frank's centennial


What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.

Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning


26 March 2005 Viktor Frankl – one of the greatest minds of the 20th century: the psychiatrist, psychologist and philosopher would have been 100 years old.  That is when our web-site was launched.  Viktor Frankl passed away 2 September 1997: ten years ago. And yet, we dedicate this new web-site to his Centennial, in a hope that the new century he did not see, will manifest the immortality of his ideas.

The life of Viktor Frankl was not a usual life. He lived three lives in one. And the three of them were extraordinary and astounding.

A humble medical student in the late 20th, a disciple of first Sigmund Freud, and then Alfred Adler, Viktor Frankl eventually challenged their authoritarianism and was expelled from both schools.

The originality and deep humanism of his thinking had enabled him to develop his own approach to human soul: he became founder of the so-called Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy. Thrown into a Nazi death camp in 1942, he, by his spiritual strength and his will to life, had managed to survive and thus became a living proof of the main thesis of his philosophy:

One can live only for as long as one's life has a meaning.

Viktor Frankl sees the will to meaning as the most important motivation of people's lives.  A society becomes severely ill when the will to meaning in people's lives becomes frustrated.

In this situation when people "lose ground" the old liberal social philosophies fail.  The bitter truth, says Frankl, is that (The Unheard Cry for Meaning; italics by Frankl):

For too long we have been dreaming a dream from which we are now waking up: the dream that if we just improve the socioeconomic situation of people, everything will be okay, people will become happy.  The truth is that as the struggle for survival has subsided, the question has emerged: survival for what?  Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for [italics by Frankl].

Why is this happening? In his book, The Unconscious God: Psychotherapy and Theology, Frankl writes:

Unlike an animal, man is no longer told by drives and instincts what he must do.  And in contrast to man in former times, he is no longer told by traditions and values what he should do.  Now, knowing neither what he must do nor what he should do, he sometimes does not even know what he basically wishes to do.  Instead, he wishes to do what other people do... or he does what other people wish him to do. Frankl calls the state of frustration of the will to meaning the existential vacuum. In his words, this vacuum, though too often latent, does open up and becomes manifest in the state of boredom. Hence the title of my book:

Genrich L. Krasko

This Unbearable Boredom of Being.
A Crisis of Meaning in America.


Genrich L. Krasko, Ph.D., is a retired physics professor. He lives with his wife in Peabody, MA. CONTACT