Book: Man’s Search for Meaning
Genre/Subject: Meaning, Psychology.
Publication Date: 1946
Refereed From: The reading list of Tom Bilyeu.
Author: Victor E.Frankl
Brief Summary: Man’s search for meaning is based on the real life experience of the neurologist and psychiatrist Victor E.Frankl, who had survived four brutal concentration camps of the Nazi Germany. Being a psychiatrist he gives an in depth account of the lives of the people subjected to the ill treatment of the camps. Through his book he tries to convey that meaning can be found even during the worst suffering, and that pursuit of meaning is what keeps us pushing and gives us hope.
This book has been an eye opener, I had not yet known the horrors and ill treatment that people were subjected to in the concentration camps. (Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its allies established more than 44,000 camps and other incarceration sites. The perpetrators used these sites for a range of purposes, including forced labor, detention of people thought to be enemies of the state, and for mass murder.)
The writing feels authentic and filled with pain and emotion, but not without hope and a will to survive. Being in the field of psychology, the author has tried to give an objective viewpoint, but its often difficult when you are subjected to such an extreme life of oppression and are in an atmosphere of complete disregard to humanity.
The people were subjected to forced labor, with least amounts of food just enough to get through, very little clothing in the extreme cold climates, and absolutely inhuman treatment by the superiors in the camps.
The author shows how the experiences were and how they managed their day to day struggles when the worry on the top of their mind was surviving to be able to see another day.
He says that around 1 in 20 people who went to the concentration camps survived, and the ones who survived had a strong why, either they had someone whom they loved intensely or their work life (valuable research) was waiting for them.
He tries to convey that we can find meaning even in suffering, and we create our worlds by the meaning we assign to things and the perspectives we hold of the world.
Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The great task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life. Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person, as Frankl held on to the image of his wife through the darkest days in Auschwitz), and in courage in difficult times. Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.Man’s search for meaning by Victor E.Frankl
Towards the ending, the author goes on to talk about Logotherapy: the pursuit of meaning in one’s life (and the psychology related to it).
He says that every psychology analysis must have in part treatment via logotherapy. As people often feel lost when they don’t seem to know why they are doing whatever it is that they are doing.
Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them. In other words, man is ultimately self-determining. Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.Man’s search for meaning by Victor E.Frankl
This book makes us see the that humans are capable of surviving through the worst of times, and that we are extraordinary meaning making machines and we thrive when we have a purpose. But this purpose is often not given to us, we must decide it and pursue it with all our hearts.
Having a meaning or a purpose in life enables us to survive the worst of times. This meaning can be found in our work, in love, or via courage in suffering.
A Student of life.
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