THE DOOLEY GROUP
• Leadership Learning Forum
• Friday, February 21, 2014
• Susan Pateros and Nick Kosanovich
Viktor Frankl was born in 1905 in Vienna into a family of
Jewish civil servants. At the time of his birth, Vienna
was the cultural, artistic, and medical nexus of AustriaHungary.
Viktor was the second child of
Gabriel and Elsa Frankl. His father
was a Director in the Ministry of
Social Service. From a young age,
he told his parents that he wanted
to be a doctor and he never
wavered from that dream.
As a 16 year old, Frankl gave his first public lecture
entitled “On the Meaning of Life.” A year later, he began
a correspondence with Sigmund Freud, who was 65 at
the time and had created the practice of psychoanalysis
at the end of the 19th century.
Viktor studied medicine at the University of Vienna.
In 1930, while a medical student, he organized and
conducted a free counseling program for high
school students. The success of the program was
proved in 1931 when no Viennese high school
student committed suicide for the first time in years.
From 1933 to 1937, Frankl completed his residency
in neurology and psychiatry at the Steinhof
Psychiatric Hospital in Vienna.
After the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938, Frankl
was prohibited from treating “Aryan” patients
because of his Jewish identity. In 1940, he became
the head of the Neurological Department of
Rothschild Hospital, which was the only hospital in
Vienna still allowed to admit Jewish patients.
Viktor and Tilly,
along with Viktor‟s
parents, are sent to
Stella had escaped
Viktor‟s brother and
trying to escape via
After six months in
Viktor‟s father dies.
Viktor is transported to
Auschwitz. He is unaware
of the whereabouts of his
mother, wife, brother and
KAUFERING AND TURKHEIM
In his last camp, Viktor
contracts typhus. To fight
off a fatal collapse, he
reconstructs on slips of
paper the book
manuscript that he had to
surrender upon his arrival
“Has all this suffering, this dying around us, a
meaning? For, if not, then ultimately there is
no meaning to survival…”
Man’s Search for Meaning
On April 27, 1945, the Kaufering camp was
liberated by U.S. troops. In August Frankl
returned to Vienna, where he learned within a
span of a few days about the death of his wife in
the Bergen-Belsen camp from either illness or
starvation, and the murders at Auschwitz of his
mother, brother, and sister-in-law.
Within a year of returning to
Vienna, in the span of nine
days, Frankl wrote Ein
Psycholog erlebt das
Psychologist Experiences the
Concentration Camp). It was
published in Germany in 1946.
The first part of the book chronicles Viktor Frankl‟s experiences in the
concentration camps as illustrative of the principles he sets forth in the second
part of the book, which
Logotherapy becomes known as the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy. Its
basic tenet is that man‟s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life.
Logotherapy therefore regards its assignment as that of assisting the patient to
find meaning in his life. Meaning can be achieved in three ways: by creating a
work or doing a deed; by experiencing something or encountering someone; or by
the attitude one takes toward unavoidable suffering.
first published in
1959 as Man’s
Viktor remained in Vienna after the war and became
director of the Vienna Neurological Policlinic, a post he
held for 25 years.
• 1947-married Eleonore Schwindt and in December of
that year their daughter Gabriele was born.
• 1948-obtained his PhD
• 1955-promoted to Professor at University of Vienna
and begins guest professorships at overseas
• 1961-guest Professor at Harvard University
• 1966-published The Will to Meaning in English
• 1972-guest Professor at Duquesne University
• 1988-gave a widely noted public address in Vienna
on the Memorial Day commemorating the 50th year
after the invasion by Hitler‟s troops
• 1992-the Viktor Frankl Institute is founded in Vienna
• 1997-the English translation of Frankl‟s autobiography is
published; Frankl‟s last book Man’s Search for Ultimate
Meaning is published; Frankl dies on September 2
Viktor Frankl received 29 honorary doctorates from universities all over the world.
He wrote over 30 books and became the first non-American to be awarded the American Psychiatric
Association‟s prestigious Oskar Pfister Prize.
The Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy publishes semi-annually The International Forum for
Logotherapy, the world‟s leading peer-reviewed scholarly journal on Logotherapy. The Institute also
sponsors the biennial World Congress on Viktor Frankl‟s Logotherapy.
VIDEO OF VIKTOR FRANKL
• 5:18 minutes start point
• “Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are
going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it
only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause
greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than
oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it
happen by not caring about it.“
•“… when all else has been taken away,
man still has his last freedom -- the
freedom to "choose one's attitude in a
given set of circumstances.”
ALWAYS THINK POSITIVE
• There is the idea that a man can overcome his circumstances through his attitude
• Have a „why‟ to live and there is almost always a „how‟ to live
• Choose laughter and a sense of humor more than anything else
• It can help us rise above any situation
• Take the high road
• Viktor made “friends” with the guards that helped his survival
• Could have openly showed his hatred
WE HAVE IT GOOD
• Someone always has it worse than us
• Need to be more grateful for what we have
• Survive the bottom and will rise to the top
LIFE OUT OF OUR CONTROL
• We cannot always direct exactly where our lives go
• Sometimes we are thrown on a path that doesn‟t allow us to choose exactly what we
want to do
• In these circumstances, approach them with the best attitude possible and you will come
out a stronger person, heading in a direction that you are happier with
• Any points you disagreed with?
• Anything you didn‟t like?