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Pytell, T.E. (2001). Viktor Frankl and the Genesis Of The Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy. Psychoanal. Rev., 88(2):311-334.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Review, 88(2):311-334

Viktor Frankl and the Genesis Of The Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy

Timothy E. Pytell, Ph.D.

Viktor Frankl was born on March 26, 1905, in Vienna, and he died there on September 2, 1997. Frankl wrote the highly acclaimed Holocaust testimony Man's Search for Meaning, and he is also widely known as the founder of his own school of psychotherapy—logotherapy. Logotherapy is a form of existential psychotherapy that Frankl (1984) conceived of as “therapy through meaning” (p. 101). As the proclaimed successor to Freud's psychoanalysis and Adler's individual psychology, Frankl (1995) promoted logotherapy as the “third Viennese school of psychotherapy” (p. 44). This article describes the genesis of logotherapy from 1918-1938 by examining Frankl's intellectual development from Freud to Adler and finally to the Göring Institute.

Most of what we know about Frankl's initial intellectual interests is culled from his 1995 autobiography, Was nicht in meinen Büchern steht. As the Great War ended, Frankl described how he studied the natural philosophy of Wilhelm Ostwald and Gustav Theodor Fechner. This led to a school paper titled “We and the World Process,” which argued that there must be a universal balancing principle both in the microcosm and macrocosm. At this point, still a teenager, Frankl became interested in experimental and applied psychology. In his explorations he began taking evening classes at the adult education school from two of Freud's disciples, Paul Schilder and Eduard Hitschmann. In these classes Frankl (1973) discovered the works of Freud and Max Scheler. He also gave his first public lecture, and the subject was the meaning of life.

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