WHEN LIFE CALLS OUT TO US: The Love and Lifework of Viktor and Elly Frankl

Haddon Klingberg, Author Doubleday $23.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-385-50036-4

For more than five decades, Viktor Frankl's memoir of his Holocaust experience, Man's Search for Meaning, has introduced his method of existential psychotherapy, or logotherapy, to millions of readers. Imprisoned in various concentration camps, Frankl survived degradation, despair and suffering by focusing his mental powers on his life's meaning and purpose. Having lost the manuscript of his first book while in the camps, Frankl spent his time constructing words and sentences as a way of making meaning. Psychologist Klingberg, a friend and confidante of Frankl, offers an intimate chronicle of the psychotherapist's life and work. A precocious reader, by the age of 15 Viktor was corresponding with Freud. By the time he was 19, he had published his first major paper in a psychology journal. We also learn about Viktor's unquenchable thirst for women and his early promiscuity. While Klingberg chronicles Frankl's life from birth to death (in 1997), the centerpiece of the book is Viktor's relationship with his second wife, Elly. His first wife died in the camps and, shortly after his own liberation, while he was serving as a doctor, he met Elly, a nurse in the same hospital. She provided Frankl with the spiritual strength and vision and love that enabled him to produce Man's Search for Meaning. Through numerous interviews with the Frankls, Klingberg reconstructs their life together from the time they met to Viktor's death in his 90s. Dedicated followers of Frankl will welcome this biography, but Klingberg's pedestrian prose, turgid style and hagiographic treatment will present struggles for even the most earnest readers. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-385-50037-1
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