Who/What Influenced Viktor Frankl?

It goes without saying that when one has experienced and survived the horrors of the Concentration Camps during World War II, one cannot but help be influenced greatly by such a gasthly event. Frankl already had a great interest in the meaning of life and all the questions and answers that come with such reflections and by surviving the camps he was able to expand on his theory. In 1938 he published his first foundations of a 'new and original' approach to psychotherapy: Logotherapy/Existential Analysis (LTEA).

Freud & Adler

From an early start Frankl was heavily influenced by the Freudian approach and people such as Eduard Hittschmann and Paul Schilder. In secondary school he corresponded with Sigmund Freud himself for some time but as an undergraduate he soon became wary of Freud's constant approach to life's problems in terms of sexual impulses. Frankl believed people were free to make choices and changes in life, contrary to what Freud believed.

It was through his interest in socialism that Frankl became more interested in Alfred Adler. Adler believed that humans' basic drive was geared towards accomplishment, or "superiority". Channeling this drive towards his or her community was believed to be the foundation for emotional healthy individuals (Hoffman, 1995).


Spiritualism & Religion:

In his book Man's search for Meaning, Frankl describes how spiritualism was a way to 'escape' the concentration camps. The spiritual mind , he found, was something the Nazi's were not able to access and was therefore a way to distance from what was happening around him. Frankl was brought up Jewish but did not practice this religion untill later in life, after the holocaust. It became an important part of his Logotherapy approach.

Who & What did Viktor Frankl Influence?

Theories of Personalities:

One of the most important contributions to theory relating to the 'change of personalities' during the holocaust came from Viktor Frankl and Bruno Bettleheim. Frankl used his experiences in the Concentration Camps as a basis to support his Logotherapy (Adamczyk, 2005). Both men differ in their views of how prison life was experienced for the average prisoner, but both are equally capable of giving researchers an insight of how prison life can be perceived and to what extent personalities change and do not.



Frankl's Logotherapy influenced many works of theologians, such as Karl Rahner. Rahner is considered to have been one of the most important theologian of the 20th century and in his 'transcendental anthropology' one cannot but notice inspirations of Frankl's Logotherapy (Zaiser, 2005).

Frankl also had a great influence on both principles and practice in the field of 'geriatric pastoral care' (Rost, 2000).

Hypnotherapy & Hypnosis:

Even though Frankl did not directly influence hypnotherapy or had anything directly associated with this form of therapy, according to Durbin (2000) Frankl can help the therapist better him/herself by using Frankl's theory.

Rollo May & Gorden Allport:

Existential psychotherapy was introduced in the United States by Rollo May in 1958. May used Frankl's approach to edit the book 'Existential Psychology'. He also compared Bettleheim and Frankl's approaches of survival in the camps and related this to concepts such as 'meaning', 'will' and 'freedom' (Pytell, 2006).

Frankl's contribution to Humanistic Psychology was that the humanistic approach was incorporating insights of both phenomenology and existentialism in order to propagate a 'holistic conception of the self (Pytell, 2006). Humanist Gordon Allportvery much supported Frankl's view on introducing religion in to psychology.

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