Vivid and revealing recollections, impressions, and stories of Viktor Frankl’s life, as told to clinical psychologist Klingberg, his friend and former student.
In a project that took eight years to complete, Klingberg (Psychology/North Park Univ., Chicago) recorded hundreds of hours of conversations with Frankl and his wife Elly. In the process, he managed to elicit from Frankl (1905–1997) the influences, decisions, and graces that went into the making of the mind that produced the soul-expanding Man’s Search for Meaning (1959). Frankl speaks plainly about his secure and comforting early youth, how it may well have had as much influence on his future thought as did the remarkable intellectual atmosphere of early-20th-century Vienna. Not an athletic child, he would instead trip off to attend lectures at the university psychiatric clinic, take sprout in the seedbeds of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Jaspers, the Nihilists, Freud, and Adler. He explains the moment of his discomfort with an idea, of the psychological theory and reductionism that deflected him from Freud and Adler, their constrictions and lack of rationality. And how, prior to the concentration camps, he was forming his theory of logotherapy and the development of a less deterministic, more optimistic and humanistic psychology, one rooted in the freedom and independence of the human spirit to assume responsibility in all personal matters, to find meaning in existence by living for someone or something other than the self. Klingberg provides a thorough picture of Frankl’s detractors—from those who were angered by his thumbing his nose at collective guilt to others who found fault in his marrying a Christian to those who thought his work came down to simple mental attitude. The author also does an artful job of painting in the background against which Frankl’s story is cast.
A particularly valuable tool for understanding Frankl, as Klingberg manages to collar a wealth of defining moments in his subject’s life and work.