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.
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.
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.
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
I listened to Night by Holocaust survivor by Elie Wiesel immediately prior to Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Frankl was born in 1905, 23 years before Wiesel, so he has well established general practice physician, psychiatrist, and neurologist when he was sent to Nazi concentration camps for 3 years at age 37. He was still required to perform lard labor in the four camps. He lost his parents and wife during the Holocaust with he and his sister being the only survivors in his family.
This book details his time in Nazi concentration camps, but its other major topic is his development of logotherapy, a form of existential therapy used modern psychiatry. The logotherapy concept uses the theory that humans need a cause, a purpose, to live fulfilling lives. Many believe that Freud made the most important contributions to modern psychiatry. Freud's contributions were very significant but the pale into virtual insignificance compared to Frankl's contributions. Man's Search for Meaning discusses the worldwide use and success of logotherapy.
This is a short book at less than 5 hours, but it is a critically important one. It is one that everyone should read, and then reread again and again. The book was written in 1946 but has been updated several times. This audiobook is the 1995 update, the final one.. It contains wisdom that can help every person live a more fulfilling life. Simon Vance's narration is outstanding.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is must listen non-fiction that can literally change ones life. It has my highest recommendation.
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