As stated in my title, this is not the easiest book to read. First time I picked it up (paper version), I found myself unable to read it prior to bedtime, because of the vivid horror deplicted.
But, if you want to get insight into to man's ability to survive the unsurvivable, endure the unendurable, listen to this book.
Also, it gives first hand insight into the horrors of Germany's concentration camps during the 2nd WW.
Viktor Frankl's book has two main parts: a) very moving description of his experiences in different concentration camps and how he dealt with suffering and pain; b) an introduction of his school of psychotherapy ("logotherapy")partly derived from these experiences.
Really inspiring, even if today you are not suffering. Great help to remember in difficult times.
Frankel's account of his concentration experience is not as moving as those of Elie Wiesel, but the second half of the book on logotherapy draws together the threads of that experience into a structure for treating patients struggling with the existential crisis of life's meaning. Frankel, the founder of logotherapy (meaning therapy), is with Freud and Adler one of the primary Viennese psychiatrists of the 20th century. For Freud sexual conflicts were key to understanding mental turmoil. For Adler it was the struggle for personal power and superiority. Frankel thought that mental conflicts arose from a desire to know the why of existence. He thought that if we know the why we can live with any what. He said the why is clear if we can love someone and if we can work at something we enjoy.
The concentration camp experience also taught Frankel that he had control over his thoughts and feelings. No SS soldier could change his thoughts. He could always go somewhere in his mind. Frankel foreshadowed the present day's psychology of "think it and you will feel it."
Great book for anyone dealing with existential issues or anyone who wants an introduction into a sound anthropological psycho-therapy method. Frankl chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and from the viewpoint of his psycho-therapeutic / phenomenological method of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living. Through his experience, he developed a method of psycho-therapeutic method that he called logotherapy. His analysis focuses on a "will to meaning" as opposed to Adler's Nietzschean doctrine of "will to power" or Freud's "will to pleasure". Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one's life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. According to Frankl, "We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering" and that "everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances". For Frankl, it was his love for his wife that enabled him to survive Auschwitz and three other camps, not to mention many moments of "luck" or grace. Love, for Frankle, became the highest experience that a human can have. I appreciated the back story of Frankl's experience that lead to his method and agree with his conclusions, but I think some of his premises fall into a naturalistic fallacy. Nevertheless, he has a great ability to put into words the psychological and existential reality that one deals with when suffering or striving to understand a purpose in life.
If I had to choose a must-read-list this one would be a sure candidate. It has the ability to touch you in so many levels. There is not only the insights into and behind the scenes from "the horrors of concentration camps", but a personal story of struggle and contemplation. All of this in the light of his own theories about us humans, what drives us and how we may search for happiness. I would like to recommend this book to you with my deepest conviction it holds true wisdom!
For the thinker, philosopher and nurturer of souls...
This is my first review. I felt compelled to write something about this book...
I bought the book about half a year ago... and listened to it three times, back to back. Since then I have found myself still ruminating on what I listened to. What a great book... I highly recommend it to those who are seeking to "walk alongside" others.
I was riveted by this book. It is a fascinating insight into the human psyche under extreme circumstances. It also provides a brief introduction to Frankl's Logo-therapy method of psychotherapy. The psychotherapy section of the book is just the right length. It explains just enough so that you can decide if you want to look further into the subject, but is not long winded or tedious.
I felt the performance was well executed and easy to listen to.
Although the Holocaust was a terrible event, I am not apt to read about it more than I already have. For one, the focus is most often on the Jews rather than the other several million non-Jews who died in it and two, 'our side of it' never touches on the millions of Russians who lost their lives fighting the Germans. But this book is different. It touches everyone of those people and more. The focus is not necessarily on the "Jewish" side of the Holocaust or the "victor's side"; rather it delves into the minds of all those who suffered there, and all those who suffer anywhere. One thought that has stuck with me is this: Sometimes grown men would cry in their sleep from the nightmares they were having but I never woke them because no matter how bad their dream was, it was still better than the reality they would wake up to. Sometimes we think we have it bad, but bad is just as relative as good can be.
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how".”
- Viktor E Frankl
I read an interesting article in the NYTImes a couple weeks ago that lead me to finally pick this book up. Actually, a couple good articles. The first was titled 'Love People, Not Pleasure' and it was about how "this search for fame, the lust for material things and the objectification of others — that is, the cycle of grasping and craving — follows a formula that is elegant, simple and deadly: Love things, use people." The author uses an inversion of this formula that DOES lead to happiness: Use things, Love People (also quoted by Spencer W. Kimball). This article + another recent one from the Atlantic titled 'There's More to Life Than Being Happy' made it clearly evident to me that I needed to finally dust of my yellowed, Goodwill copy of Man's Search for Meaning, plug in my earbuds and experience this book that the Universe clearly wanted me to read this week.
So, imagine a renowned Jewish therapist writes in 1946 (in 9 days) about his experiences at and survival in Auschwitz, and then adds his own psychotherapeutic method (Logotherapy), finding happiness by finding a meaning, a responsibility, a love, and ultimately self-determining. Perhaps it is a consequence of Frankl's work surrounding me in other writings, in popular psychotherapy, in various internet Memes and articles OR perhaps it is just a consequence of my own resilience to my own suffering that this book wasn't much of a revelation. I was like ... yup, makes a lot of sense. Good job. I think it is a great book for what it is. I just don't always get super-excited by self-help psychology books. This one is on the better end of the bell curve for this type, but I guess my problem is with the type. Other than that (minus 1-star for my type bias) it was a great book.
Have of course heard references to this book for ages, had always been curious
Amazingly even handed, dispassionate about things would expect to be written about sensationally, well written, overall positive spin on a very negative experience, great approach to treatment in last section of book, compelling hypothesis well supported.
Narrator amazingly well matched to emotional tone of content, significantly improved experience of the book