Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl


One of the best books I have read so far is Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Wonderful book!!

Frankl was a Holocaust survivor who wrote about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp.

* Everything was taken away from these prisoners.

* They were stripped of their clothing, their pictures, and their personal belongings.

* They even took away their names and gave them numbers.

* Frankl was number 119,104.

An example of Frankl’s idea of finding meaning in the midst of extreme suffering is found in his account of an experience he had while working in the harsh conditions of the Auschwitz concentration camp:

… We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor’s arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory….”

I’m absolutely convinced that the most important choice you make everyday is your attitude and with it, you make your decisions!

He is a real-life exemplar who proved that the adversity can bring the opportunity at last if you choose the right way to take it. As a result, he developed a new thought of school in psychotherapy called logotherapy which is considered the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy” after Freud’s psychoanalysis and Adler’s individual psychology. It is a type of existentialist analysis that focuses on a will to meaning as opposed to Adler’s Nietzschean doctrine of will to power or Freud’s will to pleasure. Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one’s life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans.

This book is available at Central library, TU and may also be found in major book shops in Kathmandu.

Rating: 5 stars.

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