10 Theses on the Human Person

This is a summary of Frankl’s  view of the human person deriving from his meta-clinical lectures  given at the University of Salzburg in 1950. It is his unique conception of the human being that constitutes the basis of Logotherapy. “Spiritual” here is not used in a religious way but relates to the human spirit.


1. The person is an individual; the person is something indivisible – it cannot be further divided, it cannot be subdivided, and that because it is a unity.

2. The person not only is an in-dividual, but it is also is not summable (in-summabile); i.e. not only is it not divisible but it also cannot be merged; and this because it is not only a unity but also a whole.

3. Every single person is an absolute novelty – unique and irreplaceable. With every person coming into this world an absolute novelty is brought into being, into reality. People may be akin physically or emotionally and possibly compared, e.g. according to various typologies – but as spiritual beings they defy any typology.

4. The person is self-creation.The person is spiritual and has an unimpeachable dignity.

5. The person is existential. The person is not factual but facultative; the person decides at any given moment who it may become in the next moment. To choose and to discard are actions of the person as a spiritual being.

6. The person is “I – bound”; the person is not dictated by psychophysical drives. As an “I” the person relates to the character that it has.

7. The person is not only unity and wholeness but the person also creates unity and wholeness. It creates the unity and wholeness of body, soul and spirit that constitutes the ‘human’ being. The human being is always already a person that has a character and becomes a personality by dealing with its psychic character as a spiritual person.

8. The person is dynamic; that is, the person is able to distance the self from, and to transcend, the psychophysical. And by doing so the spiritual appears. The personal spirit owns a certain independence from the “psychophysicum”, it can take a stand on it. Frankl calls this “the defiant power or the human spirit”.

9. An animal is not a person, because it is not capable of self-distance. The person is capable of self-distance; therefore, the animal cannot be taken as a correlate to the person.

10. The person is a metaphysical entity; the person understands the self only from transcendence; Person derives from personare (lat.); Per-sonare = to sound through. The call of the transcendence goes through the person and the person hears this call via its conscience.