The Meaning of Life and Death in the Eyes of Frankl: Archetypal and Terror Management Perspectives


  • Claude-Hélène Mayer Orcid
  • Nataliya Krasovska
  • Paul J. P. Fouché


This article aims to uncover the meaning of life and death across the lifespan of the extraordinary person, Viktor E. Frankl (1905–1997). Frankl was purposively sampled due to his international acclaim as an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, who later became famous as a holocaust survivor and the founder of logotherapy. Through his approach of “healing through meaning,” he became the founder of the meaning-centred school of psychotherapy and published many books on existential and humanistic psychology. The study describes the meaning of life and death through two theoretical approaches: the archetypal analysis based on C.G. Jung’s and C.S. Pearson’s work and a terror management approach based on the melancholic existentialist work of Ernest Becker. The methodology of psychobiography is used to conduct the psycho-historical analysis of the interplay of archetypes and death annihilation anxiety throughout Frankl’s lifespan. The article evaluates how archetypes and death anxiety interacts and how they built meaning in different stages of Frankl’s lifespan. The theories are discussed and illustrated in the light of Viktor E. Frankl’s life.