TED Talk Tuesday: Viktor Frankl: Why to believe in others

A Holocaust-survivor, Dr. Viktor Frankl pioneered a new approach in psychotherapy that focused on the human search for meaning.  In this clip he briefly describes the importance of meaning and most importantly its implications in psychotherapy. He states that if we treat people as they are, we make them worse but if we have high expectations as to what a person can become we can make them better.

What is interesting to note about the clip is that although Dr. Frankl had been through so much hardship he still expressed himself with humor and calm; his tragedies and struggles had not stolen his humanity.



“You will excuse me but I know I am speaking in marvelous accent without the slightest English.”

“You know what the top category was, 78% of these American youngsters were concerned as they expressed it themselves, with finding a meaning and purpose in their lives. So this a realistic view of man.”

“If we take man as he really is, we make him worse. But if we overestimate him (applause) it’s premature your applause you will soon know why. If we seem to be idealist and are overestimating, over rating man and looking at him that high, here above, you know what happens we promote him to what he really can be. So we have to be idealist in a way, because then we wind up as the true, the real realist. And you know who has said this ‘if we take man as he is we make him worse, but if we take man as he should be we make him capable of becoming what he can be’ this was not my flight instructor, this was not me, this was Goethe he said this verbally.”

“So if you don’t recognize a young man way to meaning, a man’s search for meaning, you make him worse, you make him dull, you make him frustrated, you still add and contribute to his frustration. While if you presuppose in this man, if in this so called criminal, or juvenile delinquent, or drug abuser, and so forth there must be a what do you call ‘spark,’ yeah, a spark of searching for meaning. Let’s recognize this, let’s presuppose it, and then you will elicit it from him and you will make him become what he in principle is capable of becoming.”



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