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Publisher's Summary

Internationally renowned psychiatrist, Viktor E. Frankl, endured years of unspeakable horror in Nazi death camps. During, and partly because of, his suffering, Dr. Frankl developed a revolutionary approach to psychotherapy known as logotherapy. At the core of his theory is the belief that man's primary motivational force is his search for meaning.

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

Critic Reviews

"An enduring work of survival literature." (The New York Times)

What members say

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  • Overall

I will isten again and again

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.

94 of 99 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Humbling

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.

90 of 97 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Between stimulus and response, there is a space...

"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."

90 of 99 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kevin
  • Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 11-30-04

Great Book!

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.

56 of 66 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Invaluable path to a meaningful life

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."

30 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Insightful and Illuminating. Foundational.

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.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

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Touching Story of Resilience

What did you like best about this story?

It's difficult to describe the darkest moments of your life. It's even harder to find meaning in them. Frankl shows courage and great resilience by having created this work of art, which will help others find purpose in their struggles as well.

32 of 39 people found this review helpful

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Too Much Wisdom for 1 Reading

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.

44 of 54 people found this review helpful

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One of the Most Important Books Ever Written

There are a handful of books that should truly be required and desired reading for everyone across the world. This is one of them. It is simultaneously repulsive and compelling, disheartening and hopeful.

I read this book perhaps 20 years ago. The older I get, the more I find new meaning in it. There are a great many self-help books out there that go on and on and say nothing. Then there's a book like this that offers an unblinking look at one of history's most horrific events from an inside perspective and uses that as a lead-in to offer to us a scientific embrace of the three little words that could mean the most to all of us.

Love. Faith. Hope.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great book for those dealing w/ existential issues

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim Vaughan
  • 12-02-12

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.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • R
  • 05-03-08

Throw out your self-help books!

This is an utterly remarkable book for so many reasons. What strikes me most about it is how it really gives meaning to the idea that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. What I mean by this is the following: the book is not great psychology, nor great philosophy nor even great narrative. And yet, as a whole I would call it a great book. Why? Because it makes a definitive impact. I cannot say that I walked away from this book unchanged. I suppose it is Viktor Frankl himself who makes all the difference -- in him you find a truly humane, humble and ultimately wise human being. I was truly impressed to hear him quoting Nietzsche while in a concentration camp; this at a time when Nietzsche's work had been distorted and used to promote anti-semitism by the Nazis. One warning though -- his existentialist philosophy is outdated and really needs to be complemented by a contemporary understanding of human nature.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Uko
  • 01-06-17

insightful

insightful discussion of our existence and what the meaning of life is. My first experience of the Aushchwitz camp.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • The Vikid Truth
  • 12-19-16

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-09-16

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • MarkPT
  • 07-11-16

Eye opening!

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. P. A. A. Banjo
  • 07-06-16

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Podgorni
  • 07-04-16

wonderful piece

simple and refreshing, helps keeping feets on ground, not undermining any suffering or problems,

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Yewande
  • 06-28-16

Absolutely astounding!

This book opened my eyes to the meaning of suffering. Man is not undone by suffering but by meaninglessness

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Happy customer
  • 06-15-16

Brilliant

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Davide Gaido
  • 06-17-15

An unmissable masterpiece

This should be a compulsory read for every human being.

The account of his days in concentration camps is a pure recount of events, from the perspective of a human being as opposed to most literature on the subject that add a patina of impersonality. I felt his pain, but most of all I felt his hope and deep humanity.

I couldn't give a perfect score because the second part of this book is an academic dissertation on the subject of logo-therapy, that although interesting, felt a bit out of place.

Narration is great, clear and suited.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Samuel
  • 01-09-15

Intense in a very meaningful way.

This was 5 hrs of my life I shall hold dear, declaring that I felt truly alive and inspired by humanities potential to realising profound greatness.

Good narration, excellent content and griping insight.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew Chapman
  • 04-07-15

outstanding book exceptional narration

an exceptional story that is narrated very well. the life stories shared have shifted my paradigms abd forever changed the lens through which I see the world. highly recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris Brady
  • 02-03-17

brilliant

What a great book I learned many great things including I should be more patient and more comfortable with suffering

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • victoria bone
  • 01-21-17

Fantastic- meaning of life and why we are here

The last 2 chapers made me realise more about myself and my mindset towards my meaning of life.. everyone has a different meaning to life and its not just one meaning.. that meaning changes every moment of every situation xx

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Max
  • 01-20-17

Fascinating

Frankl makes a compelling point throughout the book about finding meaning in your suffering. Frankl goes into detail about said point when he, in the first chapter, discusses his hellish experiences in a Nazi labor camp. In the second chapter, he goes into further detail by talking about his form psychotherapy, known as Logotherapy, where patients learn how they can find meaning in their suffering in order to live a more fulfilling life.
Although the second chapter does drag a little at times, 'Man’s Search for Meaning' is still a book that I highly recommend, especially if you ever find yourself going through many challenging situations in life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ainslie
  • 10-29-16

Perfect narration

Great book that will humble and illuminate you. Read beautifully and set out in a thoughtful and understandable way. Highly recommend not only the book, but the listening experience as well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • odailson
  • 09-25-16

love the book

great book with an amazing real story that gives so many practical lessons for our daily struggles.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 09-20-16

Amazing listening! Highly recommended

As we all look for some sort of meaning in our lives, this book opens a powerful conversation on how we have the choice in every situations to discover an empowering meaning in our actions and way of being.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-28-17

Insight into humanity and triumph over suffering.

A must read in this age if we are to avoid the worst of human urges and foster societies based on selfless values.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful