Every era has its own collective neurosis, and Frankl says that the twentieth-century neurosis is nihilism, or the belief that life is meaningless. Nihilists often argue that man is simply the product of biological and social factors and his life is completely predetermined. Frankl contends, on the other hand, that while man’s freedom is not absolute, in every possible situation, he maintains at least the freedom to choose his own attitude.
In addition to needing to compare his theories with psychoanalysis, Frankl must also explain his relationship with nihilism, a popular philosophy at the time (and a reaction to the atrocities of WWII). Frankl firmly disagrees with the nihilistic idea that life is without meaning, as well as the idea that our actions are completely determined by our environment and genes.