ז׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ה (January 27, 2015)
“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl‘s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival.
Frankl was born in Vienna into a Jewish family of civil servants (Beamtenfamilie). His interest in psychology surfaced early.
Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl 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. Frankl’s 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.
The “Viktor Frankl Institute” has been founded in Vienna in 1992 by a number of academic friends and family members.
At the time of Frankl’s death in 1997, Man’s Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey for the Library of Congress that asked readers to name a “book that made a difference in your life” found Man’s Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is among the most influential works of psychiatric literature since Freud. The book begins with a lengthy, austere, and deeply moving personal essay about Frankl’s imprisonment in Auschwitz and other concentration camps for five years, and his struggle during this time to find reasons to live.
The second part of the book, called “Logotherapy in a Nutshell,” describes the psychotherapeutic method that Frankl pioneered as a result of his experiences in the concentration camps. Freud believed that sexual instincts and urges were the driving force of humanity’s life; Frankl, by contrast, believes that man’s deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose. Frankl’s logotherapy, therefore, is much more compatible with Western religions than Freudian psychotherapy. This is a fascinating, sophisticated, and very human book. At times, Frankl’s personal and professional discourses merge into a style of tremendous power. “Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is,” Frankl writes. “After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.”
“This particular work is one I keep at hand and re-read on a regular basis. I read it for the first time a few months after I started medical treatment and therapy for life-long depression. I get more from it each time I go back to it. Logotherapy manages an incredible balance. It does not put man himself at the center of the universe, thus avoiding the kind of narcissistic self-reflection common to much of the therapeutic literature today.”
“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl [Kindle Edition] is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad with free Amazon app (download app – here), get Amazon app for BlackBerry – here, for Android – here and for PC– here
File Size: 1159 KB
Print Length: 185 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2006)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Price: $7.83 (Buy now)