Man's Search for Meaning is more than a story of Viktor E. Frankl's triumph: it is a remarkable blend of science and humanism and an introduction to the most significant psychological movement of our day.
©1959, 1962, 1984 Viktor E. Frankl; (P)1995 Blackstone Audiobooks
"An enduring work of survival literature." (The New York Times)
The beginning of this book deals with the author's time in concentration camps, and the descriptions are all to the purpose of tracing his observations, which he later builds his theory of logotherapy on. Thus, the descriptions are not horrifying for horrors sake, but serve to educate one regarding the way these experiences were able to be withstood.
There were a few surprises in this book as well. He mentions logotherapy, and paradoxical intention, in relation to its use in treatment for people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, among other things.
Most importantly, to myself, were the ways he showed how he had developed his ideas on man's search for meaning. These are ideas that he himself used to save his life while enduring four concentration camps. They are not ideals plucked out of the ether and argued with only intellect.
The narrator has a European accent, which I cannot place, but which added greatly to my listening experience. Sometimes the ideas flow thick and fast and it is a challenge to keep up while also taking in completely the ideas you just heard.
This is a book I will listen to repeatedly and learn from on each occassion.
All the other people that have reviewed this book have captured the content of the book very well. The only thing I have to add is that this is a book about an extraordinary man, with all of the horror he was subjected to he still remained a wonderful human. He is not bitter and does not hate the people who subjected him to these unspeakable acts, instead he tries to find the good or humor in their acts.
This book humbled me; I used to get upset when someone took my parking spot, or cut into my queue but now I smile as I have never had to endure real horror or injustice.
"Man's Search for Meaning" is the great summary of Frankl's view on life. Sold in 10 million copies - the book has two distinct parts - the first is a kind of memoir of the horrible time Frankl spent in at least four concentration camps during II World War, including Auschwitz. From all written stories about the life in camp - Frankl's relation is astonishing - there are no gruesome scenes, no ghastly relations - but through some cold description of prisoners shock, apathy, bitterness and finally deformation of morals - Frankl's account is one of the most fearful stories I have ever read. Yet, there is still a small light of humanness, still a germ of meaning in all these atrocities. Let's read: "We have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips."
The second part of the book deals with his LOGOTHERAPY - the fundamental theory Frankl promoted in XX century. Logotherapy seeks the cure for neurosis and existential emptiness in the search for meaning in life. There are passages in the book, also those about love and its importance that make one shiver....
Let's read two citations from this great book:
"An incurable psychotic individual may lose his usefulness but yet retain the dignity of a human being. This is my psychiatric credo."
"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."
I got this book after Dr. Phil said he has read and re-read it several times in his life. While I'm not always a Dr. Phil fan, I think he has it right with this one. It's one of the few books I consistently recommend to anyone. Very insightful, unbiased, and amazing the he has actually lived what he learned and vice versa.
I had not heard of Dr. Frankle, but listening to his story and the lessons learned about human nature provided profound insight, and created a sense of this man's permanent prominence in the field of Psychiatry. The practical examples of filling man's "existential vacuum" with meaning were extremely useful. Some of the stuff toward the end is a bit difficult to follow, but overall, I found this book to be serendipitously foundational to my next read which was Covey's "Seven Habits." Perhaps it should be a pre-requisite to the study of Covey.
After reading Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning and being incredibly bored, I got this audiobook, as I was determined to read MSfM, but didn't have the mental patience (after getting burned by MSfUM) to sit down with it. These are two entirely different creatures and I am so glad I got this.
MSfM is beautifully written and achingly eloquent. The stories are wonderful and the explanations of logotherapy at the end are just redundant enough to make the whole thing stick in the mind. The book is highly quotable, which would be the main reason one might want a hard copy either in addition to or instead of the audible version. Because the text is so clearly and lushly descriptive and profound, and the reading so clear, I ended up playing a section in school for a class.
I could listen to this a few times and be satisfied.
I don't love British narrators and the pomp of the accent gets on my nerves, but it felt appropriate in this case and worked well. Despite being a short read, it was worth the credit.
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."
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
Maybe others in the self-help guru "industry" have said similar things but NONE has come close to saying it with the authority and credibility of Dr. Viktor Frankl given what he endured and who he became and what he has meant, and continues to mean, to so many.
My 2 favorite quotes from this book:
"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...."
"Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how.'"
This book is not some deep philosophical rambling on the meaning of life. It's about a person's search for meaning, or more particularly about the search of Dr. Viktor Frankl, an eminent psychiatrist with a mountain of personal experience in coping with adversity, and how it can make a difference in the practical ways you view your life and handle your trials and tribulations.
Dr. Frankl was imprisoned in 4 Nazi death camps, including the infamous Auschwitz, between 1942 and 1945. He survived, while his pregnant wife, parents and brother all died. He differed with Freud who thought our primary drive in life is pleasure, in arguing that we are driven to pursue and find something meaningful in our lives. So, while we cannot, obviously, avoid suffering, Dr. Frankl says, we can choose how to cope with the hurt, find meaning in our suffering and move on with a sense of renewed purpose.
A wonderful, practical and highly recommended book.
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.
Say something about yourself!
Since Frankl published Man's Search for Meaning there have been 4 revisions on the DSM; (I began working in the field during the DSMIII). Our understanding, diagnostic tools, and treatment therapies broaden, but there is still so much that needs to be done and known to treat *mental illnesses* --especially the stigma people have to deal with, and the issue of parity. Through all the enlightenment, I still find this book invaluable and profound. For myself, I include a reading in my list of annual maintenance. You don't need another review...I'm offering a REMINDER...read again.
"Potentially life changing..."
So, we all know about the Holocaust, yet this book is a bit different - told with such "tragic optimism" that the message is not moral outrage or repulsion, but of meaning in the midst of unimaginable degradation. The "why" that makes the "how" of suffering bearable. Frankle quotes Nietzsche throughout.
The most moving passages for me were his imagined conversations with his wife, (who probably by that time was dead), which nonetheless gave him the purpose for continuing to live, and the glimpses of Nature, such as sunsets, raw in beauty, beyond the barbed wire.
His message is simple - it is in loving the people we love and in the struggle that our lives demand of us, that we find meaning that transcends the mere pleasure principle. Our own "ontic logos" is individually uncovered, not found through intellectual introspection on "THE meaning of life" (which is a nonsense and which usually just leads to neurosis).
Frankle highlights the contemporary consumerist "tyranny of happiness", which is endemic in the West, so that many patients feel not just unhappy, but deeply ashamed of their unhappiness.
Existentialism is not popular in the zeitgeist, but I think we can learn much from that generation who lived through the War, and the Holocaust, and developed such philosophies of coping with terrible hardship and suffering. By contrast, we can be very superficial, and self centred, and it left me considering what issues I cared about enough to take action on. Would I regret not doing so otherwise? Yes, probably - as an opportunity wasted!
This is a humane, inspiring, potentially life changing book; well narrated, subtle, profound and unpretentious. It deserves the highest rating.
insightful discussion of our existence and what the meaning of life is. My first experience of the Aushchwitz camp.
"Deep and Thought Provoking"
This is a bool that make you think to the core of your being, it makes you ask just as the title suggests, what meaning actually is and how you can poses it.
The first half of the book is autobiographical and is an harrowing account of the concentration camps, harrowing but not graphic.
The second half is psychoanalytical and more theoretical.
I absolutely loved this book, I can recommend it to anyone one from young adult upwards.
"shook me to the core and built me up again"
my first Frankl. just had to finish. Audible is amazing at choosing right voices. grateful.
I'd split this book into 3 sections.
The first is an amazing account of the war, Frankl's time there and the happenings. It really did open your eyes
The second part of say is about how he helped the people in camp, some links to finding meaning and purpose and crossing the bridge between his time in camp and his use of logo therapy .
The third part is where I tuned out a lot. It's his views and use of logotherapy so can get quite deep - I'm not sure if it's he subject matter or he very English narrator (which works well on the first 2 parts, not as much on the third!) but it was quite specialist!
Still, I'd rate this book highly for the first two sections!
"well read and structured"
the text was insightful and well structured. the narrative of how to make the most meaningful life was given weight by the author's experiences
simple and refreshing, helps keeping feets on ground, not undermining any suffering or problems,
"Absolutely astounding! "
This book opened my eyes to the meaning of suffering. Man is not undone by suffering but by meaninglessness
The first part talks about what he learned in his experiences in concentration camps. It doesn't focus on gory details, but rather what insights can be drawn from the conditions. The second part is an introduction to logotherapy--which seeks to help people to find meaning in their lives and thus fulfillment.
A tribute to hope. A book that addresses life's issues and make it easy to understand.
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