Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome.
If there was ever a story that made suicide a reasonable option, or gave anyone an excuse to say that life was meaningless — I think it would be this one. Yet having been lowered into the pits of humanity, Victor Frankl emerged an optimist. His reasoning was that even in the most terrible circumstances, people still have the freedom to choose how they see their circumstances and create meaning out of them… what the ancient Stoics referred to as the “last freedom.” The evil of torture is not so much the physical torment, but the active attempt to extinguish freedom.
The book has three main parts:
- Experiences in a concentration camp – a theoretical essay
- Logotherapy in a nutshell
- The case for a tragic optimism
In my opinion, this book is way (way!) more than just another pump-up book about motivation — Man’s Search for Meaning is an intellectual masterpiece that inspires you to take control over your psychology, thus taking control of your life.
He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.
Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. 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.
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