“… 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.”

Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl, the world-renowned neurologist, philosopher, and psychiatrist, was born in Vienna, Austria, on March 26th, 1905.

Frankl studied medicine at the University of Vienna and, after graduating, began to refine his concept of ‘logotherapy’ – a school of thought that theorized that the primary motivational force of an individual is to find meaning in life.

In 1942, Frankl and his family, including his new wife Tilly, his parents, and his brother, were all arrested by the Nazis and moved to Theresienstadt Ghetto. Over the next three years, he was forced into four concentration camps, including Auschwitz. His parents, brother, and wife were all killed during this time. He found that people who devoted their time and energy to helping others were less likely to lose hope, even when facing tremendous adversity.

After the war, Frankl returned to Vienna, where he wrote Man’s Search for Meaning over nine days. It was published anonymously in German in 1946 and titled A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp. The English translation was released in 1959. Other Viktor Frankl books translated into English include The Doctor and the Soul (1955), Psychotherapy and Existentialism (1967), The Unconscious God (1975), The Will to Meaning: Foundation and Applications of Logotherapy (1988), Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning (1997), The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism (2011), On the Theory and Therapy of Mental Disorders: An Introduction to Logotherapy and Existential Analysis (2004), Viktor Frankl Recollections: An Autobiography (2000), Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything (2020).

In 1947 Frankl married Eleonore “Elly” Katharina Schwindt, and the couple had a daughter, Gabriele, that year. She later became a child psychologist. Frankl received his doctorate in philosophy in 1948 at the University of Vienna, where he also taught until 1990. He died of heart failure on September 2nd, 1997, in Vienna. 

Lesson From Frankl

If you haven’t, you should read Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s easy to want to write for fame or wealth, but to write to reach across the divide and touch someone’s life, help someone find hope, feel love, feel kindled to fight against injustice – that is purpose.

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