Man’s Search for Meaning3 min read

Published by Zach on

Rating: 9/10

What is the meaning of life? Man’s Search for Meaning provides a very good answer to that question. Victor Frankl’s masterpiece describes how he survived Auschwitz, a one in twenty-eight chance, through mindset as opposed to physical ability. One particular story stood out to me: In the depths of one of the worst situations known to man, the Holocaust, Victor saved two cases of would-be suicide, by helping them find a meaning for living.

The Review

The reason this book did not receive a 10/10 is the last section on Logotherapy. I find this section interesting to read about, but of much lower quality, and of questionable accuracy, compared to the gut-wrenching story that was Victor Frankl’s experience in the Holocaust.

The first 100 pages of the book, however, are gripping. The tales are grotesque and depressing, sobering and startling.

Part II (“Logotherapy In a Nutshell”) starts on page 97.

The book details Frankl’s journey to the concentration camp, Auschwitz, his suffering and survival, and his eventual liberation. I do not want to give too much away as any attempt at a description of the horror’s experienced by Frankl, and his amazing mindset during it would be a disservice to the book. Trust me, read it.

Lessons

  • You always have the freedom to choose how you respond to a situation. You cannot always control what happens to you in life, but you can always control how you feel and act in response to what happens to you.
  • Don’t aim for success, because success is like happiness, it cannot be pursued. Instead, let both ensue while pursuing a dedication greater than yourself or as a product of fully surrendering to someone else such as a loved one.
  • Suffering will always be present in life, if you believe there is meaning in life, therefore, there must be meaning in suffering.
  • Every person’s destiny is different than another’s. Therefore, every situation is, essentially, different from one another and there can be a unique response to every situation.
  • Frankl once asked his students to define the meaning of his own life and one student correctly guessed as verified by Frankl, “The meaning of your life is to help others find the meaning of theirs.”

Quotes

  • He who has a Why to live can bear almost any How
  • The salvation of man is through love and in love.
  • “affectus, qui passio est, desinit esse passio simulatque eius claram et distinctam foramus ideam.” Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it (Spinoza).
  • I remember two cases of would-be suicide, which bore a striking similarity to each other. Both men had talked of their intentions to commit suicide. Both used the typical argument – they had nothing more to expect from life. In both cases it was a question of getting them to realize that life was still expecting something from them; something in the future was expected of them. We found, in fact, that for one it was his child whom he adored and who was waiting for him in a foreign country. For the other, it was a thing, not a person. This man was a scientist and had written a series of books which still needed to be finished. His work could not be done by anyone else, any more than a person could ever take the place of the father in his child’s affections.
  • Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!
  • We can discover the meaning of life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering. The first, the way of achievement or accomplishment, is quite obvious.
  • “The neurotic who learns to laugh at himself may be on the way to self-management, perhaps to cure.” – Gordon W. Allport
Categories: Book Notes

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