Man’s Search for Meaning

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Man’s Search for Meaning is about a Jewish author, Victor Frankl, and his experience in a concentration camp and his attempts to understand the trauma from that experience and those alike to help himself and others overcome these sorts of situations. During this time, Frankl was a psychiatrist in Vienna.

Despite his Jewish faith, he was protected from arrest for a time because of his medical profession. He was offered the opportunity to get a visa and come to The United States, but he chose to stay in Austria, which was Nazi based, to be near his parents. Unfortunately, he and his family were arrested and taken to Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp. Frankl was fortunate to be considered young and strong enough to be given the opportunity to work as a slave laborer rather than being killed in one of the gas chambers.

In the first half of the novel, Frankl gives us a perspective of the experiences that Frankl underwent during the war and in the concentration camps. His strong desire to live and his remarkably good fortune helped him survive during this hard, traumatic time.

After the citizens were free from the concentration camp, he returned to his work in psychotherapy influenced by two great questions: How had he and others he knew in the camps managed to maintain their will to live? What kept them alive and sane in conditions in which literally millions died in hopeless despair? Working on these profound questions of life and death led him to develop a whole new branch of psychotherapy that went beyond the works of previous psychotherapists.

During the second half of the novel, Frankl describes his methods of “logotherapy”, which is a form of psychotherapy that tries to help clients find meaning in their life. The title of the book shows what Frankl learned from being in a concentration camp: being starved, physically beaten, overworked, and constantly thrown with death threats.

During this difficult time, he came to the realization that man can and will survive even the most extreme conditions if he or she has a strong reason to live: a purpose, drive, or meaning in life that motivates them. There are three main principles that Frankl listed in this novel about how individuals can press forward through these hard and traumatic times. First, is the drive for achievement; second, the motivation provided by showing love; third, the courage and dignity of our spirits in times of trial.

I know that having the drive of achievement is a real motivator for me in difficult times. I have never had to face something quite as spirit breaking as Frankl’s trials, of course, but I know that when times get tough for me, I set myself goals to be able to get out of the less fortunate situations.


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Man’s Search for Meaning. (2020, Sep 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/mans-search-for-meaning/

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