Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl - Book Review
"Man's Search for Meaning" is one of my all-time favorite books, and has moved me and influenced my thinking greatly. Read on to learn why I - and many others - think this way.
Viktor E. Frankl was born in 1905 in Vienna, Austria, his native tongue being German. He became a neurologist and psychiatrist in around 1931, then a quite young science.
In 1938 Nazi Germany under Hitler annexed Austria and limited his ability to practice (Frankl was a Jew).
From 1942 to 1945 Frankl was an inmate in several Nazi Prison Camps (Konzentrationslager) where he was stripped of everything imaginable – except his spirit.
After his liberation by the allied forces he was able to return to Vienna and pursue his practice.
The book: “Man’s Search for Meaning” is his autobiography and most important work.
He created his own school of psychotherapy, called Logotherapy, where he pursues his opinion that Man’s greatest pursuit is not pleasure, but meaning.
This book is a must-read because it not only details his suffering and that of his fellow prisoners under grueling and inhumane conditions, but also the potential of people to survive – and even thrive – in those conditions as bad as they are.
Here are the most famous quotes (according to the highlighted areas from Amazon):
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you” - Viktor E. Frankl
“Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” - Viktor E. Frankl
“Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.” - Viktor E. Frankl
I was fortunate enough to hear a lecture by Viktor Frankl as a young medical student in Germany, just a few years before his death.
I have read this little book many times, in times of strife and to gain hope and meaning in times of struggle and depression. I read it as a paperback, as a Kindle E-book and listened to it often on Audible. Every time I gained and still gain more insights and hope and the will to pursue my own growth and the pursuit to help others in their struggles and growth.
Viktor E. Frankl lived in times just as turbulent and uncertain as ours, through the great depression of the 1920’s and 30’s, but he had to suffer from the atrocious actions of a totalitarian regime, just because he was a Jew, someone that the Nazi regime identified as different, a “non-person”, someone so dangerous to others that they had to be kept separately from them and subjected to inhuman tortures.
We all need to know what history tells us to avoid letting anything like this ever happen again!
Let us be reminded of one of my favorite quotes from another great book, The Bible:
"..Love your neighbor as yourself..."
Whether people have a different skin colour, race, ethnicity, political opinion, religious conviction or just choose to disagree with the current trends, we need to respect other people’s choices and not judge them or discriminate against them for anything.
As long as those people respect others’ freedom as well and are not a danger to the public, there is never a reason to imprison anyone or rob them of basic human freedoms.
Freedom of speech, of assembly and of expressing different opinions should always be respected by society.
Let Viktor Frankl’s experience be a warning to those who try to ostracize others and encouragement for those that find themselves suddenly shunned from “regular” society.