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Prisoners of Our Thoughts: Viktor Frankl's Principles for Discovering Meaning in Life and Work Paperback – July 9, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The late Viktor Frankl's hopeful Man's Search for Meaning emerged from his experience in a Nazi concentration camp. With Frankl's blessing, Pattakos, a cofounder of the Innovation Group consultancy and a former professor of public and business administration, applies Frankl's lessons to corporate America's workplaces. Logotherapy, Frankl's therapeutic approach, says we are free to respond to all aspects of our destiny; Pattakos argues that if we all have a will to meaning, then even if we work for unenlightened companies, we can still "connect meaningfully with others" within the workplace. Finding your sense of humor, giving to others and forgiving, and "de-reflecting" (or shifting your focus of attention) are all strategies for connection; one should consider "ten positive things" when losing a job or taking a pay cut. Pattakos ends each chapter with a "Meaning Moment" and a "Meaning Question," which can seem contrived (how exactly is your work like a "mission"?) and a lot of the advice will feel like familiar workplace etiquette that has been rebranded. Still, Pattakos's is a humane approach that allows for purpose in even the most purposeless-seeming environments, which is surely palliative care—if not a cure—for work ruts. The foreword is by The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Stephen R. Covey.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“This landmark book underscores how the search for meaning is intimately related to and positively influences health improvement at all levels. Reading Prisoners of Our Thoughts is an insightful prescription for promoting health and wellness!”

—Kenneth R. Pelletier, PhD, MD, Professor, University of Arizona and University of California, San Francisco Schools of Medicine; Chairman, American Health Association; and author of The Best Alternative Medicine.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; Second Edition edition (July 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605095249
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605095240
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alex Pattakos, Ph.D., affectionately nicknamed "Dr. Meaning," is widely respected as a modern-day Greek philosopher and pioneer in transformational thinking. He is the co-founder of the Global Meaning Institute ( and co-author with Elaine Dundon of the Greek-inspired book, "The OPA! Way: Finding Joy & Meaning in Everyday Life & Work," which is grounded in Greek philosophy, mythology, and culture. His previous book, "Prisoners of Our Thoughts," is based on the wisdom of his mentor, the world-renown psychiatrist, Dr. Viktor Frankl (author of the classic best-seller, "Man's Search for Meaning"), and includes a Foreword by Dr. Stephen R. Covey (author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"). "Prisoners of Our Thoughts" is currently available in 22 languages and multiple formats.

Dr. Pattakos is a former therapist and mental health administrator, political campaign organizer, community/economic development policy planner, and full-time professor of public and business administration (including graduate program head). He's worked closely with several Presidential administrations in the USA on social and economic policy matters, and served as an adviser to the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He was also one of the initial faculty evaluators for the Innovations in American Government Awards Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and an elected member of the National Council of the American Society for Public Administration. He is a past president of Renaissance Business Associates (RBA), an international, nonprofit association of people committed to elevating the human spirit in the workplace. During his tenure as president, RBA was active in Australia, Canada, Europe, Nigeria, South Africa, and the USA.

Alex understands the challenges facing people in today's uncertain times. Through his public speaking, work with Fortune 500 companies, governments, and nonprofit organizations, and university teaching, Dr. Pattakos has helped people at all levels build their capacities for personal and organizational transformation with a focus on and authentic commitment to meaningful value and goals that make a positive difference in the world. A proud Greek-American (of Cretan heritage), Alex ("Aleko") is now focused on scheduling client speaking engagements, workshops/seminars, and retreats to introduce and apply (with practical tools & techniques) the core lessons of "The OPA! Way" paradigm for personal growth, leadership/executive development, and organizational transformation/performance improvement.

For information about this new paradigm and to join the online OPA! Village, visit:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

240 of 259 people found the following review helpful By Charles Runels Md on May 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book helps make practical a very nebulous but valuable skill. Let me explain:

About 29 years ago, as a teenager, while roaming the Birminham Public Library, I picked up a worn copy of Victor Frankl's book about man's search for meaning. I vividly remember where I was standing, think I could almost go to the spot on the shelf where I found the book; I think the memory lives clearly because as I scanned through the book, I became haunted with the images that came from its pages and moved by the strength of which it testified. I sat down, read more, took the book home, and never forgot the lesson.

When I worked as a janitor in high school at a local gym, I tried to find meaning by framing my work as helping provide a wholesome environment for children. When I worked as a cook at Hardee's, I was helping keep families together by providing a convenient and affordable place to escape and relax. When I worked alone as a chemist on army contracts, I was helping preserve freedom. When I worked as an ER physician, the value of saving lives was plain but then the challenge was to find meaning in the suffering around me.

These examples (from my work life) show what I strove for; but the practical, every-day accomplishment of finding meaning in the pain, drudgery, and short-term injustice that swirls around me and everyone I know has not always been a task at which I've been successful. Sometimes, I left the gym nasty and tired and just angry at how inconsiderate people can be.
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Schumann Jr. on May 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was looking forward to reading this book when I found that Alex Pattakos had written it. I was not disappointed. I looked forward to reading the book because it was based, at least in part, upon Frankl's classic Man's Search for Meaning. I read and studied Frankl's book 25 years ago at a particularly low spot in my life - my younger brother, Bill, had died suddenly of a heart attack when he was only 40. My father was quite ill with heart disease, and I was about to be diagnosed with cancer. What was the meaning of life? Frankl's answer to that question influenced me in many ways, more than I ever realized until I read Pattakos's book. Since I had not read Frankl in over twenty years, I could now see how his teaching had informed my life.

This is a great book - probably one of the best books on work life yet written. I read the book in one sitting (something I've never done before), marking the book and making numerous notes. I intend to give it to my friends as gifts.

Pattakos writes in his preface, " This book deals with the human quest for meaning and, therefore, was written with you in mind. It is grounded firmly in the philosophy and approach of the world-renowned psy-chiatrist, Viktor Frankl, author of the classic bestseller, Man's Search far Meaning (named one of the ten most influential books in America by the Library of Congress). Frankl, a sur-vivor of the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, is the founder of Logotherapy, a meaning-centered and humanistic approach to psychotherapy. His ideas and experi-ences related to the search for meaning have significantly influenced people around the world.
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72 of 82 people found the following review helpful By GPK on October 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I was impressed by the books of Viktor Frankl and I thought: if this book contains half the wisdom of the Frankl books then it is worth its price. I was disappointed.

I am convinced that the author had the best intentions, but his book simply depends too much on Frankl's work: first the author takes some quotes from Frankl's book, then proceeds to explain this using a contemporary 'business situation' (just a story) and adds some of his own thoughts. If you have read Frankl's book you constantly realise you already know what you are reading. The author's own thoughts make up perhaps 10% of the book. For any book I think the reason to buy it should be that the author makes an original contribution to the subject, and not because the author is capable of explaining other people's ideas who have already done so extensively.

Bottom line: if you are unfamiliar with the work of Frankl, then this book contains a lot of valuable insight. But in that case I would recommend reading Frankl's books first. And if you have already read Frankl's books, then this book has little added value.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Lee Say Keng on October 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Prisoners of Our Thoughts: Viktor Frankl's Principles at Work
by Dr Alex Pattakos

I have been attracted to this wonderful book because I have been inspired by the life story of Dr Viktor Frankl, particularly the unspeakable horrors of his forced imprisonment at the Auschwitz concentration camps during the Second World War. That horrendous period of his life was captured in his book, 'Man's Search for Meaning', which I have reviewed earlier.

Using the inspirations from Dr Viktor Frankl's work, the author has very artfully drawn from his own personal observations, & experiences, the testimonials & quotations, & other anecdotes to create a thoughtful & powerful corporate guide for breaking free from old patterns of thought & action. In this respect, he has done quite a remarkable job.

Although I have earlier picked up several learning points on my own, based on my own review of Dr Frankl's book, & after watching Joel Barker's 'The Power of Vision' video (which has a vital segment on Dr Frankl's life story), I am very impressed by the author's discovery of many further principles which could be applied in our own lives.
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