Psychology Giants and Theories


If you know about the history of psychology, you already know about Victor Frankl. If you know nothing or very little about psychology; you should learn about him. Without reservation, Frankl was one of the fathers of psychology, along with Freud and Adler.

Frankl was born in 1905 and died in 1997. They (Freud, Adler, and Frankl) were contemporaries; they were Jewish and lived in Vienna, which was referred to by Frankl as the Mecca of modern psychology.

Freud was born in 1856 and died in 1939. Adler was born in 1913 and died in 2007. He immigrated to the USA and become an outstanding physicist and engineer. Until 1939 he, Freud and Frankl were the leading psychologists in the world.

The second highlight in Frankl’s life was the formulation and promotion of Logotherapy. At age 15, he gave a lecture on the subject.

He stressed in that early lecture that each person is responsible for his or her life. He later defined “logos” as “meaning.”

The psychology giants of the first half of the 20th century were undoubtedly Freud, Adler and Frankl. Their basic theories were; psychoanalysis (Freud): individual psychology (Adler); and Logotherapy (Frankl) There are a few similarities among them; but also significant differences.

Victor Frankl is my favorite. For several reasons. His life experiences, Auschwitz; his dealing with adversity; his pleasures beyond psychology, mountain climbing, piloting airplanes and telling jokes. Also, perhaps most important, his family life.

Logotherapy really means “wellness through finding meaning in life.” The best expressions of Logotherapy is Dr. Frankl’s bestselling book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Currently there is between 15-20 million copies in circulation. It is the most read book, second only to the Bible.

The book is basically about our ability to survive. His favorite quote is from Neitzsche, “He who has a WHY to live for, can bear any HOW.”

In his autobiography Frankl frequently mentions his two other fellow giants in the field of psychology. He was a competitor with both Freud and Adler and they feuded with each other. For instance, Adler refused to speak to Frankl for most of their lives.

Freud was the father of Psychoanalysis which is expressed through pleasure. Adler was the father of Individual Psychology which is expressed through power. Frankl was the father of Logotherapy which is expressed through meaning in life.

It is impossible to encompass all of the thoughts that capture our attention in “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Sufficient to present the basic belief that are the themes of the book.

First is in WORK or doing something significant. From teaching, writing a book, playing sports, cooking a meal, or anything that is fulfillment.

Second is LOVE. In love for another person. Caring for someone besides yourself. A spouse, a family, a relative or a friend. Third is being courageous in difficult times. One of the most famous words are: “Forces beyond your control may take everything you possess. Except your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”

Amen. Selah. So be it.


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