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Man's Search for Meaning, Gift Edition Hardcover – October 28, 2014
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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)
About the Author
Born in Vienna in 1905, Viktor E. Frankl earned an MD and a PhD from the University of Vienna. He published more than thirty books on theoretical and clinical psychology and served as a visiting professor and lecturer at Harvard, Stanford, and elsewhere. Frankl died in 1997.
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"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."
Frankl-- who survived when his pregnant wife, parents and other relatives did not-- went on to show that not all prisoners were moral and all guards immoral. Within extremely narrow parameters, both had the freedom to embrace life and to aid others. He was also insightful about what signaled impending death. I guess I should not be surprised that after the war, Frankl opposed the theory of collective guilt; he was loathe to condemn whole societies, which is what makes him out of step with many Holocaust scholars and (in my reading) with other prominent moral teachers of his era.
The last part of the book sets out his theories of logotherapy in which he held that the purpose of psychotherapy is to help patients make meaning of their lives rather than find happiness or resolve various complexes. It's interesting that logotherapy is almost unknown today, although some of his ideas seem to bubble up in existential therapies. As it turns out, Man's Search is condensed from longer writings he produced after liberation. The book in English is so lucid that I forgot that he lived all this experience "in German." Unlike many psychological writings, this one does not suffer from the restriction of categories that don't quite translate. I suspect that's one reason is still resonates with readers as it did with me.