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Man's search for meaning : an…

Man's search for meaning : an introduction to logotherapy (original 1946; edition 1992)

by Viktor E. Frankl

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10,449203439 (4.26)184
In this work, a Viennese psychiatrist tells his grim experiences in a German concentration camp which led him to logotherapy, an existential method of psychiatry. This work has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 the author, a psychiatrist labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the stories of his many patients, he argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. His theory, known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (meaning), holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.… (more)
Title:Man's search for meaning : an introduction to logotherapy
Authors:Viktor E. Frankl
Info:Boston : Beacon Press, c1992.
Collections:Your library, printbooks
Tags:owned, read, printbook

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Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl (Author) (1946)

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» See also 184 mentions

English (189)  Spanish (8)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (202)
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
The overview about his history and the interface with logotherapy is amazing! I believe that helped me a lot. ( )
  brunoalano | Mar 22, 2020 |
I refrain from giving this book a star rating. I believe it would be disingenuous to do so since I don't think this is a whole and singular body of work, but two different beasts mashed together. I'll explain.

The first half of the book is the recounting of his experience in nazi concentration camps. That is something I cannot have an opinion on. It was something horrible to experience and I think everybody should be informed about the realities of the holocaust either through this book or others. This was the better part of the book for me.

The second half of the book is a completely different beast in my opinion. His experiences in the concentration camp lead him to create a new branch of psychotherapy he calls "logotherapy".
This becomes a lens through which he views everything then on. He distorts and cherry picks parts of his professional life to fit through this self imposed lens. I don't know enough about psychology or psychoanalysis to disprove his theories, but in 2018 I find it difficult to take someone seriously when they have so obviously been biased , especially someone that spends so much time self-aggrandizing.

My belief is that he used his rare position (a psychotherapist that spent time as a prisoner in a concentration camp) to create a theory heavily based on personal experiences and traumas and present it as a scientific discovery. I think this book needs to be viewed more as a philosophical book and a lot less as a practical guide to living your life.

Another issue I have with the second half of the book is... why? Why write this book in this manner and give it this title? The book's title clearly aims for people in search of a meaning to their lives. This book spends 60-70% of it explaining how important finding a meaning is and how many problems appear from not having a clear meaning in life but does not do anything to actually help you get closer to finding a meaning (in my opinion). So who is this book exactly for? If the people reading this book are already in search of a meaning then reading it is not just "preaching to the choir", but more like "throwing gasoline on an already burning fire".

Is this book good? Yes, definitely better than modern "self-help" bullshit.
Is this a generational masterpiece of philosophical and psychological breakthroughs? Color me incredulous.
  parzivalTheVirtual | Mar 22, 2020 |
Judging from the title, I was expecting the book to be completely philosophical, so I was surprised to know that the major part of the book was a historical account of the author facing Nazi persecution.
This was the first time that I was reading about the Holocaust in such detail, and terror was the very first emotion it evoked in me. To get to know about the horrors from a psychiatrist was extremely enlightening, nevertheless.

The prisoners were granted no dignity. They themselves had lost most of their humanity in the struggle for survival. However, the fact that some of them managed to see the light, is a testimony of the human spirit.
The author describes how he tried to see the silver lining in every situation, and be grateful for the tiniest of things (like getting soup ladled out from the bottom of the pot, to get the few peas lurking down there).

The following excerpt seemed especially striking to me. Changing one's viewpoint to an observer, a survivor rather than a victim.
I became disgusted with the state of affairs which compelled me, daily and hourly, to think of only such trivial things. I forced my thoughts to turn to another subject. Suddenly I saw myself standing on the platform of a well-lit, warm and pleasant lecture room. In front of me sat an attentive audience on comfortable upholstered seats. I was giving a lecture on the psychology of the concentration camp! All that oppressed me at that moment became objective, seen and described from the remote viewpoint of science. By this method I succeeded somehow in rising above the situation, above the sufferings of the moment, and I observed them as if they were already of the past. Both I and my troubles became the object of an interesting psychoscientific study undertaken by myself.
It sounds terrific but can anyone be expected to be so level-headed in such dire moments?

There were many instances that made me queasy, like the following scene, where the author describes how the dead were treated:
All this I watched with unconcern. Eventually, I asked the "nurse" to remove the body. When he decided to do so, he took the corpse by its legs, allowing it to drop into the small corridor between the two rows of boards which were the beds for the fifty typhus patients, and dragged it across the bumpy earthen floor toward the door. The two steps which led up into the open air always constituted a problem for us, since we were exhausted from a chronic lack of food. After a few months' stay in the camp, we could not walk up those steps, which were each about six inches high, without putting our hands on the door jambs to pull ourselves up. The man with the corpse approached the steps. Wearily he dragged himself up. Then the body: first the feet, then the trunk, and finally—with an uncanny rattling noise— the head of the corpse bumped up the two steps.

The book deals with philosophy too. The meaning of life. The following quote recurs quite a few times:
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

The author argues that every single person is unique and can't be replaced. Hence, it is his responsibility to fulfill his destiny; to bear the inevitable suffering with dignity, and persevere.

The surreal experience of being finally liberated from the "hell" made for a very interesting read. One would presume that after leaving such a place, absolutely nothing could feel bad. But as the author describes, the survivors feel bitterness, aggression, disillusionment. The author compares their sudden liberation to be the cause of something he calls "the psychological counterpart of the bends".

The book's second part presents "Logotherapy in a Nutshell", which tbqh, was very boring. One of the reasons being that I, for one, am not convinced by anecdotal evidence. I tried my very best to slog through it somehow but eventually gave up. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
( )
  Govindap11 | Mar 21, 2020 |
recommended by Karen M. 2-10
  Tammyhil | Mar 18, 2020 |
Pure brilliance! ( )
  JCGirl | Mar 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (59 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frankl, Viktor E.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kushner, Harold S.Forewordmain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lasch, IlseTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winslade, William J.Afterwordmain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Allport, Gordon WPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Šuvajevs, IgorsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the memory of my mother
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This book does not claim to be an account of facts and events but of personal experiences, experiences which millions of prisoners have suffered time and again.
He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How
Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning.
Man's inner strangth may raise him about his outward fate
Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you feel and do about what happens to you.
Life is meaningful and that we must learn to see life as meaningful despite our circumstances.
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Beacon Press

3 editions of this book were published by Beacon Press.

Editions: 080701429X, 0807014265, 0807014273

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