Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Emil Frankl

This is a book on psychology and based on the concept of Logotherapy. The basic premise of this concept is one ought to search for meaning in their life irrespective of the situation. Moreover, it does say that there lies a meaning for whatever happens.

Viktor sets the stage before delving into this concept, by elaborating his utterly inhumane experiences as a prisoner for three years before liberating, hoping across four different Nazi concentration camps primarily at Auschuwitz. It is just bewildering that how a human can be that cruel against a fellow human.

Viktor included, the camp size was 2000 who were merely considered to be a herd of numbered beings. Starvation, frost biting cold, delirium, typhus, neurosis were the keywords on which the prisoners life used to wander around. This state of being was only possible because of the barbaric acts by camp officials where in the extreme ones included performing euthnasia in gas chambers. In this perennial fight between life and death and the things to be done to attract the former, was the only everyday task of an inmate.

On these lines the author subtly gears up on the general mind set of an inmate and his in particular. To put it in a single line, Viktor states that the chance of survival was more in the inmates who were able to find meaning in their suffering.

Taking his experience into account he introduces Logotherapy and how it has helped him survive. The school of thought which Logotherapy preaches is “Will to Meaning”. It states that there lies meaning in three things.

  • In ones work
  • In love
  • In suffering

So, the general essence of meaning here is to employ a different thought process depending on the situation one is in, so that the progress of the task becomes trivial and evident. As the author quotes Nietzsche,

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how


As a whole, the second half covers the general concept, the terminologies and Logotherapy as a technique. This is added up with instances of how Logotherapy helped Viktor’s patients deduce meaning in their suffering. Yes, Viktor is a psychiatrist and neurologist.

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