- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: RHUK; Exported edition (7 February 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781846041242
- ISBN-13: 978-1846041242
- ASIN: 1846041244
- Product Dimensions: 11 x 1 x 17.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 743 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Man's Search for Meaning Paperback – 7 Feb 2008
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"An enduring work of survival literature" (New York Times)
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"His works are essential reading for those who seek to understand the human condition." (Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks)
"Influential and eloquent." (Jewish Chronicle)
"Perhaps the most significant thinking since Freud and Adler." (The American Journal of Psychiatry)
About the Author
Viktor Frankl was born in 1905 and was a Viennese psychiatrist and neurologist who developed the theory of logotherapy. Logotherapy is a type of existential analysis. He was a student of the University of Vienna where he studied medicine, focusing on the subjects of suicide and depression. Although he was influenced by Alfred Adler and Sigmund Freud, his work in the field of psychiatry was very different from theirs. He has won many illustrious awards in his time. He passed away on September 2, 1997.
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Well writing a review for this kind of extraordinary book is a big audacity for me. however here I’m, trying to give some brief review of the book.
The book is basically divided into three parts, the first one describes the way the Jews prisoners were treated in the Nazi Concentration Camps and how their lifestyle was. In the second part, the author described the basics of Logotherapy, a way of treatment of the Psychotherapeutic Patients. And finally, in the third part, he described what he actually meant by Man’s Search for meaning.
Being a Jew, the author was transferred to the Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps during the Nazi occupation in Austria. Here, in the first part of the book, the author described his days in those concentration camps, where is were no chance of seeing the morning sun in the next day. And this happened every day. He described the way the SS guards used to treat the prisoners, the corruption prevailed in the camps, the malnutrition, the lifestyle of the camp Jews etc. The way he described the tortures the prisoners suffered, would surely bring tears to your eyes. During his description, he also pointed out the psychological condition of the other comrades in those camps. When most of the prisoners lost all hope of his life, some of them still kept the faith, that good days were coming.
In the second part, the author basically described the Logotherapy Techniques. And the most interesting part of the book is the third part. Here the author describes “Man’s search for meaning”. We, the human beings on this planet are living for a purpose. Until & unless we can’t find the purpose of our life, there is no reason for us to be here alive. Most of the prisoners in the camps lost all of their hopes and then died because they lost their purpose, as per the author. It is a must-read book for all I think.
The book also consists of few life-changing quotes which I liked in the book and would like to share:
1. For success, like happiness, can’t be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.
2. There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or you have none to lose.
3. Suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great of little. Therefore the ‘size’ of human suffering is absolutely relative.
4. No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.
5. The human being is completely and unavoidably influenced by his surroundings.
6. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life can’t be completed
7. Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.
8. There is no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.
9. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ” how”.
10. The body has fewer inhibitions than the mind.
11. No one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them.
This book has two parts:
1.Experiences in a Concentration Camp.
2.Logotherapy in a Nutshell
The second part is so impactful and unique that you will re-read this book. The first part mainly is the autobiographical account of Sir, Frankl and the best part is both parts mutually support their credibility.
The way he has poured all the pain in this book is not so easy and that too after experiencing it, I was literally shocked because firstly, I was unaware of the term “Holocaust”, maybe I have read before somewhere in History but I was unaware while reading and Secondly, I had never come across something like this.
He has talked about everything related to life in this book and you know what the best part is even after so much pain, I felt sad but I wasn’t demotivated, I could relate it and with each page-turning, what I found was ‘I am into the book’, suffering all this but I wasn’t tackling all the worst situation in my life as he did.
Suddenly I started understanding that what life is? what suffering is? and what surviving is? and where am I lacking?
So, in another way, I discovered the answer to three most important questions which I wanted to be answered since maturity.
I came across a new word “Logotherapy” and I loved that section so much that I will re-read this book.
In one line, I learned a lot from this book, which I can further practice to live a peaceful and beautiful life ahead. And this what makes this book worth reading.
I quote some of the lines from the author which can show the gravity of their sufferings, “It is very difficult for an outsider to grasp how very little value was placed on human life in camp………….Those who have not gone through a similar experience can hardly conceive the soul-destroying mental conflict and clashes of will power which a famished man experiences…………Reality dimmed, and all efforts and all emotions were centered on one task: preserving one’s own life and that of the other fellow………..Step by step we had to become accustomed to a terrible and immense horror…………The most depressing influence of all was that a prisoner could not know how long his term of imprisonment would be. He had been given no date for his release……….Actually a prison term was not only uncertain but unlimited……….It was impossible to foresee whether or when, if at all, this form of existence would end……….The suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little.”
The mind set which kept the author alive is better read in his own words. He says, “In spite of all the enforced physical and mental primitiveness of the life in a concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen………..What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life……..it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us…..we could say that most men in a concentration camp believed that the real opportunities of life had passed. Yet, in reality, there was an opportunity and a challenge. One could make victory of those experiences, turning life into an inner triumph, or one could ignore the challenge and simply vegetate, as did majority of prisoners.”
For outsiders, it’s very easy to talk about Optimism while sitting in a comfortable couch, with a roof on top, food on table, surrounded by loved ones with a secured life. It’s easy to talk when life favorably looks upon us and the weather is bright.
But the Optimism carries weight when it comes from the mouth of a person who had come out alive from a virtual hell. It is indeed an achievement to hold on to dear life with hope when all the odds were stacked against him, when he never knew that he will live to see freedom. When such a person speaks of what kept him alive and kicking that he “beat the odds” and came out victorious, it is a lesson for all of us.
I have no hesitation in giving 5 stars