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Man's Search for Meaning [Kindle Edition]

Viktor E. Frankl , Harold S. Kushner , William J. Winslade
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,870 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

At the time of Frankl's death in 1997, Man's Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey for the Library of Congress that asked readers to name a "book that made a difference in your life" found Man's Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America. 

Beacon Press, the original English-language publisher of Man's Search for Meaning, is issuing this new paperback edition with a new Foreword, biographical Afterword, jacket, price, and classroom materials to reach new generations of readers.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is among the most influential works of psychiatric literature since Freud. The book begins with a lengthy, austere, and deeply moving personal essay about Frankl's imprisonment in Auschwitz and other concentration camps for five years, and his struggle during this time to find reasons to live. The second part of the book, called "Logotherapy in a Nutshell," describes the psychotherapeutic method that Frankl pioneered as a result of his experiences in the concentration camps. Freud believed that sexual instincts and urges were the driving force of humanity's life; Frankl, by contrast, believes that man's deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose. Frankl's logotherapy, therefore, is much more compatible with Western religions than Freudian psychotherapy. This is a fascinating, sophisticated, and very human book. At times, Frankl's personal and professional discourses merge into a style of tremendous power. "Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is," Frankl writes. "After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips."

Review

One of the ten most influential books in America. —Library of Congress/Book-of-the-Month Club "Survey of Lifetime Readers"

"Viktor Frankl's timeless formula for survival. One of the classic psychiatric texts of our time, Man's Search for Meaning is a meditation on the irreducible gift of one's own counsel in the face of great suffering, as well as a reminder of the responsibility each of us owes in valuing the community of our humanity. There are few wiser, kinder, or more comforting challenges than Frankl's." —Patricia J. Williams, author of Seeing a Color-Blind Future: The Paradox of Race

"Dr. Frankl's words have a profoundly honest ring, for they rest on experiences too deep for deception. . . . A gem of a dramatic narrative, focused upon the deepest of human problems." —Gordon W. Allport, from the Preface

"An enduring work of survival literature." —The New York Times

"[Man's Search for Meaning] might well be prescribed for everyone who would understand our time." —Journal of Individual Psychology

"An inspiring document of an amazing man who was able to garner some good from an experience so abysmally bad. . . . Highly recommended." —Library Journal

"One of the great books of our time." —Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

"One of the outstanding contributions to psychological thought in the last fifty years." —Carl R. Rogers (1959)

Product Details

  • File Size: 1371 KB
  • Print Length: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009U9S6FI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
674 of 694 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant account.... November 25, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The first section of this book (which makes up over half of the text) consist of Victor Frankl's account of his experiences in the concentration camp. This section seems unique among the Holocaust accounts that I've seen and read because Dr. Frankl approaches the topic from a psychological perspective. He discusses the ways in which the different prisoners react to their (note: men and women were seperated at the camps, so Frankl is mainly disscussing his experiences with the men in Auschwitz) imprissonment. He writes about the psychological effects of being completely dehumanized; of losing even your name, and becoming simply a number. Also he disscusses the effects of not being able to contact loved ones, or even know is they are still living. Another issue that Dr. Frankl talks about in this book is the idea that none of the prisoners of the concentration camp had an idea as to when there imprissonment would end (if ever). Thus, they were faced with the thought of living the rest of their lives as workers at the camps. Dr. Frankl discusses how people can find meaning to life in these conditions. He also describes how finding meaning in life, or a reason to live, was extraordinarilly important to surviving the camp.
One of the most interesting, and disturbing, issues in the book was the idea of the Capo. These were were people put in charge of their fellow prisoners, in order to keep them in line. Dr. Frankl describes these people as, often, being more harsh than the actual guards. This seems to be a disturbing lesson in the abuse of power. This also goes along with Dr. Frankl's discussion of how the camps brought out the true personality of the people within it (after all the social trapping had been stripped away): The cretins, the saints, and all of those in between.
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216 of 220 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It has given me hope August 21, 1999
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I am 41 years old with two small children. I was finding it hard to find something to hold on to after getting the news. This book has helped put the cancer in perspective and is giving me the courage and encouragement to keep on living...no matter what. And if I die, then there has to be meaning in my life before then. I am now beginning to understand that I should not ask what can I get out of life, but what does life expect from me.
This is a WONDERFUL and INSPIRATIONAL book that I recommend for anyone suffering from any tragic cirucmstance...cancer, death in the family, divorce, etc. All of the phsychiatric nonsense might help (I doubt it), but this book will get you on the right road.
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291 of 307 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to be Worthy of One's Suffering September 1, 2006
Format:Paperback
Frankl, who survived the concentration camps, writes that suffering is inevitable and that avoiding suffering is futile. Rather, one should be worthy of one's suffering and make meaning of it instead of surrendering to nihilism, bitterness and despair. He uses poetic, moving anecdotes from the concentration camps to illustrate those souls who find a deeper humanity from their suffering or who become animals relegated to nothing more than teeth-clenched self-preservation. Though not specifically religious, this masterpiece has a religious purpose--to help us find meaning. This book succeeds immeasurably.

*** Why no voting buttons? We do
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350 of 371 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book could change your life January 8, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dr. Frankl's logotherapy is straightforward and easy to understand. It is also a useful antidote to the rather frightening drift in psychology during the past two decades toward strict biological determinism.
This particular work is one I keep at hand and re-read on a regular basis. I read it for the first time a few months after I started medical treatment and therapy for life-long depression. I get more from it each time I go back to it.
Logotherapy manages an incredible balance. It does not put man himself at the center of the universe, thus avoiding the kind of narcissistic self-reflection common to much of the therapeutic literature today. Yet, it does not sweep man aside as irrelevant. Instead, Frankl argues that we have an incredible power to shape our attitudes and responses to the challenges life presents us and that we inevitably grow thanks to these challenges.
This is a quick read and could conceivably change your life. Man is more than the sum of his biology and his environment. We inevitably choose to be who we are. Frankl's argument is that, if we choose wisely, we can triumph even in tragedy. It's a truth many of us have lost sight of in our cynicism.
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144 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much food for thought January 16, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Several years ago a friend had an operation for a cancerous growth behind his eye yet today is well and tells of the importance of the right mental attitude when facing adversity. Another friend faces a similar experience but appears to be in the process of succumbing in ignorance of the importance of mental attitude. Seeking guidance as to what I might do to help, I turned to this book.
After recounting the horrors of everyday life in a work camp - the initial selection process in which 90% were sent to the gas chambers while 10% were kept to extract the last ounce of work as slaves for construction firms; the Capos selected from the most brutal who had lost all scruples in order to save their life; how everything was subservient to keeping oneself and one's closest friends alive - Viktor Frankl tells of the psychological problems they met.
The most important seems to be the hope of release as shown by the very high death rate in his camp in the week between Christmas 1944 and new year 1945 which had no explanation in food, treatment, weather, disease or working conditions; it was that the majority had lived in the naïve hope that they would be home again by Christmas. In the absence of encouraging news, the prisoners lost courage; disappointment overcame them and their powers of resistance dropped. Frankl noticed that it was the men who comforted others, who gave away their last piece of bread who survived longest and who offered proof that everything can be taken but one thing - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.
In the camp every decision determined whether or not you would submit to loss of inner freedom. The sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision and not of camp influences alone.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Book was great.
Besides having my credit card info stolen after ordering books.... Book was great.
Published 13 hours ago by stacey
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful across lines
Man's Search for Meaning will be helpful both professionally and personally.
This book introduced me to Logotherapy, Which makes more sense to me than any other theory on... Read more
Published 20 hours ago by Sharon
5.0 out of 5 stars Meaning in our lives
A truly moving book. I have learnt a lot about how to live one's life. I hope this book gives meaning to many more lives.
Published 1 day ago by V. Ramani
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A book everyone should read.
Published 1 day ago by Tonya Fisher
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Have to read it first
Published 3 days ago by Chere High Robles
5.0 out of 5 stars I read a book every couple of weeks and this ...
I read a book every couple of weeks and this is one of my all time favorites. It's a short read but very profound. It's written by Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and philosopher. Read more
Published 3 days ago by easy e
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
Good Read!
Published 3 days ago by ClayClay
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Thank you!
Published 5 days ago by sarah mcelligott
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone who has ever asked what is the meaning of this life I live.
An inspirational and aspirational book about the ability of the human being to overcome and to truly find meaning in his or her life.
Published 5 days ago by Justin T.
5.0 out of 5 stars classic must read
A compelling story and insights worth knowing. Frankl was clearly an extraordinary man who had extraordinary experiences that resulted in an approach to living.
Published 5 days ago by Mel Bergstein
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