Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

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5 out of 5 Stars. Part I, Experiences in a Concentration Camp, was insightful and fascinating, but part II, Logotherapy in a Nutshell, was harder for me, the average person, to understand. Read part I for sure, and if you have the time and patience, try part II. Overall, I would recommend Man's Search for Meaning to everyone because the overarching themes are universal.

Important Quotes:

“Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.” (65)

“The sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him - mentally and spiritually.” (66)

“It is this spiritual freedom - which cannot be taken away - that makes life meaningful and purposeful.” (67)

“Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.” (74)

“Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.” (113)

“Nietzsche’s words, “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how,” could be the guiding motto for all psychotherapeutic and psycho-hygienic efforts regarding prisoners. Whenever there was an opportunity for it, one had to give them a why - an aim - for their lives, in order to strengthen them to bear the terrible how of their existence.” (76)

“I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, “homeostasis,” i.e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.” (105)

“Such widespread phenomena as depression, aggression and addiction are not understandable unless we recognize the existential vacuum underlying them.” (107)

“I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” (132)

Man's Search for Meaning was hard to read at times because the book describes the horrible details of the Holocaust. Frankl recounts his experiences during WWII, and some are dark. But I believe these details need to be heard; we need to know what happened, so it never happens again.

Most guidance is in part I of the book, while part II further explains logotherapy and some of the concepts in part I. That’s why I recommend part I, but not necessarily part II. The lessons learned in part I, Experiences in a Concentration Camp, are universal and can be taken straight into the real world and applied to life.

Need another book? Maybe one of these will work:

Food: The Good Girl's Drug by Sunny Sea Gold

Never Binge Again by Glenn Livingston

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