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Showing 1-10 of 3,128 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 3,683 reviews
on November 18, 2016
If you're in pain, read this book. If you're scared, read this book. If you are lost, read this book. If you are happy, read this book. If you have time, read this book. If you don't have time, read this book. Read this book, read this book.

"We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
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on September 23, 2016
I read this in college and ordered again to read some 40 years later. Frankl relates the severe conditions in the concentration camp. Those without any purpose seemed to perish. Those that had developed purpose and meaning to the harsh conditions got out of bed every morning to face another unbearable day. this book is a classic. anything less than 5 stars would be a reflection on me.
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on September 8, 2015
I found the material so compelling that I listened on audio, then bought the paperback and transcribed all my notes into that. I also put a note on my perpetual calendar to revisit the highlights once a year. It's just that good.

I was late to the party - most of you probably already read it - but I am at an age where looking for the meaning of my life is maybe more important than ever. Viktor Frankl, as you know, was a psychiatrist who was imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. There, while he suffered, he also learned, and when he was released, he wrote this book. Could we possibly have a more seasoned teacher?

I picked up dozens of life lessons, but for brevity's sake, will mention only a few. For much more, I highly, highly recommend this book. I don't think you can be fully educated about your life's course until you read it thoughtfully. And don't be afraid, as I was, of the heartbreaking circumstances of the camps. Frankl uses them as a basis for making his points, but doesn't sensationalize them. Even a wuss like me can handle it.

Here are some of the best concepts I gleaned from Man's Search for Meaning:

* Don't ask what is the meaning of life. Ask what meaning you are giving to your existence, for this is your responsibility.
* Meaning can be found in suffering. In America, we act like we're ashamed of it. Why not hold your head up and suffer proudly? Add it to your list of accomplishments. Don't seek it, but if you're stuck with it, do it well. Add it to your life's accounting.
* Man can endure anything if he sees a purpose. In one example, a widower couldn't rise above his grief. Frankl helped him see that by being the survivor, the man spared his late wife the pain. Thus he was heroic. The man rallied, glad to have spared his wife the anguish.
* Some see the pages of one's calendar torn off, and grieve over time passing. Frankl says to think of each page of the calendar as a well-lived, fine accounting of oneself. The stack of pages amounts to a kind of wealth, like a full granary. How did I do? How did I live? What is the accounting of my life? This perspective gives our days meaning.

There is so much more. I can only recommend this book to you with all my heart. Thank you, Dr. Frankl. You certainly made a great accounting of your life, and your suffering.
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on February 11, 2015
I followed Viktor Frankl diligently in his journey from the gas ovens of Auschwitz into the hospitals of Vienna after he beats the 1 in 20 odds of his surviving a German concentration camp. He writes that the single most important self-determinant in his survival was his deep inherent conviction under the worst of all possible conditions that life has meaning: even here under constant risk of typhus, wearing the recycled prison garb of those who had been sacrificed to the ovens, starving, freezing, beaten, demonized and dehumanized. If one can still find meaning here and survive because of it, then under better conditions meaning should be possible to find. Frankl believes that there are three sources of meaning: 1) one's work 2) other people whom you love 3) rising with dignity and integrity from a hopelessly tragic diminishment. He found that in the camps the survivors had a positive attitude, which reinforced their search for meaning and gave them hope in a hopeless situation. In Vienna hospitals he debunked theories of Freud and Adler with "logotherapy" which helps others to find the meaning in their lives and heal from thoughts of suicide, psychoses and neurotic behavior. "Logos" is Greek for "meaning" and if you can find it in your own life, then essentially it seems you are as invincible as Frankl, who not only survived Auschwitz but also lived into his 90's, is the living proof of his own thesis. Ultimately, when asked what was the meaning of his life, he wrote that the meaning of his life was to help other people find the meaning in their lives. He is an existentialist but he has a positive outlook on life unlike, for example, Camus or Sartre or the usual champions of this dark philosophy, which sprang out of the widespread, bombed-out wreckage of WWII. He writes that the Nazis proved what man was capable of and Hiroshima proved how high the stakes are. So the search for meaning is important therapy not only as it heals individuals but also because it has a healing and uplifting effect upon humanity as a whole and may well be one approach to saving the human race from its own self-destruction. Frankl had a visa and train ticket out of Vienna before the Nazis rose into power but decided to stay there to help his aging parents who had no such respite. Like Frankl, his pregnant wife and parents were taken to the camps and on the first day after he came home to Vienna he learned that all three had been lost there. He wrote "The Search for Meaning" in only nine days and described how his positive attitude and search for meaning enabled him to survive. He describes how this process of autobiography helped him to begin his own healing, a term which he describes as "autobibliotherapy." By virtue of writing down one's findings in the search for meaning, one serves to find meaning in one's own life and to help others find it in their lives. He prescribes no formulas and believes that every individual must find his or her own meaning in life despite diminishments and suffering and death which accompany every life. With incredible, calm clarity he writes that for everyone "suffering and death are necessary to complete life." He believes that suffering clarifies the meaning of life and, while he doesn't believe we need to bring it upon ourselves, the average life generally provides sufficient circumstances for us to know that suffering is an inevitable aspect of life. So why not learn from it? As Nietzsche wrote: "Suffering is the origin of consciousness." He is not advising us to bring it upon ourselves as a form of sadomasochism but to rise above it with heroic integrity and see it as an opportunity to learn from it. He believes that such life lessons ultimately hold the keys for understanding and overcoming the diminishments of life itself. He writes that man always has a choice of action in reacting to the circumstances no matter how dire they may be. So it seems that readers, when they read great books, are searching for meaning and this search has healing powers for them. Further, it seems that when writers search for meaning in creating their work, they have an opportunity to experience the same healing benefits of autobibliotherapy. So keep reading and writing the good stuff for all the good it can do to you and by all means, read this brief, brilliant book by an Auschwitz survivor as it has life altering implications for you: this book will change your outlook on life and may well, thereby, save it through mastery of the art of living.
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on January 3, 2016
The first half of this book is transformative, and it was worth reading for just that. The content is difficult to read, but very meaningful, as the title suggests. It's certainly not for the faint of heart. It was engrossing to read about life in the concentration camps from the prisoners' point of view because all I've ever seen are the horrifying videos of the starved bodies and plowing masses of humanity into vast communal graves. Those images totally strip the prisoners of their individuality, and this book restores that to them. The second half of the book is about logotherapy, which, in a nutshell, is a form of therapy that aims at identifying the specific meaning of life for the patient. I found this half of the book to be pretty dry. Still, it was a deeply life-altering book, which caused me to truly appreciate my own life, as full of trials and tragedy as it has been. It helped me to see that life is not a "pursuit of happiness", which is so difficult to attain, but an opportunity to live meaningfully and purposefully.
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on May 31, 2016
my husband and I are getting a lot out of this. can apply to anyone's life. thinking of people we know struggling with deep depressions... everyone suffers. how we respond to it is the crux of it all. recent npr spot concurred that depressed people (suicidals, specifically) need a "mission". frankl uses the word "purpose". all good stuff.
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on November 13, 2016
This is possibly one the best books I have ever read and is clearly one that can change a persons life, just by reading it.

It is one of the hand full of books that helped to make up my personal philosophy about life and the powerful truths helped me to survive a recent bout with cancer and gave me the blueprint for a meaningful life after this life treating and very scary event. Beautifully written and very readable but based on sound academic and scientific principles. This is not the usually motivational fluff that is often written to help have a meaningful life by motivational writers. Usually I avoid these books as they often have very little substance. This is written by one of the founding group that gave us psychoanalysis and while his other books are very achademic and only for the very serious reader this one is written for the general reader and is an easy and pleasurable read.
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on March 28, 2017
While I am somewhat surprised that it took me so long to discover this classic, I will be forever grateful to David Brooks for bringing it to my attention in his conversation last week with Rabbi Lord Sacks of London at the 92nd Street Y. I am 66. At my age, how many things profoundly affect how you think about life?
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on April 18, 2016
Interesting reading and what it means for those of us that have never been in similar or alike situations just as Viktor had….Facing his captors and living amongst many different points of view, about their own and others life meanings.

Bottom line for me was to find out that even though we may face uncertainty and sometimes death itself....there are many different and horrible ways to suffer, just before or in our way to it. One of the worse ones is our own ideas...and how those ideas form and causes our next move or lack thereof.

What this book taught me was to be careful and try defining exactly what it is I want and why…it really helped me define a clear path towards my own understanding of the meaning of life. In this case my own life.

Strongly recommend this book to everyone—I am certain they will all find it as helpful as I did, or probably more.
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on July 8, 2017
In this small book, there is more wisdom distilled than in the thickest of philosophy books. Frankl a renowned psychiatrist and intellectual retells the stories of his time in forced labor at Auschwitz. He does it through a unique perspective, the perspective of a psychiatrist. He is interested in the "how." How despite such treacherous conditions, were these prisoners able to accept their fate and will to continue on living. It is fascinating account and it builds nicely into Frankl's psychological theory of Logotherapy. Logotherapy is a school of thought based on existential philosophy that asserts that the ultimate goal of every human being is "the will to mean," to find meaning in one's life despite whatever the present circumstances.

Along the way there are some great quotes that alone are worth the price of the book:

"Of the prisoners only a few kept their full inner liberty and obtained those values which their suffering afforded, but even one such example is sufficient proof that man's inner strength may raise him above his outward fate. Such men are not only in concentration camps. Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering."

"What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think for ourselves as those who were being questioned by life - daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual."

"Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast."

"In other words, what matters is to make the best of any given situation. "The best," however, is an optimism in the face of tragedy and in view of the human potential which at its best always allows for: (1) turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment; (2) deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better; (3) deriving from life's transitoriness an incentive to take responsible action."

"Live as if you were living the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now."

"A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other but man is ultimately self determining. When he becomes - within the limits of endowment and environment - he has made out of himself."

Frankl was once asked to write in one sentence the meaning of his own life. He wrote: "To help others find the meaning of their life." He is the marking of a great human being, a true inspiration.
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