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The Missing Pieces of the Puzzle: A Reflection on the Odd Career of Viktor Frankl

Timothy Pytell
Journal of Contemporary History
Vol. 35, No. 2 (Apr., 2000), pp. 281-306
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/261208
Page Count: 26
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The Missing Pieces of the Puzzle: A Reflection on the Odd Career of Viktor Frankl
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Abstract

Viktor Frankl gained international recognition based upon his heroic survival of Auschwitz and his subsequent claim to have founded the third Viennese school of psychotherapy - logotherapy. This article revises this traditional view of Frankl by examining how logotherapy was actually developed under the auspices of the nazi-sponsored Goering Institute in the 1930s. In addition, his survival of Auschwitz is problematized by the questionable medical experimentation he performed in 1940-42 on Jews who had committed suicide in order to avoid deportation, and his limited (three-day) experience in Auschwitz. This new contextualization explains the mass appeal of Viktor Frankl as both a peculiar case of the Austrian burial of the 'ambiguous past' and the longing amongst Americans for an uplifting version of the Holocaust.

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