The man who would be king : Viktor Frankl's struggle for meaning / by Timothy Edward Pytell.
The dissertation is an intellectual biography of the existential psychotherapist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl. The intellectual evolution of Frankl represents a specific example of the existentialist critique of Freud's positivism, and in broader terms, a manifestation of the crisis of the European rationalist tradition. But my original and detailed research on Frankl's early writings and intellectual development in Vienna during the 1920s and 1930s has led to a revision of our traditional understanding. In my work, Frankl emerges as a peculiar example of both the Austrian struggle with democratic politics, and the Austrian purge of the Nazi past from public memory. The first four chapters of the dissertation provide a detailed reconstruction of Frankl's career from 1918–38. Special emphasis is placed on the relationship between the Austrian political crisis and trends within psychology. This nexus is exhibited by Frankl's journey from Freud's stoic individualism, to Adler's social communalism, and finally to a “third path,” embodied by his work with the Austrian branch of the Nazi-affiliated Goering Institute in the mid-1930s. Chapter five covers Frankl's activities from the “Anschluss” until his deportation in September of 1942. Frankl's work as a “Jewish Specialist” at the Rothschild hospital is the central concern. At the Nazi controlled Rothschild, Frankl conducted medical research, when trying to revive Jews who had committed suicide in order to avoid deportation. The second half of the thesis analyzes Frankl's intellectual production since 1945. The focus is on how his Holocaust survival and pre-war experiences are “worked-through” by a process of forgetting, revising, and sanitizing. Chapters eight and nine depict the mature formation of Frankl's own brand of existential analysis—logotherapy—and his relationship with Heideggerian existentialism. In the concluding chapter Frankl's impact on the American humanistic psychology movement of the 1960s is reconstructed. Against Abraham Maslow's and Rollo May's aspirations for an immanent meaning to human existence, Frankl argued or a more traditional idealistic notion he defined as an “unconscious God.”
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