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Early Life

When he was 13, Frankl decided he would enter the medical profession. Aged 15, Frankl discovered the science of psychology and began attending public lectures on the subject. When he was 16 he gave his first lecture “on the meaning of life”. He became drawn to psychoanalysis and began corresponding with Sigmund Freud, who encouraged the youth’s interest. At 19, Frankl published his first article at Freud’s request, in The International Journal of Psychoanalysis (Pattakos, 2007)


In 1924 Frankl started his medical studies in the University of Vienna. He obtained his medical degree in 1930 and began training in psychiatry and neurology. Later, he was in charge of a psychiatric hospital ward for suicidal women, and in 1937 he was writing for international journals on what he called “logotherapy”-healing through meaning (Cooper, 2003).
In March 1938 Hitler’s forces invaded Austria and in 1942 Frankl and his family were deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp near Prague. Over the following years he was transferred to a number of different concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau, and finally, at Türkheim. In theses camps Frankl learned a great deal more about an individual's search for meaning in their lives, as he observed and helped fellow-prisoners through their traumatic experience.

Later Life

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Frankl survived the camps and when the war ended he returned to Vienna where he became the director of the Vienna Neurological Policlinic, a job which he filled for 25 years. He was also a professor of psychiatry and neurology in Vienna, where he taught until he was eighty five.
Through his lifetime, Frankl received twenty-nine honorary doctorates and wrote thirty two books. His book "Man's Search for Meaning" is considered one of the most influential books of all time. The Viktor Frankl Institute was established in Vienna in 1992, which is a centre dedicated to research and training in Logotherapy and Existential Analysis. On September 2nd 1997, Viktor Frankl died peacefully, at the age of 92 (Pattakos,2007).

This clip illustrates the transition between pre and post war life for Frankl through a series of images.



Official Page of the Viktor Frankl Institute: