Interview with Dr. Viktor Frankl

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Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) has influenced the lives of many through his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning. The book begins with Frankl’s first hand account of surviving several holocaust concentration camps.  Frankl’s “logotherapy,” stems from his experience, emphasizing that a person’s ultimate freedom does not lie within others hands or situations at large, but within the individual him/her self.  The ultimate choice is one of attitude. On page 104 Frankl says “Everything can be taken from a man but…the last of the human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Frankl, 104)

Frankl’s work has important implications for psychotherapy.  I utilize the book with many of the students I work with.  Students are often struck by the sheer power in Frankl’s story. Many are inspired by his existential approach and contemplate their individual ability to stand into life’s challenges.  Frankl says  “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” I like quote because it highlights that one should first try to change ones “situation.”  This could be as simple as changing ones diet or exercise routine.  For others, their situation is such that it cannot be changed.  Imagine the individual who suffers from paralysis (as Frankl discusses in the interview).  This individual can only change himself.

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