Man's Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning

Book - 2006
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In this work, a Viennese psychiatrist tells his grim experiences in a German concentration camp which led him to logotherapy, an existential method of psychiatry. This work has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 the author, a psychiatrist labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the stories of his many patients, he argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. His theory, known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (meaning), holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.
Publisher: Boston, Mass. :, Beacon Press,, [2006]
Copyright Date: ©2006
ISBN: 9780807014271
Branch Call Number: 940.5318092 F8311F
Characteristics: xvi, 165 pages ; 23 cm


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Jun 14, 2020

I agree with the other comments praising this book. I first read this book a lifetime ago when I was a high school freshman, after picking it up at random off a library book shelf. I just finished rereading it for at least the fifth time. I have had all my children read it and have given it regularly as a high school or college graduation gift. As I have negotiated the inevitable difficulties of an active life, fruitfully lived, I return over and over again to the central lessons of this book. A couple other reviewers touch on important points of the book. The book cannot be summarized in one sentence and is richer with each rereading and further reflection. Frankl emphasizes that a man can find meaning evening in the grimness of a concentration camp. What is the meaning? Frank insists that this is the wrong question, or perhaps that we need not ask the question. Instead, we must understand that it is life asking of us the question, life which is asking each of us to respond to our situation. In short, Frankl emphasizes the need for us to give the answer, to assume our responsibility, to demonstrate our response-ability. The book and its author are deservedly and rightly referenced frequently. This has been one of the most impactful books in my life, and I recommend it highly.

Mar 30, 2020

Inspirational read. Frankl is a very happy person.

Mar 22, 2020

Sue! (Passage on his wife?!)

Oct 01, 2019

I've owned, read and re-read this outstanding book, in several different editions, over more years than I care to count, lending it freely to anyone who expressed an interest. Each copy I held sooner or later failed to find its way home; far from mourning its loss, I rejoiced that a friend had found the book important enough to keep. Surely the book, written in a few short days immediately after the end of WW2, is even more relevant to us today, when meaning seems blurred or challenged by events that threaten to plunge civil society into another abyss, perhaps worse than the holocaust, who knows. The very existence of truth is being challenged, so how can anyone find meaning in their lives? It seems to me that Viktor Frankl — miraculously — understood our dilemma. And he taught us that each of us bears the responsibility of making choices, regardless of our circumstances.
The essence of his teaching is that we are offered three possible paths toward discovering for ourselves the meaning of our lives. The first is by "creating a work or doing a deed." Deprived of that opportunity by circumstance, one may seek meaning by "experiencing something or encountering someone" — i.e through love. His third path, the one most vividly demonstrated through his experience in concentration camps, is through "the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering." It's important to point out that he is not talking about deliberate martyrdom and he decries masochism. Proof that he is correct lies in the fact that so many of the individuals who are widely admired are those who have prevailed over suffering and adversity.
I suppose I could go on at considerable length about what this book says to me, how I think it relates to our 21st century reality; I could even kibbitz about some of his views regarding our modern world, which has evolved in ways he could not have foreseen. But anyone reading this review would be better off spending their time simply reading the book itself. No one I've met was ever disappointed by it.
Simply put, one of the greatest books of the 20th century.

Gina_Vee Jun 06, 2019

As a classic, this was an extremely interesting read. There were things I did not expect from this book, and they were hard to take in, but there were some extremely impactful tidbits in this book.

A psychiatrist meets existential philosophy in Nazi death camps. Eloquent, brief, and touching. Highly recommended. The Observer wishes he had read it as a younger man.

Nov 25, 2018

Stupendous work!

It stands as perhaps the most profound generation of rebirth -- to find the meaning in life to live-- in the deepest despair of the horrors of the Nazi death camps. This paradox only intensifies the magnificence of the human spirit.

VaughanPLDavidB Nov 09, 2018

Having heard Jordan Peterson mention this book more than once, I thought I should give it a read. Now having read it, I know I will have to read it again. Clearly this is a foundational work for the development of Peterson both as a lecturer and as a clinical psychologist.

Aug 29, 2018

Man’s Search for Meaning was written by the remarkable Viktor E. Frankl, a neurologist and psychiatrist; he was also a survivor of four Nazi concentration camps. The first half of the book describes in detail the experiences of Frankl while he was imprisoned in many camps, one being the infamous Auschwitz. He recalled everything that he and his comrades had experienced, and analyzed each emotion that men had felt throughout their years of being locked away. The second half of the book explored Frankl’s school of psychology and philosophy, which was named “logotherapy” or the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy.” “Logos” means “meaning” in Greek, and logotherapy is the idea that “we are strongly motivated to live purposefully and meaningfully.” Frankl had written his second manuscript for his theory in the camps after his first manuscript was confiscated at Auschwitz. Once he was liberated, he shared his story with us and introduced us to the idea of logotherapy, which is being used all over the world to help patients. I give this book a 9/10 star rating and recommend it to ages 14 and up.
@ilovefood of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

Aug 01, 2018

What a great, fantastic, tough book -- one that only more people should read. There were moments where I gasped out loud at the accounts of suffering, and yet he persevered. A deep study of not only the horrors of the Holocaust, but of the turn of mind that can bring us through even the most difficult times. The later part of the book bears plenty of useful lessons for people unmoored in the modern world, and serves as quite a testament to what can be endured by the human spirit.

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Sep 09, 2012

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Jul 20, 2014

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." Viktor Frankl


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