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Man's Search For Ultimate Meaning Paperback – July, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

Viktor Frankl, author of the smash bestseller Man's Search for Meaning, offers a more straightforward alternative to traditional Freudian psychoanalysis: one's problems may be rooted in a failure to find a meaning in life beyond one's interior world. The basis for his interpretation, however, is not so straightforward. It lies in Frankl's existential analysis, plumbing for the reasons that people have repressed their consciences, their love, their creativity. By legitimizing a spiritual aspect of the human mind, Frankl has separated us definitively from the animal kingdom, but it is still up to each of us to rise to our human potential. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

These nine essays comprise a kind of sequel to the author's famous foundation work of ``logotherapy,'' Man's Search for Meaning, with a focus on a person's spiritual rather than existential striving. Vienna-based psychiatrist and neurologist Frankl, the author of 31 books, makes some profound observations about the nature of religiosity, awareness of which he believes must be incorporated into psychology. For example, he says that humans have a ``spiritual unconscious,'' that each person has a latent intuition and yearning for the transcendent, and that this is often activated when a person must deal with the ``tragic triad--pain, guilt and death.'' Unfortunately, Frankl's prose never quite brings his important subject to life; it's too academic, with a dearth of vivid anecdotal material or case studies. And it sometimes lapses into Latinisms and abstruse formulations, as in his reference to ``pre-reflective ontological self-understanding,'' when what Frankl really means is ``the wisdom of the heart.'' As important, the author's notion of the transcendent is so broad as to be almost meaningless; thus, he defines God as ``the partner of our most intimate soliloquies,'' a definition that seems to involve a kind of theological sophistry which has little if anything to say about a person's responsibility to others. At the same time, Frankl's notion of faith is black and white; he states, ``I personally think that either belief in God is unconditional or is not belief at all. If it is unconditional, it will stand and face the fact that six million died in the Nazi holocaust,'' as if belief could never coexist with doubt, as if any theology could ``stand and face'' the shattering reality of mechanistic mass murder. Frankl's question about ultimate meaning and a few of his observations are profound, yet much else in this sometimes rambling book disappointingly stops at the surface. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738203548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738203546
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Viktor E. Frankl was professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna Medical School until his death in 1997. He was the founder of what has come to be called the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy (after Freud's psychoanalysis and Adler's individual psychology)--the school of logotherapy.

Born in 1905, Dr. Frankl received the degrees of Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Vienna. During World War II he spent three years at Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps.

Dr. Frankl first published in 1924 in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and has since published twenty-six books, which have been translated into nineteen languages, including Japanese and Chinese. He was a visiting professor at Harvard, Duquesne, and Southern Methodist Universities. Honorary Degrees have been conferred upon him by Loyola University in Chicago, Edgecliff College, Rockford College, and Mount Mary College, as well as by universities in Brazil and Venezuela. He was a guest lecturer at universities throughout the world and made fifty-one lecture tours throughout the United States alone. He was President of the Austrian Medical Society of Psychotherapy.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 95 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
Holocaust survivor Frankl earned the right to teach us how to transcend ourselves and find "ultimate meaning". He was a contemporary of Freud who was able to take Freud to task for naturalism and reductionism which "undermines and erodes the enthusiasm of youth". Frankl has a lot to tell us about how to avoid the neurotic train wreck many of us are headed for. He points out that an existential vacuum (meaninglessness and emptyness) is growing in our culture as man "Now, knowing neither what he must do nor what he should do, he sometimes does not even know what he basically wishes to do. Instead, he wishes to do what other people do-which is conformism-or he does what other people wish him to do-which is totalitarianism." Frankl tells us "Man is responsible for fulfilling the meaning of his life." He contends "man is not he who poses the question, What is the meaning of life? But he who is asked this question, for life itself poses it to him. And man has to answer to life by answering for life; he has to respond by being responsible;" and "Being human means being confronted continually with situations, each of which is at once a chance and a challenge, giving us a "chance" to fulfill ourselves by meeting the "challenge" to fulfill it's meaning.
Get it; read it; study it!
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By calmly on May 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
"We psychiatrists are neither teachers nor preachers but have to learn from the man in the street, from his ... self-understanding, what being human is all about". Of all those who applied existentialism to psychotherapy and to the efforts of human beings to help themselves, perhaps none has done so with as much wisdom as Viktor Frankl.

Although I didn't connect with the first 50 or so pages of this book, after that I was challenged and inspired by Frankl. His concerns, the "existential vacuum", the depressing impact of an "indoctrination into reductionism", the irreducibility of our experience, "responsibility as the essence of existence", these are well worth being reminded of.

That a "machine model" or "rat model" is not the best way to view human beings, does it seem such a revelation? Frankl observed how some young people had begun to view their ideals and altruism as hangups, how they had been engaging in fruitless "hidden motive" games. He wondered if behavioral scientific therapeutic programs didn't fail to take into account the specialness of people to find meaning, to transcend and to detach themselves from their situations. He called for responsibility and a recognition that we all proceed into the unknowable.

Frankl's approach is quite different from that of Freud, Jung, Skinner or even Rogers (Frankl at least credits in this book Rogers with "de-ideologizing psychotherapy"). His work still lives on, as for example in the United States through the Franklian Psychology (Logotherapy/Existential Analysis)doctoral program offered through Graduate Theological Foundation.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sahra Badou on May 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed parts of this book, but not all of it, for I couldn't understand most of it. This is a book to read more than once to really understand, unless you are a psychologist. I will certainly read it again; I am sure I missed a lot of important and useful information.

A lot of the material has to do with the interpretation of dreams, and about the theories of Freud. I also found the book too technical for the average reader, and found it confusing at times. For example, the author says, "Here it is not the ego that becomes conscious of the id but rather the self that becomes conscious of itself." I did take a few psychology courses back in school, but I still find such statements difficult to grasp and comprehend. Are such statements merely a play with words? Or should an effort be made to understand such statements? And is my understanding of such a statement the correct one as meant by the author? Without some training in psychology I do find some statements and theories hard to grasp.

In a nutshell, the book is about the human need to find meaning in daily life. The author believes that man doesn't ask, "What is the meaning of life?" but rather life asks man that very profound question. That's a very interesting statement, but again, is it just a play with words? Is Life a living entity, or are we the living entities contained in Life? In other words, can Life ask us questions?

For the author, the deep root of human meaning lies not in drives and desires, but in spirituality and responsibility. But what is responsibility, and what is spirituality? We all have different beliefs, and we all have different responsibilities. Is there a unifying global theory for all human beliefs and responsibilities? Such statements made it hard for me to relate to this book.
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84 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Endrizzi on July 26, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Man's Search for Meaning is my bible for life. I so anticipated

digging into Volume 2, couldn't imagine it could get any

better, it didn't.

You need a PHD in Pysch to read the first page and I only

made it to Chapter 4 and I couldn't figure out what he

was even trying to say. The verbage alone requires a

dictionary, but my arm got tired looking up every other


What happened???

His first book was so rich in real life examples and

touching experiences I was filled with tears of joy.

This book is as if Victor lived his whole life in

the ivory tower talking to other suits.

Oh well, vita continua.
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