Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is one of those books that everyone needs to read in their lifetime. Frankl was imprisoned in 4 different concentration camps during the Holocaust. He survived and not only continued his work on helping people find meaning in their lives but exploded in this area, eventually creating Logotherapy. He chooses in the book to not recount his time in the camps in graphic detail but rather showcases what helped him survive and find the will to continue living. The second part of the book goes into more detail of his logotherapy which is comprised of 3 parts; “creating a work or deed, experiencing something or encountering someone; in other words, meaning can be found not only in work but also in love, and lastly even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing, change himself.” Frankl writes that suffering is unavoidable in life and that there is meaning in it.
I found this book very interesting and a good reminder that if Frankl can find meaning in his time in a concentration camp, anybody can find the meaning in what they are going through. Frankl is also an example of post-traumatic growth which is a term that was coined long after his passing. Post-traumatic growth is seen in individuals who have been through a traumatic stress and come out on the other side even better than they were before. It’s as if the trauma created something wonderful and beautiful. Frankl, a psychiatrist, had begun his work on existentialism before the Holocaust but exploded with it afterwards and could use his own story with others.
I’ve heard from non-therapist readers that Part II is a bit heavy and uninteresting to those not in the field.
Read this book if:
- You are a human being
- Going through or have gone through a difficult time
- Searching for the own meaning in your life
Frankl, V. E. (1959). Man’s Search For Meaning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.