- Author: Viktor E. Frankl | Hardcover : 196 pages | ISBN-13 : 978-0807014264
Man’s Search For Meaning details holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s horrifying experiences in Nazi concentration camps, along with his psychological approach of logotherapy, which is also what helped him survive and shows you how you can – and must – find meaning in your life.
Reading this book I was saddened. What happened to Viktor is the same as what happened to Rwandans during 1994: loss of families and belongings, enduring extreme hunger and brutality… It’s a stage where life seems to be meaningless and suicide can be a reasonable option.
In this book Frankl shows us that what drives humans is meaning. Now meaning for Frankl is not something abstract and airy and noble but rather something very concrete and specific to your life – what is the task that life asks of you that only you can do? Look at the circumstances of your life, look at your talents and the people that surround you. Where is the need that is calling for you to respond? For Frankl, the hope that kept him trudging on day by day in the concentration camps was the need to re-write the manuscript (taken away when first imprisoned) where he could present to the world his theory of Logotherapy. Why I found this book so helpful is because one of the rock-bottom places where depression can take you is despair. Despair is the absence of hope. The search for meaning, for a response to something life is asking of you, is the place where hope is born. Frankl states that hope, like genuine laughter or like faith or love is not something that we can will into being. We cannot make hope appear willy nilly in our lives because hope is more than a nice thought, it is, like true love something that involves your whole being. I find this to be true but there are things that we can do to prepare the way for hope’s arrival and hope will come, it will always come. We can search for meaning because searching and looking and asking and expecting are acts and attitudes that we can adopt. Meaning, according to Frankl is found in three different forms. Meaning is found in creating or doing. Meaning is found in experiencing something greater than ourselves and in encountering another being through love. And finally, meaning can be found in the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering. The important thing here is that in all of these instances the value of the thing that gives meaning is subjective. There is no scale out there that says that writing a novel gives more meaning than helping your spouse with the dishes. When it comes to meaning, the small, the hidden, the unsaid is as important as the great acts of genius and you alone are the judge. Orienting yourself to responding in some way to what life is asking of you may not be the sole cure to depression but it is for me a necessary part of any healing process, of learning to live and be useful, despite the illness
Viktor Frankl’s wife, father, mother and brother died in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.Yet having been lowered into the pits of humanity, Frankl emerged an optimist. His reasoning was that even in the most terrible circumstances, a person still has the freedom to choose how they see their circumstances and create meaning out of them.
Apart from the optimistic attitude of Viktor, this book taught me that human kindness can be found in all groups even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn.
We’re all the same but what differentiate us is our values. No matter what the situations, Viktor taught me that we are free. Free to choose. My favourite quote in the book is “He who has a why to live, can bear with almost any how.” Do you have something you want to achieve? Someone who loves you and you’d like to spend the rest of your life with that person? Then choose to look beyond the present bad situations. Your why is bigger than the how.
This is a must read book that I highly recommend.