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, c2006
ISBN: 9780807014295
Branch Call Number: 150.195 FRA
Characteristics: xvi, 165 p. ; 18 cm


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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. Between 1942 and 1945 the author, a psychiatrist labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and... Read More »

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Apr 26, 2021

I've been meaning to read this book for years after seeing the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in Poland. This book is split into two sections.
The first shares the authors experience at four different concentration camps during WWII and the second combines his experience at the camps and his expertise as a Doctor. This book could be read multiple times as there is a lot of content to digest and think about. My main takeaway is that even when everything else has been taken from us, we are in control of our own attitude toward our current situation. Try to be slow to judge others and quick to show benevolence.

Feb 14, 2021

i read this a long time ago- maybe reread?

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.

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Sep 09, 2012

DellaV thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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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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