Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

I went into reading this book believing I had been hardened by history, Hollywood dramatizations, and my own studies to not be affected by the tales from yet one more survivor of the Holocast. I was mistaken. While the book does not dwell on the horror that imprisoning a human for an indefinite period of time with the threat of death looming constantly, it could not peel away the layers that we wrap ourselves protectively in without this setting. 

The concept of logotherapy, while new in terminology, was not a new concept to me. Humans have made it nearly a pastime these days to seek out happiness these days. Life coaches have taken the place of psychologists in an effort to help their clients find meaning in their existence. And yet, the truth is lost to them. We aren’t meant to “find” happiness but to be endlessly striving for it. A purpose, rather than a completed action. 

Logotherapy says the meaning can be uncovered by:

  • Creating a work or doing a deed
  • Experiencing something or encountering someone
  • The attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering 

The actual work, deed, experience or attitude is left to the individual to discover.

The author shares his own experiences as a concentration camp survivor, experiences of others he met while he was imprisoned, and examples of people he came in contact with whose lives were changed by logotherapy. Although originally written in 1922, the problems we have finding meaning have not changed one iota. There is still a headlong tumble into new experiences, new loves, distractions, and numbing through meaningless work or substance abuse, that keep so many from finding true purpose. 

There was much to ponder in Man’s Search for Meaning, so much so that I believe I’ll give it another read through. As should you.

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