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Viktor Frankl

When he was moved to Auschwitz, his manuscript for The Doctor and the Soul was discovered and destroyed.  His desire to complete his work, and his  hopes that he would be reunited with his wife and family someday, kept him from losing hope in what seemed otherwise a hopeless situation.

After two more moves to two more camps, Frankl finally succumbed to typhoid fever.  He kept himself awake by reconstructing his manuscript on stolen slips of paper.  In April of 1945, Frankl's camp was liberated, and he returned to Vienna, only to discover the deaths of his loved ones.  Although nearly broken and very much alone in the world, he was given the position of director of the Vienna Neurological Policlinic -- a position he would hold for 25 years.

He finally reconstructed his book and published it, earning him a teaching appointment at the University of Vienna Medical School.  In only 9 days, he dictated another book, which would become Man's Search for Meaning.  Before he died, it sold over nine million copies, five million in the U.S. alone!

During this period, he met a young operating room assistant named Eleonore Schwindt -- 'Elly' -- and fell in love at first sight.  Although half his age, he credited her with giving him the courage to reestablish  himself in the world.  They married in 1947, and had a daughter, Gabriele, in December of that year.

In 1948, Frankl received his Ph.D. in philosophy.  His dissertation -- The Unconscious God -- was an examination of the relation of psychology and religion.  That same year, he was made associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna.  In 1950, he founded and became president of the Austrian Medical Society for Psychotherapy.

After being promoted to full professor, he became increasingly well known in circles outside Vienna.  His guest professorships, honorary doctorates, and awards are too many to list here but include the Oskar Pfister Prize by the American Society of Psychiatry and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Frankl continued to teach at the University of Vienna until 1990, when he was 85.  It should be noted that he was a vigorous mountain climber and earned his airplane pilot's license when he was 67!

In 1992, friends and family members established the Viktor Frankl Institute in his honor.  In 1995, he finished his autobiography, and in 1997, he published his final work, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning, based on his doctoral dissertation.  He has 32 books to his name, and they have been translated into 27 languages.

Viktor Emil Frankl died on September 2, 1997, of heart failure.  He is survived by his wife Eleonore, his daughter Dr. Gabriele Frankl-Vesely, his grandchildren Katharina and Alexander, and his great-granddaughter Anna Viktoria.  His impact on psychology and psychiatry will be felt for centuries to come. 

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