956)
Short biography
Victor E. Frankl was born in Vienna, Austria. He studied medicine at the University of Vienna and later specialized in neurology and psychiatry. His early work was influenced by his contacts with Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, although he would later diverge from their teachings. After surviving three years in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, Dr. Frankl returned to Vienna and wrote more than 30 books. He married for the second time to Eleonore Katharina Schwindt (his first wife Tilly Grosser was killed in Bergen-Belsen) and the couple had a daughter. In 1948, he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy with a dissertation on the relationship between psychology and religion. In 1955, he was awarded a professorship of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna, and a visiting professorship at Harvard University. He lectured and taught seminars in many countries around the world.



In the face of profound despair, it can be easy to wonder what the point even is. The Holocaust, of course, is one of the worst events the world has ever seen. Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist living in Austria when Hitler came to power, and like most European Jews, he ended up in a concentration camp. He survived Auschwitz, though, and wrote about how he did so in Man's Search for Meaning. The book is divided roughly in half: in the first, he tells his own story, and in the second, he expounds upon the therapeutic technique he used to make it through, which he calls logotherapy. Essentially, logotherapy consists of finding meaning in one's life, no matter how meaningless it might seem.

Like most Holocaust memoirs, this is difficult to read. Frankl's pre-existing training in psychology is obvious, as he breaks down the ways in which people were psychologically broken upon entering the camps. The procedures used by the Nazis to strip their prisoners of their humanity, their sense of personal dignity and purpose, were brutal and effective. And then, of course, there were the actual physical dangers of the camps: starvation and overwork, which took away strength and energy. For those that did manage to survive, their liberation was not the end of their story. They had to go on to live in the world, and Frankl also talks about the difficulties of re-adjusting to life on the outside.

While not "enjoyable" per se, the portion of the book concerned with Frankl's own experiences is the most compelling and powerful. The actual detailing of logotherpy in the back half of the book feels almost superfluous, because it's both described and demonstrated in how he used it to survive. The more it's described, honestly, the less impact it has...it boils down essentially to the power of positive thinking, to refusing to succumb to the darkness. While it clearly was tremendously important to Frankl, and has surely been helpful to others in their own struggles, it's not all that interesting or novel to read about. If you're looking for a Holocaust memoir with unique psychological insight, this is something you'll really get a lot out of. Just...skip the ending bit.
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ghneumann | 313 other reviews | Jun 14, 2024 |
When you pick a classic book, with as grave theme as this, you are naturally burdened by huge expectations to like it. When book touches as sensitive subject as Holocaust, you are even more compelled to like, and even feel a bit guilty, when you don't. But then, reviews are honest reflections so I write below, with the full understanding that fault may as well be with me to not comprehend the essence of this book.

I am not sure why this is considered a classic on existentialism or motivation? There were only 2 core messages from the book that I could glean: no one has right to do wrong even if wrong had been done to them, and of course the primary message, that none can take away the freedom of attitude to suffering even if everything has been taken from a man, and suffering with honour gives life a meaning, for one should not wonder what he expects from life but what life expects of him.

My two stars to this book are only because of the engaging and horrifying description of unfathomable realities of concentration camps. Else this book should be rated 0 stars.

Given the circumstances the author went through though, the lesson is hardly meaningful, actionable, noble, or unique. In other words, the author is saying that try to be honourable as much as you can, which, while being the right advice, is very much expected under the circumstances, and is the foundation of many religious or moral philosophies. Not losing hope and not taking life because there is some thing or some purpose waiting is of course a desirable strategy, but given what the author himself said in the third stage of prisoners after release, is not really true since many survivors realised that nothing was waiting for them. Turning suffering into sacrifice towards some greater cause may bring a purpose to life but is also a recipe of victimhood mentality.

It's quick read for what's it worth. First section is fast and moving. Second section is skippable or read cursorily.
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ashishg | 313 other reviews | Apr 29, 2024 |
I remember laying on a hotel bed somewhere outside of Santa Fe and reading this book. That was ten years ago and it blew my mind then. A lot has happened since then, both in the world and in my life, but this book has remained as powerful as it ever was. Funny that I've read this book twice now without ever having checked out anything else by Frankl. Maybe that's next
bookonion | 313 other reviews | Mar 9, 2024 |
A powerful and inspiring work on how to find meaning in the life that’s in front of you, how to endure and find meaning even in the worst of suffering. And an introduction to the author’s theory of logotherapy.
Aidan767 | 313 other reviews | Feb 1, 2024 |



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