Brief Biography of Proponent
VIKTOR FRANKL (1905–1997) was born and educated in Vienna. He founded the Youth Advisement Centerst here in 1928 and directed them until 1938. From 1942 to 1945 Frankl was a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Dachau, where his parents, brother, wife, and children died. He vividly remembered his horrible experiences in these camps, yet he was able to use them in a constructive way and did not allow them to dampen his love and enthusiasm for life. He traveled all around the world, giving lectures in Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the United States.
Frankl received his MD in 1930 and his PhD in philosophy in 1949, both from the University of Vienna. He became an associate professor at the University of Vienna and later was a distinguished speaker at the United States International University in San Diego. He was a visiting professor at Harvard, Stanford, and Southern Methodist universities. Frankl’s works have been translated into more than 20 languages, and his ideas continue to have a major impact on the development of existential therapy. His compelling book Man’s Search for Meaning (1963), which was originally entitled From Death Camp to Existentialism, has been a best-seller around the world.
Although Frankl had begun to develop an existential approach to clinical practice before his grim years in the Nazi death camps, his experiences there confirmed his views. Frankl (1963) observed and personally experienced the truths expressed by existential philosophers and writers, including the view that love is the highest goal to which humans can aspire and that our salvation is through love. That we have choices in every situation is another notion confirmed by his experiences in the concentration camps. Even in terrible situations, he believed, we could preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom and independence of mind. He learned experientially that everything could be taken from a person except one...