• Sheila Wood

Prologue: Viktor Emil Frankl

Viktor Emil Frankl

(26 March 1905 – 2 September 1997)

An Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, important in the field of Existential Analysis

and the founder of Logotherapy which he introduced in 1946 in his most celebrated book “Man’s Search for Meaning”

Viktor Frankl was also a survivor of the Holocaust and through his personal experience in the Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp he developed his ideas that people faced with the most adverse of circumstances, do survive when they have meaning in their lives.

Finding Meaning

For Frankl, meaning seemed to be made possible through,

  • Work, especially when that work is both creative in nature and aligned with a purpose greater than ourselves. 

  • Love, which often manifests itself in the service of others.

  • Suffering, which is fundamental to the human experience.

A Word on Suffering

Frankl states that meaning is found through self-transcendence, that is getting outside the self or rising above self, above your own physical limitations and trying to help others.

Frankl describes suffering as a potential springboard both for having a need for meaning and for finding it.

Therefore man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life: that suffering has a meaning.

Thoughts on Transcendence

Quotes from Frankl

'"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

Image Courtesy of Prof. Dr. Franz Vesely Under Create Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0


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