68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Man's Search for Meaning (Paperback)
I originally bought this book knowing nothing about Frankl, his experiences, or psychological theories. I simply read the description and a few of the overwhelmingly positive reviews here on Amazon and decided that it sounded interesting. What a life-changing book. Merely reading it at any given time has a marked positive influence on my attitude towards life.
What's most interesting about it, as Frankl says himself, is that what he's propounding are not abstract ideas developed by some academic at a university or in some research laboratory. He uses his direct experience in one of the most adverse circumstances possible--a Nazi concentration camp--to relate the ideas of logotherapy (his own school of psychotherapy) to the reader.
In a nutshell, the three most important tenets of logotherapy are as follows: (1) Life has meaning under all circumstances--even the most miserable ones; (2) Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life; and (3) We have the freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering. These principles are put directly to the test, and Frankl demonstrates their validity in a way that no social scientist has conceived of (or been able to) ever before.
From the afterword:
"Frankl was once asked to express in one sentence the meaning of his own life. He wrote the response on paper and asked his students to guess what he had written. After some moments of quiet reflection, a student surprised Frankl by saying, 'The meaning of your life is to help others find the meaning of theirs.'
'That was it, exactly,' Frankl said. 'Those are the very words I had written.'"