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Viktor E. Frankl


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Viktor Emil Frankl (26 March 1905 – 2 September 1997) was an Austrian psychiatrist who founded logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy that describes a search for treating life's meaning as the central human motivational force. Logotherapy is part of existential and humanistic psychology theories.

Logotherapy was promoted as the third school of Viennese Psychotherapy after those established by Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. Frankl published 39 books. He was a Holocaust survivor. The autobiographical Man's Search for Meaning, a best-selling book, is based on his experiences in various Nazi concentration camps.

After earning his M.D. in 1930, Frankl gained extensive experience at Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital, where he was responsible for Man's suicidal women. In 1937, he began a private practice, but the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938 limited his opportunity to treat patients. In 1940, he joined Rothschild Hospital, the only hospital in Vienna still admitting Jews, as head of the neurology department. Before his deportation to the concentration camps, he helped numerous patients avoid the Nazi euthanasia program that targeted the mentally disabled.

As head of the Neurological Department at the general Polyclinic Hospital, Frankl wrote Man's Search for Meaning over nine days. The book, titled initially A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp, was released in German in 1946. The English translation of Man's Search for Meaning was published in 1959 and became an international bestseller.

Frankl saw this success as a symptom of the "mass neurosis of modern times" since the title promised to deal with the question of life's meaningfulness. Millions of copies were sold in dozens of languages. In a 1991 survey conducted for the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club, Man's Search for Meaning was named one of the ten most influential books in the U.S.

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Man's Search for Meaning