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Book Review: "Man's Search For Meaning" By Viktor Frankl

957 words - 4 pages

Man's Individual MeaningWorld War II and the Holocaust were terrible times in the history of the world. There have been many novels and poems written by survivors of Nazi concentration camps. The majority of those works centered on the repulsive acts that existed in the camps. While Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning does include accounts of the tragedies that occurred, he uses them to explain how he developed his branch of therapy: Logotherapy.Developed the term "logotherapy" from the Greek word Logos, which can be translated to "meaning." In logotherapy, the focus is "on the meaning of human existence as well as on man's search for such meaning (Frankl 121)." The various and numerous encounters that Frankl relates to readers, clarifies and elucidates to them what his motivations were to begin practicing logotherapy.In the first paragraph of Man's Search for Meaning, Frankl states "This tale is not concerned with the great horrors, which have already been described enough ... it will try to answer the question: How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner (Frankl 21)?" That is exactly what he does; Frankl gives an assortment of examples of situations when not only the limits of the prisoners' bodies, but also their minds, are tested.One case given, is a hut crowded with seventy sick men, men who were happy simply because they "did not have to leave camp for work; ... did not have to go on parade (Frankl 68)." This shows that the lives of the prisoners were reduced to such a low that being ill, receiving smaller portions of already inadequate amount of bread and soup, and not being forced to work and "go on parade" was cause for joy. They were satisfied, regardless of everything else they had been subjected to and that they would have to work and parade the next day, to just lay there for one day.For the prisoners, escaping into the past was often the only "refuge from the emptiness, desolation and spiritual poverty" of everyday life at the concentration camp (Frankl 58 - 59). For Viktor Frankl, his wife's image was his asylum and retreat. While being forced to trod steadily to the work site and enduring physical and verbal abuse from the guards and Capos, the picture of his wife and the mental conversations were enough to sustain him though days of work and nights of despair. With this, Frankl fully understood "that love is the ultimate and highest goal which a man can aspire (Frankl 57)." The endless barrage of insults thrown at them while working in such extreme winter weather, Frankl's only thought was on his wife. "I didn't even know if she were still alive. I knew only one thing - which I have learned well by now: Love goes very far beyond the physical person of...

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