THE FOUNDER OF LOGOTHERAPY
Many know him as the founder of the third Vienna school of Psychotherapy-‘Logotherapy’- first being that of Sigmund Freud and second that of Alfred Adler.
Logotherapy is a kind of existential analysis based on having a purpose or meaning in life. Frankl developed this new philosophy of therapy based on his own and others’ terrible experiences as Jewish prisoners in Hitler’s concentration camps. The therapy also supports Nietzsche’s theory that ‘He who has a why can endure any how’.
Born in 1905 in Vienna, middle among three children, Frankl evinced a lot of interest in Psychology and did his medical studies in this field. He met the iconic Freud and had a lot of interaction with him, though he liked Adler’s theory better. He worked in various capacities in Vienna in the years before Hitler, and even was in charge of a psychiatric ward for suicidal women.
In 1940, when Dr Frankl was the head of the neurological department in Rothschild, a Jewish hospital, he displayed his immense love for humanity when he deliberately made many false diagnoses of mentally ill patients to prevent their being subjected to cruel Euthanasia, as per the prevailing rules. This, among other experiences, prompted him to start writing a great book called ‘The Doctor and the Soul’ in manuscript form.
Everything changed in 1942, within a few years of Hitler invading Austria. His peaceful life was shattered to smithereens when he, along with his young wife, parents and siblings were apprehended and sent to a concentration camp. Over a period of time, the eminent Doctor lost almost everyone of his family in the various concentration camps, like Theresienstadt, Bergen-Belsen and of course Auschwitz.
Everyone except sister Stella, who managed to escape to Australia somehow.
His carefully concealed manuscript-his beloved brainchild- was also snatched from him and destroyed.
It was during this period of mind boggling trauma that the roots of his now-famous logotherapy slowly formed.
Heartbroken about the separation of his loved ones (he knew full details about their fate only in 1945, only after his own freedom.) and loss of his manuscript, he was filled with a resolve to reunite with his people and to create the manuscript again, word by word, from memory.
The twin passionate ‘purposes’ of creating his masterpiece again and the hope of meeting his loved ones again kept him alive even in the worst subhuman conditions. He not only succeeded in re-writing the book destroyed by the Nazis but also created his Magnum Opus work, ‘Man’s search for Meaning’ which became a great bestseller, with over 9 million copies sold.
Dr. Frankl moved on in life to become a very successful therapist, establishing his own school of therapy called ‘Logotherapy’ basing on his personal experiences. He became well known outside Austria too and lived till 1997, earning many awards during his distinguished career.
He wrote 32 books in all, translated into 27 languages.
Based on various online biographies.