Neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor are three of the terms that could have been used to describe Viktor Frankl. The founder of logotherapy, the driving force of one’s life, was born to Jewish parents and under Nazi imprisonment during World War II. Interested in psychology from a young age, he was not allowed to treat any of the Aryan patients due to his Jewish identity, but ended up working in the concentration camps as a practitioner in a Nazi ghetto. Later in life, having survived the holocaust, Frankl continued to live and practice in Vienna, Austria. This was especially significant for Frankl in his quest to understand the drive for human existence given that he spent three years of his life witnessing some of the most inhumane and dehumanizing events transpire in human history.
The experiences Frankl undertook as a concentration camp prisoner helped develop his profession from the experience of witnessing pure evil in front of his own eyes. Even with the amount of suffering taking place all around him, he helped people undertake the will to want to survive and see a better day. The three principles under logotherapy were to find life’s meaning even in miserable situations, to find one’s will in finding this meaning of life and to take into account the freedoms we do have to find this will for survival. This therapy has been used to help treat the clinically depressed, the overly anxious, schizophrenics, obsessive compulsive disorder and the terminally ill.
Frankl’s existential views helped bring logotherapy to the forefront of science in the late 1940’s. The main correlation of existentialism is that humans are not alone in the world because they feel the need to have human connected interactions; a way to have meaning or to validate their existence. This gives humans the freedom to choose and embrace the path they draw for themselves. Existentialists connect their human ties and communication through the physical, social, psychological and spiritual world that surrounds them every day. As people learn to connect to their environment, they will realize that the freedom of their individual choice will determine their life’s development. Only the individual can be the catalyst for change in their own life both philosophically and literally.
Although Frankl passed away in 1997, his legacy lives on as a proponent for the why of life. In order to fully grasp what it is that our life’s purpose is, logotherapy continues to serve as an excellent tool for the continuation of mankind. As a life’s purpose is determined, logotherapy is there to guide that internal determination for betterment.
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