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Man's Search For Meaning Mass Market Paperback – Standard Edition, December 1, 1997
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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."
Gordon W. Allport from the Preface A compelling introduction to the most significant psychological movement of our day.
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The second part where he talks about logotherapy - gets our brains to work. The idea behind this book is that, when man has lost everything, there is still something they can pursue in their mind, there is still something which he they can look forward to.
Coming from his own experience in the concentration camps, there was something he was looking for, even when he had lost everything in life and there was nothing else to look forward other than to be gassed. He also motivated his comrades to look for something - to search for a meaning in life and to isolate their minds from the external happenings.
As a general read, it is worth reading, it gets us thinking in new lines.
But is it applicable to give new hope to people ? Can it motivate a terminally ill cancer patient to look for something ?
What would have Lance Armstrong have to say about logotherapy ? I think Lance would have acknowledged it - having recovered from cancer to become a champion again. Again it is all about finding new meaning/new hopes to continue and sustain life, even in the brink of hopelessness.