Viktor Frankl -- An inspirational survivor

by Al Siebert, PhD

THRIVEnet Story of the Month - January 1998

During my senior year in college, Viktor Frankl came to our campus to speak at our weekly student assembly. He was on a national tour promoting his book From Death Camp to Existentialism.

Frankl was short, spirited man, almost elfish. At the assembly he spoke about his life in a death camp during the Holocaust. He told us what the Nazis did to Jews in Europe, his life in the camp, how he coped, what he observed, and how he made notes hidden way on scraps of paper. He said he was inspired by Nietzsche's statement "That which does not kill me makes me stronger." He told us he could see himself, in the future, standing before audiences speaking about what he had learned. He paused for a few moments, appreciating that this very moment with us was what he knew would be happening one day.

A few years later Frankl published a revised edition of his book with a new title, Man's Search For Meaning. This book is now listed by the U.S. Library of Congress as "one of the ten most influential books in America."

Frankl's inspiring example of successful surviving and his way of discovering a positive life purpose in the midst of extreme adversity, planted a seed of awareness in me that, I am sure, influenced my interest in researching the survivor personality.

Man's Search For Meaning is essential reading for anyone interested in resiliency, thriving, and surviving in adversity. Anyone who appreciates Frankl's work will enjoy his autobiography. Frankl was very talented. He was a respected mountain climber, drew cartoons, and had a delightful sense of humor. The English language edition was published in 1997. The title is Victor Frankl Reflections: An Autobiography, translated by Joseph and Judith Fabry. Both books are available through our online bookstore.

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