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Man's Search for Meaning

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Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Based on his own experience and the stories of his patients, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. At the heart of his theory, known as logotherapy, is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful. Man's Search for Meaning has become one of the most influential books in America; it continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living.

165 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1959

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About the author

Viktor E. Frankl

187 books6,352 followers
Viktor Emil Frankl M.D., Ph.D., was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. Frankl was the founder of logotherapy, which is a form of Existential Analysis, the "Third Viennese School" of psychotherapy.

His book Man's Search for Meaning (first published under a different title in 1959: From Death-Camp to Existentialism. Originally published in 1946 as Ein Psycholog erlebt das Konzentrationslager) chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living. He was one of the key figures in existential therapy.

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 36,391 reviews
Profile Image for Laurel.
404 reviews193 followers
September 27, 2020
I read this book for the first time during my senior year in high school. The year prior, I had gone to Germany for spring break with some fellow classmates. During the trip, we spent a day visiting a former WWII concentration camp in Dachau. As one might expect, this visit had a profound effect on me. I had of course read and knew about the atrocities that occurred under the Nazi regime, but to actually see a camp in person is a deeply haunting and disturbing experience. Perhaps for this reason, Frankl's book affected me even more deeply than it otherwise might have.

The book is divided into two parts. The first section recounts in vivid detail Frankl's horrifying experiences as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Frankl, a former psychiatrist, also describes his observations of other prisoners and what he felt to be the main way in which people tried to cope with the insurmountable obstacles they faced. He found that those who could find meaning or purpose in their suffering were the ones who also seemed better able to find the strength to go on. As I recall, Frankl personally found his purpose in the hope of someday being able to see his wife again - a hope that was strong enough to get him through the daily horrors he faced.

The second half of this book is devoted to the therapy he developed based on the search for meaning, which he calls logotherapy. The basic premise is that those who can find meaning in their suffering are better able to cope with what would otherwise be a struggle too hard to bear. As one who majored in psychology, I found this section as fascinating as the first.

I have read this book at least three times now, and it is one of the few books I can say truly changed my life. I am ever grateful that I have the wisdom of this book to fall back upon when needed.

Several years ago, at a very young age (in my 20s), I became ill with a disease that left me bedridden and barely able to speak above a whisper. Now 36, I am still bedridden and fighting the same battle. It is Frankl's reminder to find meaning and purpose in suffering (which I found in the love of my fiancé and my hope of recovery) that has helped me to get through each difficult day. As Frankl tells us, "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."

I highly recommend this book!!
Profile Image for Frank.
329 reviews77 followers
September 21, 2012
After I read this book, which I finished many, many years ago, I had become self-critical of any future endeavours which would take up a lot of my time. I would ask myself "is this or will this be meaningful to me?", and if the answer was "no", I wouldn't do it. It was this book that influenced me to consciously live as meaningful a life as possible, to place a great value on the journey and not just the destination, while knowing that "meaningful" doesn't always mean "enjoyable". "Meaningful" should be equated with "fulfilling".

So I studied Physics instead of Engineering. I went to York U instead of U of T. I went to Europe instead of immediately entering the workforce after graduation.

I want to recommend this book to all of my grade 12 students.
Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
May 6, 2015
How is it possible to write dispassionately of life in a concentration camp in such a way as to engender great feeling in the reader? This is how Frankl dealt with his experience of those terrible years. The dispassionate writing makes the horrors of the camp extremely distressing, more so than writing that is more emotionally involved. It is almost reportage. The first half of the book is equal in its telling to The Diary of a Young Girl in furthering our understanding of those dreadful times.

There are occasional glimmers of humanity from the Germans. These are so small that rather than illuminate any basic goodness, they cast further into the shadows the terror of living in a place and time where death might be a beating or a shot to the head at any moment. There are also stories of the depths that some of the Jewish victims would sink to in what they would do to stay alive themselves. It made me think that rather than condemn these people for becoming tools of the Nazis, what would I do faced with death or the chance to stay alive a little longer and maybe save family or friends.

7 stars, golden stars for this half of the book.

The second half is about Frankl's psychotherapeutic methods and lost me in boredom. I did read this in its entirety but it wouldn't have spoiled the book, or my appreciation of the genius retelling and brilliant writing of the first half, if I hadn't.
Profile Image for chai ♡.
322 reviews156k followers
March 19, 2023
There’s a joy at once fierce and quiet in feeling profoundly rearranged by your encounter with a book. In understanding, with certainty, in the deep core of your heart, that the you who first entered this book exists at a distance of several hundred pages: you’re not the same person, you’ve changed—been changed—in ways you cannot explain but which you will always carry with you. I might have finished this book but I feel like it’s only just begun me.

Man’s Search for Meaning weaves together compelling personal narrative and profound scientific inquiry into a short volume that is luminous, insightful, and deeply empowering. Frankl provides us with an extraordinary investigation into his doctrine of Logotherapy, a branch of therapy that believes that “the primary motivational force” of a human being is the striving to find a meaning in his life.

From the outset, Frankl makes it clear that he does not bring to this inquiry solely the tools of a scientist, but even more importantly, the weight of first-hand lived experience. The first part of this book recounts, intimately and horribly, Frankl’s experiences as a Jewish detainee in several Nazi concentration camps, illuminating in the process the key concepts of Frankl’s theory of Logotherapy.

It is impossible to hide one’s wince reading this section. Frankl’s account is unsparing, giving an unflinching testimonial of humanity’s violence against itself, of “the hard fight for existence which raged among the prisoners,” of what it means to survive through unimaginable horror in places where one’s definition of suffering is deranged, every second, into entirely new meanings. (In a particularly haunting instance, Frankl remembers how he abruptly stopped himself from shaking a fellow inmate out of a fearful nightmare he was having because “no dream, no matter how horrible, could be as bad as the reality of the camp which surrounded us, and to which I was about to recall him.”) To cushion himself against the shock and constant oppression of terror, Frankl remembers his wife’s face and the stolen manuscript containing his life’s work and feels empowered to survive long enough to fulfill his twin needs of seeing his wife and re-writing his manuscript. Frankl’s beloved and unwritten manuscript become, in other words, the marginal references for the survival of his self.

Frankl survives to speak the full agenda and unequivocal goal of his therapeutic doctrine— Logotherapy—which is explained and explored in the second part of this book. Frankl’s theory of Logotherapy, when reduced to its simplest form, is clear, precise, and easy to both grasp and appreciate: that “life holds meaning under any condition,” therefore the purpose of Logotherapy is for one to be “confronted with, reoriented towards the meaning of his life.” From this deceptive simplicity, however, arises a practice of meaning-making that is complex, challenging, unresolved, and ongoing.

Throughout the book, Frankl insists upon the plural, specific, and shifting nature of the meaning of one’s life—as opposed to a unified, abstract, and generalized understanding of meaning-making. In other words, it is not so much a man’s search for a meaning, but for a multitude of meanings: a constantly changing constellation of potentialities, as opposed to a fixed quantity of traits. In this book, Frankl invites us to work out the vocabularies of our unwieldy selves, to make our own meaning(s) and walk through them. For him, this exercise is fraught with tension—the tension “between what one has already achieved and what one should become”—because tension is not only inevitable in the process of meaning-making—it is also “normal and healthy.” Frankl refuses to see this contradiction as conflicting: in his rendering, it is precisely this tension that prevents us from being embedded in misery and a freezing boredom. It is an amulet that protects us against the void that threatens to devour our selves, what Frankl calls the “existential vacuum.”

Frankl identifies this void as a primary aspect of the atrophy of the imagination that precludes us from finding meaning in life and stresses how important it is to resist this void and to struggle openly and fiercely against it. To this end, Frankl delineates three broad avenues through which one might find meaning(s) “at any given moment”. The first is through personal achievement or a good deed. The second is through the embrace of beauty, culture, and nature and/or personal encounters with one another, in which we grapple for each other’s depths and love each other. The last one is through personal suffering.

Let me immediately admit that I was very resistant, for several pages, to this last point: to the idea that suffering enobles us, that our life and the meaning of it is enlivened by it somehow. But Frankl, as it turns out, has anticipated this objection and hastens to explain that he isn’t making a case for suffering as something indispensable for or dissociable from the practice of meaning-making—that suffering is, to put it differently, a requisite for leading a meaningful life—but that meaning can come, not from suffering, but despite the abundance of it. It is difficult not to feel persuaded, and even liberated by this: the idea that not only can we survive through our suffering, but that we can live thoroughly within it. That even in the worst types of circumstances, through a rigorous and indefatigable striving for meaning, one can be transformed.

Here, Frankl brings us directly and inevitably against the question of how. How does one give meaning to one’s suffering when one’s subject, in their everyday life, to larger systemic forces that feel impossible to overcome? Frankl’s theory of Logotherapy does not deny that there are circumstances beyond our control, but it insists that there is one thing that we are able to control, which is “the way(s) in which we respond to (them).” What is available in the search for meaning, in other words, is the deepest kind of freedom. “It is not freedom from conditions,” to borrow Frankl’s words, “but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions.” The freedom one is born with, which is as inextricable from one’s self as a strand of DNA. The freedom to imagine an elsewhere and an otherwise, or as Frankl puts it, to imagine a present that is both past and future: “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!” The principle of responsibleness is therefore integral to Frankl’s vision of freedom: the pursuit of meaning has the immense power to heal the fissures that suffering makes on the imagination—but only if we can first extend our imagination to articulate what we are responsible for.

In its most radical moments, Man’ Search for Meaning speaks deeply to the human desire to mediate rupture and powerlessness and create ourselves through annihilation. It’s a testament to how humans have always evolved creative responses to rupture, crisis, and fissure, and how we manage to endure at the center of even the most unendurable atrocities. This is not a book one comes to for answers—Logotherapy is, in Frankl’s own words, “neither preaching nor teaching”—but rather, a book that one can approach as a way of being and thinking, as a way of conceiving of one’s self and the world, as something to hold consciously at the center of one’s practice. Ultimately, what Man’s Search for Meaning does best is posit a set of questions that become a ferocious call to action: to always strive for meaning—and to hunt for it when it’s necessary—even in a world that seems to perpetually corrode our freedom.
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
656 reviews7,104 followers
March 11, 2012
For most of the book, I felt as dumbfounded as I would have been if I were browsing through a psychiatric journal. Filled with references and technical terms and statistics, it was mostly a book-long affirmation of the then innovative technique called 'logo-therapy'. I do not understand how this book is still relevant and found in most popular book stores. It might have been that the book was popular in the sixties and seventies as it offered a powerful and logical argument against the reductionist approach that leads inevitably to existential nihilism, but is that still relevant today? It also attempts to free psychiatry from the belief that 'eros' was the cause of all neurosis and turns the flashlight on repressed 'logos' - which forms the premise of the book and the title.

But, while the basic premises are powerful and moving, the breadth and scale of repetition of the same ideas and the technical jargon and the constant Freud-bashing ensured that I did not enjoy the book as much as I had hoped. Furthermore, the whole chapter dedicated to the theory that ultimately our basic necessity of 'search for logos' can also be explained as a 'repressed religious drive' and his exhortation to religious people to not look down on irreligious ones (read atheists and agnostics) just because they have achieved a stage that the atheists/agnostics are still aspiring (unconsciously of course) towards rang patently false and too much in line with his argument of psychiatry being a sister to theology.

I wish Frankl had stuck to his original title of 'The Unconscious God' - it would have been more representative of the book as his 'logos' argument directly derives from his postulation of a transcendent unconscious super-ego that trumps Freud's 'Super Ego' and a spiritual cum instinctual subconscious that trumps Freud's 'id'.

Unless you are looking for a historical perspective on the technical aspects of psychiatry and about the origins of 'logo-therapy', I would not recommend this book, especially for general reading. If you pick up this book, like I did, in the hope that it is about Frankl's personal quest for meaning amidst the horrors of Auschwitz with a strong scientific perspective, you will be disappointed to find that you have picked up a medical journal that is pedantic and repetitive, with hardly any reference to Frankl's personal journey or about how he evolved his theory and practices (that did transform many lives) based on his experiences.
Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 23 books25.9k followers
June 29, 2022
في رصيد قراءاتي السنوي تبزغ ثلاثة إلى أربعة كتب لتشكّل نقط ارتكاز؛ مكان أعود إليه ذهنيًا من أجل التشافي. هذا واحد من تلك الكتب التي تعيدك إلى العالم بعد تسليحك.

لو لم يكن فيكتور فرانكل قد جرب الاعتقال في أربع معسكرات للنازية من بينها أوشفتز، لبدا كل ما كتبه من قبيل المثالية الكاذبة. لكنها ليست كذلك؛ فالمؤلف ابن التجربة، والقدرة على إيجاد معنى (حتى في قلب المعاناة) هو ما يحصّننا ضد السقوط في الفراغ الوجودي - وباء العصر وقبل الكورونا حتى.

يقلب د. فرانكل الطاولة على منطق الضحية؛ فسؤال "ما معنى الحياة" لا يوجهه المرء لحياته، بل هو سؤال توجهه حياته إليه. إنه يؤكد بأن الإنسان ليس صنيعة ظروفه بالكامل (وإن كان يتأثر بها بنسبة كبيرة)، لكن الظروف نفسها تفرز ردود أفعال متفاوتة، وفي معسكر الاعتقال نفسه اختار البعض أن ينضموا للكابو ويتحولوا إلى جلادين، فيم اختار آخرون أن يُهدوا بعضهم كسرة خبز لم يكن لديهم غيرها.

إن قدرة المرء على خلق معنى لحياته تعني أن يمرن نفسه باستمرار على تجاوز ذاته؛ أن ينظر إلى حياته من خلال جودة العلاقات التي تحيطها، ومن خلال قدرته على خلق الجمال ومنح المعرفة. يقول: "كان علينا أن نعلم أنفسنا أنه لا يهم حقًا ما كنا نتوقعه من الحياة، بل ما تتوقعه الحياة منا".

يسقط فرانكل الضوء على العديد من أمراض عصرنا؛ إلى جانب الفراغ الوجودي طبعًا، لدينا المرض الآخر المتمثل في ربط قيمة الإنسان بفائدته. يجادل فرانكل بأن قيمة الإنسان مرتبطة بكرامته، وليس على مقدار ما يقدمه من فائدة.. وإلا أين الفرق بين هذه الفكرة وبين المنطق النازي؟

المغالطة الأخرى هي البحث عن السعادة؛ لا يبحث المرء عن السعادة بل عن أسبابها، فالسعادة نتيجة جانبية وليست هدفًا. إنها مثل الضحك؛ لا يمكنك افتعاله. إن السعادة هي ثمرة جانبية لحياة مليئة بالمعاني.

وختامًا، وكما صاغها فرانكل؛ "منذ أوشفيتز نعرف ما يستطيع الإنسان أن يفعله، ومنذ هيروشيما نعرف ما هو على المَحك". لدينا نسختنا الخاصة من أوشفيتز واسمها النكبة (يتحدث فرانكل أيضا عن تحول الضحية إلى جلاد)، ولدينا نسخة مصغرة من هيروشيما في انفجار بيروت، وكم هو وعرٌ وطويل.. هذا الطريق الذي علينا أن نأخذه من أجل المعنى.

شكرًا للناشر على الكتاب المهم، وشكرًا عبدالمقصود عبدالكريم على الترجمة الأنيقة.
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
575 reviews762 followers
March 2, 2022
The original part one was the strongest I think because the rest started to go into the typical psychobabble inherent to books trying to contribute to the academic side of psychology or psychiatry but the first part really grounded the idea of giving meaning to one existence into personal experience and I found it very poignant about the mental state of people in very stressful and hopeless situations. It's a very empowering and important idea that no matter the situation a person can control their behavior and influence their own feelings of the situation. This idea of a person having so much control over their own selves and survival is one I whole heartedly agree with. Anyone having trouble figuring out life or what the point is could benefit from reading this I think.

Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,271 reviews2,440 followers
June 26, 2022

If someone asks me to recommend the best three books related to the Second World War and the horrors of the holocaust, this book will be one among them. Viktor Emil Frankl was an Austrian Neurologist and Psychiatrist. He was also a Holocaust survivor. This book describes his experiences in concentration camps in the first section and the logotherapy he developed for finding meaning in all forms of existence during the suffering in the second section.

My favorite three lines from this book.
“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.”

"But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer."

“I do not forget any good deed done to me & I do not carry a grudge for a bad one.”

The way the author recalls all the events is simply brilliant. The hardships he faced in the concentration camp will indubitably shock you. I always wondered how he was able to survive three years in four concentration camps when I can't even think about living there for a single day.

This is one of the most challenging books I read in my life so far. But I reread this book once in a while to remind me of the importance of hope and how it can help a human being to overcome one of the most harrowing experiences that humankind has ever witnessed on this planet. This is one of those books that everyone in this world should read at least once in their lifetime.
Profile Image for Mohammed  Ali.
475 reviews1,153 followers
September 4, 2021
بسم الله الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

- اعترافات لا بدّ منها :

1- المراجعة طويلة نوعا ما .. و لا أدري لماذا صراحة ؟ و ما معنى أن تكون المراجعة طويلة ؟
2- مستواي في علم النفس ضعيف جدا، لذلك تهت بين المصطلحات والمفاهيم النفسية وحاولت قدر الإمكان استيعابها وفهمها .
3- الشكر موصول للأخت هناء (تحديث: رحمها الله وغفر لها، ورزقها الفردوس الأعلى) فمراجعتها كانت السبب في اختيار هذا الكتاب .
4- لا أدري !!

عن الكاتب :

1- ولد الدكتور فكتور فرانكل في 26-03-1905 في فيينا، و توفي في 02-09-1997 .
2- طبيب أعصاب و طبيب نفسي .
3- من الذين عايشوا الحياة في المعتقلات النازية و عاشوا فيها . و أحد الناجبين من المحرقة النازية .
4- مؤسس و رائد العلاج بالمعنى، أو ما سمي بالمدرسة الفيينية الثالثة ( بعد مدرسة فرويد و مدرسة آدلر ) في التحليل النفسي .

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عن الكتاب :

الكتاب بعنوان " الإنسان يبحث عن المعنى " مقدمة في العلاج بالمعنى و التسامي بالنفس وقسّمه الكاتب إلى ثلاث أجزاء :
1- الجزء الأول : خبرات في معسكر الإعتقال
2- الجزء الثاني : المبادئ الأساسية للعلاج بالمعنى
3- الجزء الثالث : التسامي بالذات

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عني أنا :

1- الجزء الأول من الكتاب كان لذيذا جدا، مؤلما جدا و أدبي نفسي جدا .. لذلك كانت قراءته سهلة و مفهومة .
2- الجزء الثاني من الكتاب جاء مهضوما نوعا ما رغم أنّ الكاتب حاول التبسيط مع ذكر الأمثلة التي تشرح نظريته .
3- الجزء الثالث جاء معقدا ( بالنسبة لي ) و لكن هذا لم يمنعني من الإستمتاع به .

عن المراجعة :


اقتباس 1 : من مسرحية كاليغولا

" .. كلا، ما هذه سوى من مهامه العابرة. أمّا عظمته فتخدم جزعا أكبر و هلاكا أشد.إنّه يهددنا في أعز ما نملك. أجل، لم يكن لدينا هو الأول، من تحلى بسلطة مطلقة، إلاّ أنّه أول من استخدمها بلا حدود، إلى درجة الإنكار التّام للإنسان و العالم. و هذا الذي يرعبني فيه، و هذا ما سأناضل ضدّه. الموت ليس مخيفا. و رجولتي تكفي لذلك، عندما تقترب الضرورة، لكنّك لا تحتمل أن تشاهد كيف تفقد الحياة معناها و يفقد الوجود أساسه. لا يجوز العيش دون هدف حياتي . "


كيف كانت الحياة اليومية في معسكر الإعتقال تنعكس في عقل السجين ؟

- بعد قراءتي ل " يوم في حياة إيفان دنيسوفيتش " تكوّنت لدي فكرة لا بأس بها عن جحيم المعتقلات و خاصة أنّ الأمر واحد فالنازية و الشيوعية ابتكروا أشدّ الطرق لتعذيب الإنسان و تحويله إلى حيوان، حيث تتحول حياة المسجون إلى صراع و نضال قاسي من أجل ذات الإنسان و من أجل الخبز .

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كيف تصبح رقما ؟

- الرقم هو المهم .. الرقم هو رقم .. الإنسان يتحوّل إلى رقم، و عند التّحول عليك أن تنسى كل شيء، أن تترك كل شيء، أن تصبح لا شيء، و أن تصارع من أجل شيء واحد و هو البقاء حيا . عندما يتم طبع الرقم عليك فعليك أن تعرف أنك ستعامل على أساس هذا الرقم .. أي المعاملة الإنسانية ستزول من الآن فصاعدا .

ما هي أطوار ردود الفعل النفسية بالنسبة للسجين ؟

- يمكن تلخيصها في ثلاثة أطوار و هي : ردود الفترة التي تعقب إدخاله المعسكر مباشرة، و ردود في الفترة التي يكون فيها قد اندمج تماما ثم ردود أفعال السجين بعد الإفراج عنه .


اقتباس 02 : بدر شاكر السياب

" إذا فقد الإنسان معنى أن يكون ........ فكيف يمكن أن يكون؟؟"


ما هو أبرز رد فعل يظهر على السجين في الفترة التي تعقب إدخاله ؟

- الصدمة . الإنتقال من حال إلى حال، هل تعرف حركة الأصبع ؟

لا !! هل يمكن أن تشرحها لي من فضلك ؟

- عند دخول المعتقل .. تقف في طابور أمام أحد الضباط، و هو إنسان طبعا ثم نتقدم إليه واحدا بعد الآخر، و هو لا يفعل شيئا سوى الإشارة بإصبعه إلى الشخص المتقدّم إليه، يمين أو شمال، شمال أو يمين .. فقط حركة أصبع ضجرة .. يمين أو شمال .

ما مغزى هذه الحركة ؟

- الحمام .. الوجود أو عدم الوجود .

كيف ؟؟

- عملية انتقاء .. المرسلون إلى اليسار هم أشخاص رأى الضابط أنّهم لا يصلحون للعمل، لذلك يرسلهم إلى الحمام ليتم تحويله إلى دخان، و الدخان نتيجة للحرق طبعا، و الحمام ما هو إلا اسم أطلق كناية و نكاية على المحرقات .


اقتباس 03 : من الكتاب بتصرف .
" - أين أرسل صديقي ؟؟
- هل أرسل إلى الجانب الأيسر ؟؟
- نعم .
- إذن تستطيع أن تراه هناك
- هناك...أين ؟
- ( مشيرا إلى مدخنة على بعد مسافة قريبة ) ذلك هو مكان صديقك، فهو يسبح صاعدا إلى السماء "


و بعد الصدمة ؟؟

- بعد الصدمة تظهر على السجين أثار متفاوتة، طبعا أثار نفسية منها حب الإستطلاع و الدهشة، ظهور نمط غريب من المرح
يتجلى في إحساس مروع بالفكاهة و المرح و السخرية العبثية

هل يمكن أن تعطينا مثالا عن الشعور بالدهشة ؟

- مثلا السؤال الذّي طرحه معظم السجناء بنبرة تنم عن دهشة غريبة " لماذا لم نصب بالبرد في كل هذه الظروف ؟ !! " و الظروف هنا هي البقاء عاريي الأجساد و سط البرد الشديد ثم الإستحمام بالماء البارد و النّوم على الألواح الخشبية .


اقتباس 04 :من أقوال لنسج

" توجد أشياء تؤدي بك إلى أن تفقد عقلك، و إلا فإنّه لا يوجد لديك ما تفقده "


كيف ينتقل الإنسان من الطور الأول لردود الفعل العقلية إلى الطور الثاني ؟

- الطور الثاني هو البلادة التّي تصل به إلى نوع من الموت الإنفعالي و سبب ذلك أن السجين يعيش ألوانا من االإنفعالات المؤلمة، الشوق العارم، الإشمئزاز و التقزز من حياة المعتقل و المحيط حوله، الشعور بالوهن و نوع من الكآبة و هذه العوامل تجتمع و تولد البلادة .

ماذا تقصد بالبلادة ؟

- إن المناظر التي كانت تثير السجين و تحرك عواطفه و مشاعره و تجر أحاسيسه أصبحت لا تثير فيه شيئا، مثلا منظر السجناء الجدد، منظر المحرقة، منظر طفل يعذب، منظر الجثث، منظر المرضى، منظر الآخر الرث البالي، منظر المعتقل، منظر الموت، منظر الحياة، منظر البتر، منظر الدماء، منظر النازي المتغطرس، كل شيء أصبح سواء عنده .البلادة كميكانيزم دفاعي عن الذات.

لدي سؤال غريب نوعا ما .. هل يحلم السجناء ؟ و ماهي أحلامهم ؟

- نعم يحلمون، و مواضيع أحلامهم هي الكعك، السجائر، الحمامات الساخنة، حذاء جديد، سلك يستطيع أن يربط به حذاءه، حساء يكون فيه بضعة حبات من البازلاء، و غيرها من الأحلام الناتجة عن الرغبة في إشباع الرغبات البسيطة، و الأمر الأكثر إثارة إلى أن السجناء أحبوا الكوابيس التي تأتيهم ليلا أثناء نومهم .. لأنها ببساطة أحسن من واقع السجن المرير .

الحب و السجين ؟؟

- خلاص الإنسان هو من خلال الحب و في الحب، إن الإنسان الذي لم يتبق له شيء في هذه الدنيا، لا يزال يعرف السعادة، من خلال التفكير في المحبوب و التأمل فيه. الحب يذهب إلى ما هو أبعد من غايته من الشخص البدني للمحبوب، هذا الحب يجد معناه الأعمق في الوجود الروحي لهذا الشخص المحبوب، أي في ذاته الداخلية. الحب هو هروب مؤقت من لحظات الجحيم .
كم يمكن أن تكون الدنيا جميلة .


اقتباس 05 : دوستويفسكي

" يوجد شيء واحد فقط يروعني : ألا أكون جديرا بآلامي "


ماذا عن الطور الأخير .. إنسان ما بعد السجن ؟

- فقدان القدرة على الإحساس بالسرور، الناتجة عن الدهشة .. لا أوامر ! لا ركل ! لا صفعات ! الحرية كمصطلح فقد المعنى جراء اجتراره لسنوات طوال، الحلم الذي لم نستطع ادراك معناه لحظة الخروج . عندما يتحول الحلم إلى حقيقة .

ما هي أبرز الملاحظات النفسية التي ميزت الخارجين من المعتقل ؟

- الإختلال الشخصي النفسي، الناتج عن تأثيرات القسوة التي أحاطت بهم في حياة المعتقل، أرادوا تطبيق حريتهم عبر القمع بلا قيود و بلا هوادة . بالإضافة إلى طابعين أساسين و هما القسوة و التحرر من الوهم .

كيف يستطيع الإنسان معاملة إنسان آخر بهذه الوحشة التي لا تمت لبني آدم بأي صلة ؟

- البلادة و السادية و النزوع إلى الشر و التأله كلها عوامل زرعت الوحشية في نفوس هؤلاء السجانين .


عن المعنى ؟

- دعوت الله في سجني الضيق فأجابني في رحابة الكون.

hebergeur d image


اقتباس 06 : محمود درويش

" على هذه الأرض ما يستحق الحياة "


.. أما الخبرة التي تتوج كل هذه الخبرات، بالنسبة إلى الشخص العائد إلى منزله، فهي ذلك الشعور العجيببأنه، بعد كل ما لقيه من معاناة، لا يوجد ثمة شيء يستوجب الخوف بعد الآن ، عدا الخوف من الله سبحانه و تعالى .






- الإنسان مخلوق مسؤول و ينبغي أن يحقق المعنى الكامن لحياته .


اقتباس 07: مقطع من سلسلة ( فارغو ) الأمريكية

- Peggy.
- have you actualized fully ?
- What ?!
-Have you actualized fully ?
- I don't know ! . I mean, I'm trying.
- Do you feel cold sometimes, even when it's hot ?
- Sometimes.
- Do you understand the difference between thinking and being ?
- What do you mean ?
- Do you understand the difference between thinking and being ?
- I...
- To be is simply to exist . Try it .. try simply bieng .
- I'm soory ! .. but how is sitting here gonna help me be the best person I can be ?!
- Ah ! .. you want an explanation .
- Well, Kinda .
- The humain mind, aroused by an insistence for meaning, seeks and finds nothing but contradiction and nonsense. Think or be .

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ما العلاج بالمعنى؟

"ويل لمن لا يرى في الحياة معنى"

يرتكز العلاج بالمعنى على مساعدة المريض على إيجاد معنى لوجوده في الحياة والاضطلاع بمسؤوليته البشرية كي يجد حلولا لمشكلاته. توصل فرانكل إلى هذا العلاج حين وجد أن المساجين الذين يعانون من (عصاب اللامعنى) وهو الإحساس بعبثية الوجود كانوا يقدمون على الانتحار دون تردد بينما الذين آمنوا بأن للحياة غاية كانوا الأقدر على مواجهة الصعاب فالعلاج بالمعنى - على حد وصفه - يمنح للإنسان سببا للأمل ولمواصلة الحياة.

استخدم فرانكل هذا العلاج في السجن ونجح من خلاله في إنقاذ حياة الكثير من المعتقلين من الانتحار ويقف المعتقد الديني أول الحوافز المساعدة على تجنب الآلام وأفضل وسادة للمتعبين. احتوى الكتاب على مشاهد وأحداث كثيرة تنبض بالآلام والعذابات البشرية ويعد من جهة ثانية رافد مهما قدّم لعلم النفس تصورات ورؤى جديدة عن سيكولوجية السجين وعلاقة الإنسان بالألم والوجود، وإذا ما أردنا وصف الكتاب في جملة سنقول:

"إنه رسالة نداء وحب لمصافحة الألم الذي لم يعد أمرا سيئا كما نظن!!".


اقتباس 08 : من أقوال نيتشه

"من يمتلك سببا ليعيش من أجله فإنه يستطيع غالبا أن يتحمل بأية طريقة وبأي حال"


heberger une image

ما معنى التسامي بالذات ؟؟

1- ان تحقيق الذات ليس هو الغاية القصوى عند الإنسان ولا حتى مقصده الأولى، ذلك أنّ تحقيق الذات إذا صار غاية في حد ذاته فإنه يتعارض مع خاصية تجاوز الذات أو التسامي بالذات.
2- كذلك فإن تحقيق الذات ماهو إلا نتيجة أو أثر لتحقيق المعنى، ذلك أن الإنسان لا يحقق ذاته إلا بمقدار تحقيقه لمعنى في هذا العالم.
3- إنّ التسامي بالذات هو جوهر الوجود.

ملاحظة مهمة :

أي معنى للتسامي وتجاوز الألم والتفوق على الذات وتحقيق قيمة الوجود الإنساني أعظم من الشعور بأنّك تقترب من الله بالتحقق بالأسماء والصفات التي أخبر بها عن نفسه وأثنى على عباده المتخلّقين بها؟


في النهاية مقولة دوستويفسكي التي عنون بها الدكتور فرانكل حالته في المعتقل و حالة الإنسان عموما

" الإنسان كائن قادر على أن يتعوّد كل شيء، ولعلّ هذا خير تعريف يمكن أن يعرَّف به الإنسان ".

ذكريات من منزل الأموات

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Merci .
Thank you .

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
September 13, 2021
Trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager = Man's Search for Meaning; an introduction to logotherapy, Viktor E. Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome.

According to Frankl, the way a prisoner imagined the future affected his longevity. The book intends to answer the question "How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?" Part One constitutes Frankl's analysis of his experiences in the concentration camps, while Part Two introduces his ideas of meaning and his theory called logotherapy.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «انسان در جستجوی معنی»؛ «انسان در جستجوی معنی غایی»؛ «درون خود را جستجو کنید خودشناسی و خودباوری آشنایی با معنی درمانی»؛ «انسان در جستجوی معنا»؛ نویسنده: ویکتور امیل فرانکل؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه می سال 1975میلادی

عنوان: انسان در جستجوی معنی؛ نویسنده: ویکتور امیل فرانکل؛ مترجمها: نهضت صالحیان؛ مهین میلانی؛ چاپ نخست تهران، دانشگاه تهران، 1354؛ چاپ دوم تهران، آذر، 1363؛ در 260ص؛ کتابنامه از ص 236، تا ص 259؛ چاپ چهارم: 1368؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، نهضت صالحیان و مهین میلانی، 1370؛ چاپ بعدی 1371؛ چاپ هشتم تهران، درسا، 1374؛ چاپ دوازدهم 1381؛ موضوع اردوگاه اسیران آلمان، روانشناسی، زندانیان، از نویسندگان اتریش - سده 20م

عنوان: انسان در جستجوی معنی غایی؛ نویسنده: ویکتور امیل فرانکل؛ مترجمها: احمد صبوری؛ عباس شمیم؛ چاپ نخست تهران، صداقصیده، 1381؛ در207ص؛ شابک ایکس - 964641172؛ کتابنامه از ص 165، تا ص 186؛

عنوان: انسان در جستجوی معنی؛ نویسنده: ویکتور امیل فرانکل؛ مترجم: اکبر معارفی؛ تهران، موسسه انتشارات دانشگاه تهران، 1378؛ در 106ص؛ شابک 9640337854؛ کتابنامه از ص 105، تا ص 106؛ چاپ نهم 1388، شابک 9789640337851؛ چاپ یازدهم 1393؛

عنوان: درون خود را جستجو کنید خودشناسی و خودباوری آشنایی با معنی درمانی؛ نویسنده: ویکتور امیل فرانکل؛ مترجم: الهام مبارکی زاده؛ تهران، پل، 1388؛ در 240ص؛ شابک 9789642330058؛

عنوان: انسان در جستجوی معنا؛ نویسنده: ویکتور امیل فرانکل؛ مترجم: مهدی گنجی؛ ویراستار حمزه گنجی؛ تهران، ساوالان، 1392؛ در 243ص؛ شابک 9789647609890؛

عنوان: انسان در جستجو�� معنا؛ نویسنده: ویکتور امیل فرانکل؛ مترجم: امیر لاهوتی؛ تهران، جامی، 1394؛ در 184ص؛ شابک9786001761157؛

کتاب «انسان در جستجوی معنا»، اثر: «ویکتور فرانکل»، روان‌پزشک، عصب‌ شناس، و پدیدآورنده ی لوگوتراپی «اتریشی» است، که نخستین بار در سال 1946میلادی منتشر شد؛ این کتاب، دربردارنده ی یادمانهای «فرانکل»، از وضعیت خود، و سایر قربانیان اردوگاه‌های کار اجباری «آلمان»، در خلال جنگ دوم جهانی است؛ «فرانکل» در این کتاب، به عنوان یک روان‌شناس اگزیستانسیالیت، به اهمیت جستجوی معنا برای زندگی، در سخت‌ترین شرایط زندگی می‌پردازند، و ضمن روایت یادمانهای خویش، از اردوگاه‌ها�� کار اجباری، تلاش می‌کنند، نگرش تازه ی خویش را در روان‌شناسی (لوگوتراپی) تبیین کنند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 01/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 21/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
December 11, 2019

This is a short but extremely intense book, first published in 1946. It begins with the author's experiences in four (!!) different German concentration camps in WWII, including Auschwitz, and how he coped with those experiences -- and saw others cope with them, or not. He continues in the second half of this book with a discussion of his approach to psychiatry, called logotherapy, based on the belief that each person needs to find something in his or her life, something particular and personal to them, to give their life meaning. We need to look outside ourselves.
There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is meaning in one's life. There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche: "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
The first half of the book is completely absorbing, fascinating reading. When I tried to read the second, more academic part of it years ago, I floundered (I don't think I ever got through to the end). But I stuck with it this time and found it truly rewarding.

The second part did sometimes challenge my brain cells with concepts like this:
I never tire of saying that the only really transitory aspects of life are the potentialities; but as soon as they are actualized, they are rendered realities at that very moment; they are saved and delivered into the past, wherein they are rescued and preserved from transitoriness. For, in the past, nothing is irretrievably lost but everything is irrevocably stored.
I had to read that one two or three times before I felt like I really grasped what Frankl was saying. And this one:
Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!
I assume it's to help give us motivation to avoid making a wrong choice, by thinking through the likely consequences of what we are about to do. But there are so many nuggets of wisdom in this short volume. A few things that really impacted me:
We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.

One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated.

It is one of the basic tenets of logotherapy that man's main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life. ... In accepting this challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end.

Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment. By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.
Inspiring words; inspiring life.

Bonus material: Here is an interview with Viktor Frankl when he was 90 years old. He died just a couple of years later.
Profile Image for Bushra Omar.
134 reviews511 followers
July 3, 2012
" الإنسان يبحث عن المعنى " – مقدمة في العلاج بالمعنى.. التسامي بالنفس

في كل مرة تفتح كتابًا، توقع أن يحصل لك شيئًا عظيمًا! كأن تولد من جديد .. و هذا ما حدث معي بالفعل، و تعتبر هذه ولادتي الثالثة في الحياة، فالانسان يسمو في كل مرة و يرتفع خطوة جديدة وتتبدل قناعته الأولى، فإذا ما كنت وصلت مسبقًا إلى معنى البحث عن النفس و تحقيق الذات، فإنني بعد كتاب "فرانكل" أخرج من سجن فكرة إلى فكرة أعمق!! ، من سجن الهدف و التوتر و السعي للاتزان إلى المعنى
" لا يمكن التوصل إلى تحقيق الذات إذا جعله الشخص كفايه في حد ذاته، و لكن يكون هذا ممكنا إذا نظر إليه كأثر جانبي للتسامي بالذات"
اتفق معه كثيرًا ، فإذا ما تحول إحقاق الذات لهدف، و بغية الوصول إليه بأي طريق، قد تؤدي إلى الضياع و عدم الشعور به حتى لو حدث و وصل إليه، يشبه ذلك من يريد السعادة كهدف، ثم يجد نفسه يأخّر حصولها في كل مرة بسبب إضافته لمعايير جديدة لسعادته!!

الكتاب مقسم لثلاث أجزاء كالتالي:
القسم الأول : خبرات في معسكر القتال :
و فيه يطرح فرانكل خبرته و ما عاشه هو ورفاقه داخل السجن، الحقيقة أن كل ما قرأته مؤلمًا، و يجرد الحياة الانسانية من الانسان نفسه! ، أنا التي آمنت دائمًا بعظمة هذا الانسان و أن الانسانية لا يمكن أن تسلب منه تحت كل الظروف الضاغطة عليه .. يأتي هنا فرانكل ليحلل تحليلاً دقيقًا و مدهشًا لثلاث أطوار يمر بها السجين و هي كالتالي :
* الصدمة الطور الأول لردود الأفعال النفسية
و ذكر بعدها أمر أثار دهشتي ألا وهو " رد الفعل غير السوي إزاء موقف غير سوي هو استجابة سوية "!!
* البلادة و الموت الانفعالي هما الطور الثاني لردود الأفعال النفسية
يذكر هنا أن الانسان يلجأ للبلادة كوسيلة للدفاع عن الذات وتخليصها من الألم النفسي، كما تفعل روح المرح أيضا
* الطور الثالث/ تحدث فيه عن سيكولوجية السجين بعد الافراج عنه ( فقدان القدرة على الاحساس بالسرور- اختلال الشخصية .. الخ )

صادفتني في هذا القسم :
فقرة شيقة عنوانها " خلاص الانسان هو من خلال الحب و في الحب "
يقول الحقيقة أن الحب هو الهدف الغائي و الأسمى الذي يمكن أن يطمع إليه الانسان!

في الحرية و الاختيار يقول فرانكل " كل شيء يمكن أن يؤخذ من الانسان عدا شيئًا واحدًا و هذا الشيء الواحد هو آخر شيء من الحريات الانسانية – و هو أن يختار المرء اتجاهه في ظروف معينة، أي يختار المرء طريقه "

تحدث أيضاً عن المعاناة و أنها شيء نسي!
" إن المعاناة تغمر الروح الانسامية كلها و العقل الواعي بأكمله، بصرف النظر عما إذا كانت المعاناة كبيرة أم صغيرة _ مسألة نسبية"

في نهاية هذا الجزء المؤلم والشيق! و بطريقة فرانكل في ذكر القصة و التحليل معًا، نشأت لدي شخصية معهم! و أدركت الكثير مما سلطته عليّ لأعيش سجنًا معنويًا، ولحسن الحظ أن حديث فرانكل كان ينسجم مع الحياة كليًا، ولم يقتصر على سجناء المعسكر!
في نهايته كتب جملة هزتني وتوقفت عندها كثيرًا " لقد دعوت الله من سجني الضيق، فأجابني في رحابة الكون "
هل لي أن أقول أن الله أرسل لي هذه الكتاب لأغرق في رحابته! و أتوسّع من داخلي؟

القسم الثاني: المبادئ الأساسية للعلاج بالمعنى:
هنا يكرر الحديث مرة أخرى لكن بطريقة مدهشة و تأكيديه مفصلة و علمية أكثر
سأكتب ملخصًا بسيطًا يوضح ما ذكره، لأن مثل هذا الكتاب يُغرق فيه و لايسهل الحديث عنه!
* إرادة المعنى : إن سعي الانسان إلى البحث عن معنى هو قوة أولية في حياته
* الاحباط الوجودي: يذكر أنه يتولد من الصراعات بين القيم المختلفة- المعنوية الأخلاقية
احتفظت باقتباسات تنفي قضية الاتزان التي كنت أؤمن بها! و توضح أن فترات التوتر التي أمر بها طبيعة!
- ليس كل صراع بالضرورة عصابيًا فمقدار من الصراع سوي و صحي، و كذلك ليس كل معاناة حالة مرضية و هي بالتالي ليست عرضًا من أعراض العصاب، لذا فإن المعاناة قد تكون أنجازًا انسانيًا طيباً، خاصة إذا كانت تنشأ من الاحباط الوجودي.
_ ليس مايحتاجه الانسان هو حالة اللاتوتر و لكنه يحتاج إلى السعي والاجتهاد في سبيل هدف يستحق أن يعيش من أجله.
* الفراغ الوجودي: يقول أنه يتمثل في حالة الملل!
و منه يبدأ الانسان تعويض إرادة المعنى المحبطة بـ إرادة القوة/ اللذة
كما يوضح لنا طرق تمكننا من كشف المعنى في الحياة، و هي ثلاثة
1- الاتيان بفعل و عمل ( الانجاز/ التحقيق)
2- أن نخبر قيمة من القيم ( ويتحدث فيها عن معنى الحب )
3- أن تعيش حالة المعاناة ( معنى المعاناة)
يذكر ما قاله دوستويفكسي : يوجد شيئ واحد فقط يروعني و هو " ألا أكون جديرًا بآلامي "
فإذا كان الانسان يملك معنى لحياته فمؤكد أنه سيجد معنى للمعناته وآلاآمه!
" إن المعاناة تتوقف من أن تكون معاناة بشكل ما، في اللحظة التي تكتسب فيها معنى"

القسم الثالث: التسامي بالذات
و كانه مراجعة لكل السابق بمحاولة سمو الانسان بذاته و تجاوزها.

و أخيرًا هناك نقطة قيمة لصالح العلاج بالمعنى وهي [إ ن العلاج بالمعنى يرى في " الالتزام بالمسؤلية" الجوهر الحقيقي للوجود الانسان]
و هذه تعني أنه سيلفت نظرك لما يجب أن تفكر فيه، لكنه ابدًا لن يفرض عليك قرارته، فالأمر كله ينبع من داخلك، من أعماقك
Profile Image for Francisco.
Author 22 books54.9k followers
February 8, 2016
This book stands out as one of the most helpful tools I've found in my life-long search for the way to live and be useful to others despite depression. As opposed to Freud, who believed that the primary drive in man, the most urgent motivation, was pleasure, Frankl believes that it is meaning. Now meaning for Frankl is not something abstract and airy and noble but rather something very concrete and specific to your life - what is the task that life asks of you that only you can do? Look at the circumstances of your life, look at your talents and the people that surround you. Where is the need that is calling for you to respond? For Frankl, the hope that kept him trudging on day by day in the concentration camps was the need to re-write the manuscript (taken away when first imprisoned) where he could present to the world his theory of Logotherapy. Why I found this book so helpful in my struggles with depression is because one of the rock-bottom places where depression can take you is despair. Despair is the absence of hope. The search for meaning, for a response to something life is asking of you, is the place where hope is born. Frankl states that hope, like genuine laughter or like faith or love is not something that we can will into being. We cannot make hope appear willy nilly in our lives because hope is more than a nice thought, it is, like true love something that involves your whole being. I find this to be true but there are things that we can do to prepare the way for hope's arrival and hope will come, it will always come. We can search for meaning because searching and looking and asking and expecting are acts and attitudes that we can will. Meaning, according to Frankl is found in three different forms. Meaning is found in creating or doing. Meaning is found in experiencing something greater than ourselves and in encountering another being through love. And finally, meaning can be found in the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering. The important thing here is that in all of these instances the value of the thing that gives meaning is subjective. There is no scale out there that says that writing a novel gives more meaning than helping your spouse with the dishes. When it comes to meaning, the small, the hidden, the unsaid is as important as the great acts of genius and you alone are the judge. Orienting yourself to responding in some way to what life is asking of you may not be the sole cure to depression but it is for me a necessary part of any healing process, of learning to live and be useful, despite the illness.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,173 reviews8,386 followers
May 11, 2016
I have to separate the emotional impact of the first half of the book from my overall impression on how effective the book was as a whole. It's really difficult not to find stories of the holocaust incredibly gripping, and the way in which Frankl speaks of his experience is inspiring and yet still maintains that gravity you'd expect from such a narrative.
However, the latter half of the book delves much more into a psychological, and less personal, examination of 'logotherapy' (that is, the author's personal psychological theory). Once it became more of a text book with small sections reflecting on specific terms and theories, it was difficult to stay engaged. I also felt it lacked the cohesiveness that the first part of the book had with a more linear narrative structure.
Nonetheless, the nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from this book were worth the reading. And I can only commend Frankl on his 'tragic optimism' in such a horrific environment as a Nazi concentration camp.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,407 followers
August 26, 2023
I never thought the book would actually deal with psychiatry, neuroses and some basic mental health issues.

The book just ended.

Did it just end? Like end?!

I was so enjoying the concepts and the writing.

Loved the later half of the book more. Actually O should not compare as it is almost like the author is trying to present those days at concentration camps in the first part and in the second part, how his concept of logotherapy/various mental disorders/physiological health issues should be dealt with.

This book is so informative and insightful from a very practical point of view, historically relevant and quite helpful from a medical point of view.

It helps that the author is from the said field and he just wrote everything important in such a concise manner that you just cannot afford to skip a word.

I have less information about concentration camps or the history behind it. But yes, this book is like 80 percent more than that.

This is not a story of survival or a description of how the author suffered during those days. Of course, suffering was there. And oh, how the author described suffering in a new light attached to the meaning of life!

I really loved the writing.

This book is going to help me in both my personal as well as my profession.

This book will remain next to me.

If I were to annotate this book, I would have to just highlight each and every sentence of part two of the book.

I will definitely reread this book. Because life's meaning isn't constant. And yes, I need that motivation and life's understanding as discussed in this short book.


*There's so much more to this book regarding the camp inmates; discussion on the psychology of prisoners; it not only handles about life issues on just all the issues mentioned before but also about life in general - family and various human needs and emotions.

*Love the parts where he talked about his wife. Loved it so much!

Thanks to my Instagram buddies who recommended this book at one of my recent posts.

Definitely loving taking recommendations ❤️
Profile Image for Liong.
147 reviews114 followers
March 10, 2023
I enjoyed reading Part One and I felt a bit bored when I read Part Two.

Overall, this is one of the best books to tell the living experience in the WWII concentration camp in Auschwitz where there are horrible places such as gas chambers, crematoriums, and massacres.

They can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.

You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.

I would also like to recommend "The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku." if you like this book.
Profile Image for Tharindu Dissanayake.
288 reviews558 followers
July 11, 2020
"no one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them."

"Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning."

Man's Search for Meaning provides an unbiased narration of the experiences faced by a prisoner in a concentration camp, and the effects of it on one's most inner self. This is not a book on the specifics of torture, or other such inhumane things, but a prisoner's psychological impacts caused from numerous hardships.

"No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same."

Dr. Frankl incorporates his own experiences while trying to find common ground among the prisoners and how one must survive when all else is lost. The first autobiographical section is followed by an evaluation of the adapted methodology, in which the author clearly describes the fundamentals of the basics and specifics on this school of thought. This is a very unique interpretation as to how a man should live, while allowing reader to relate his own experiences and to see life in a different perspective.

"at any time each of the moments of which life consists is dying, and that moment will never recur. And yet is not this transitoriness a reminder that challenges us to make the best possible use of each moment of our lives?"
Profile Image for Raha.
186 reviews186 followers
July 18, 2018
داشتم فکر می کردم که دنیا با وجود این همه وحشی گری هنوز هم میتونه جای قشنگی برای آدم ها باشه. اما دوست دارم زمانی که این مساله رو به عنوان یه باور به زبون میارم ، اون آدمی باشم که تصوری واقعی از زشتی دنیا داره و اون نیمه ی تاریک زندگی رو هم لمس کرده

بخونید این کتاب رو ، حتما بخونید. حداقل چیزی که ازش بدست می آرید اینه که متوجه میشین انسان ها در بدترین شرایط روحی و جسمی شون باز هم قادر به ادامه دادن زندگی هستند. اینکه معنای زندگی هامون فراتر از شکست خوردن و به آسانی تسلیم شدن هست، و اینکه هستند انسان هایی که با لمس سیاه ترین نیمه ی این دنیا هنوز به وجود زیبایی هاش معتقدن
Profile Image for Mohammed.
447 reviews581 followers
July 12, 2023
لابد أنك قابلت بعضهم!

من مروا بتجارب قاسية:
إفلاس عَقِب ثراء
قسوة البشر
علاقة فاشلة
مكوث في السجن
مَرض مُقعد

أصيبوا باضطرابات نفسية أشد بطشًا من الظروف التي مروا بها:

اكتئاب مرضي
ارتياب ووسوسة
اضطراب ثنائي القطبية
خوف غير منطقي

مالم تحصن نفسيتك من الداخل، فستهشم مطارق الحياة زجاج روحك بشكل يستعصي على الإصلاح.
يتمترس البعض خلف الإيمان، بينما تغرق ثلةٌ في العمل، يرتمي القليل في أحضان الحب فيما يتلجئ الآخرون إلى بيت العائلة.

كلما سبق أدرجه الدكتور فرانكل تحت مسمى (المعنى)، فالمعنى –من وجهة نظره- هو مايحمي الإنسان من الإنكسار في الأوقات العصيبة.
ينقسم الكتاب إلى قسمين، يروي في القسم الأول جانبًا من تجربته في معتقل أوشيفتز النازي في سياق بحث الإنسان عن المعنى. وفي القسم التالي يشرح أطروحاته حول العلاج النفسي باستخدام المعنى مستلهما تجربته في المعتقل وتجاربه مع مرضى وأصدقاء.

أفَضل هنا ألّا أذكر ما يحتويه الكتاب بل ما ليس فيه، كي أزيل عن القارئ المحتمل بعض الأفكار المُسبقة التي قد تثنيه عن قراءته:
هذا الكتاب:

1- لا يندرج تحت لائحة تطوير الذات. فهو يخلو من النصائح المباشرة، والخطوات التي يُنصح باتباعها والجداول والخطط وكل ذلك الدجل الأنيق الوارد في بعض كتب التطوير الشخصي.
2- لا يستغل معاناة المعتقلين للدعاية الدينية أو السياسية.
3- ليس أكاديميًا محضًا وإن احتوى على بعض المصطلحات الثقيلة، وليس قصصيًا صِرفًا، بل يستخدم القصص لدعم نظرية معينة في علم النفس.
4- ليس مخصصًا لكل من داهمه اليأس أو الضنك فحسب بل لكل من ينشد الصحة النفسية والتأمل في تقلبات هذه الدنيا وتأثيرها على بني البشر.

كتاب قيّم ومميز. أحب الكتب التي تطرح علم النفس بشكل مفهوم، وهي نادرة على قدر علمي.
Profile Image for Nika.
151 reviews163 followers
June 10, 2023
"This book does not claim to be an account of facts and events but of personal experiences, experiences which millions of prisoners have suffered time and again. It is the inside story of a concentration camp, told by one of its survivors."

This book deals with history, psychology, and philosophy. It is about human suffering and the light of hope that shines even in the darkest times. Victor Frankl survived Nazi concentration camps. His experiences would enable him to develop his psychological theories aimed at helping people.

As a survivor, Frankl recounts what helped him keep going while facing many harrowing situations in the camps. According to the author, feeling that life has meaning and having a sense of purpose, no matter what it is, is essential. One has to expect something from the future in order to endure cruelty and injustice.
Those prisoners who knew why they should stay alive were more likely to survive. Losing the meaning of life was dangerous. Victor tells about one man who died almost immediately after his reason for surviving was invalidated. Shattered hopes can be very dangerous as well.

The author wanted to live for he dreamt of finishing the text he had been working on. His manuscript had been confiscated upon his arrival in the concentration camp. Frankl was trying to find ways to somehow restore it.
Helping his fellow prisoners was one of the things that added a certain meaning to seemingly meaningless suffering. By comforting others you can improve your own mental state.
The author tries to empathize with different situations in which prisoners may find themselves and not pass judgment on them. Sacrifice has a meaning, according to Frankl, and human kindness can be found everywhere.

This work also touches on the psychology of the prisoner who has been released. At first, the new freedom seems unreal to them, "as in a dream."

The book made me look at the notion of life's purpose from a different angle. I have always been thinking that the meaning of life is life itself.
However, sometimes something more substantial is needed. As Frankl points out, having some visible goal could mean the world to him and his fellow prisoners. It allowed them to remain humans in dehumanizing circumstances when people turned on people without mercy.

I can only admire a man who went through hell and was nevertheless able to preserve his inner strength and integrity. Victor's resilience, stoic attitude to pain, and faith in humankind fascinate me. Much wisdom can be found in some of his observations. That being said, Frankl's philosophy, in which his religious beliefs played a big part, did not always resonate with me. I did not always agree with what he was saying.

Here are a few quotes to end this review.

"From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two—the 'race' of the decent man and the 'race' of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense, no group is of 'pure race'—and therefore one occasionally found a decent fellow among the camp guards."

"The rift dividing good from evil, which goes through all human beings, reaches into the lowest depths and becomes apparent even on the bottom of the abyss which is laid open by the concentration camp."

"When we are no longer able to change a situation—just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer—we are challenged to change ourselves."

"Therefore, it was necessary to face up to the full amount of suffering, trying to keep moments of weakness and furtive tears to a minimum. But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer."
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,443 followers
April 27, 2023
Firește, Viktor Emil Frankl (1905 - 1997) nu și-a propus să ofere (încă) o relatare a anilor petrecuți în lagăr de un inocent, ci o meditație asupra individului captiv și a transformărilor suferite de psihicul său. Poți să fii de acord (sau nu) cu ideile sale, dar ele provin dintr-o experiență-limită, asupra căreia autorul a meditat îndelung.

Chiar dacă a dictat în nouă zile prima parte a cărții, Viktor Frankl a urmat, cu siguranță, o serie de note și „sistematizări”. Autorul încearcă să întemeieze o concluzie - viața are sens - și din această pricină nu urmează cronologia și nici nu descrie amănunțit toate suferințele prin care a trecut: nu dă nume, oferă o perspectivă de sus, austeră. Observă că, de obicei, psihicul captiv trece prin trei stadii. Uluirea inițială, revolta pot duce la o stare de apatie („Nu mai are nici un rost să trăiesc, moartea e preferabilă”) sau, în cazuri izolate, la intuirea sensului ascuns pînă și în suferința cea mai atroce. Firește, sensul nu e ceva valabil pentru toți, ceva ce ți se impune de sus, sensul vieții ține de o decizie strict personală: „Tovarășii mei de lagăr se temeau să ia decizii sau să aibă orice fel de inițiativă... Prizonierul prefera să lase soarta să aleagă în locul său” (pp.70-71).

Pentru a-și păstra echilibrul mintal, prizonierul poate încerca o serie de „exerciții spirituale”, în tradiția celor prescrise cîndva de Ignatiu de Loyola. Cel mai important dintre ele este neîndoielnic vizualizarea minuțioasă a persoanei iubite (în cazul lui Frankl a fost Mathilde / Tilly Grosser, prima lui soție). O variantă a acestui exercițiu e vizualizarea unui eveniment fericit din viitor:
„Mă scîrbisem de starea aceea de lucruri care mă constrîngea, zi de zi şi ceas de ceas, să mă gîndesc doar la astfel de lucruri mărunte. Mi-am silit gîndurile să treacă la un alt subiect. Brusc, m-am văzut stînd în picioare într-o sală de conferințe bine luminată, caldă şi plăcută. În faţa mea, un public atent şedea pe nişte scaune tapiţate, confortabile. Ţineam o prelegere despre psihologia lagărelor de concentrare” (p.86).

Reflecțiile lui Frankl nu sînt niciodată confortabile. Citez cel mai provocator pasaj:
„Noi, cei care am trăit în lagărele de concentrare, ne amintim de aceia care treceau din baracă în baracă, mîngîindu-i pe ceilalţi, dăruindu-le ultima lor îmbucătură de pîine. Vor fi fost puţini la număr, dar ei ne dau îndeajuns de multe dovezi că omului i se poate lua totul, mai puţin un lucru: ultima dintre libertăţile umane - respectiv aceea de a-și alege propria atitudine într-un anumit set de împrejurări date, de a-și alege propriul mod de a fi... La o ultimă analiză, ne devine limpede că genul de persoană care ajungea să devină deţinutul era rezultatul unei decizii lăuntrice, nu doar rezultatul influenţelor lagărului asupra sa” (p.79).

Găsim aici cîteva sugestii foarte asemănătoare cu cele formulate de Sartre în 1943: omul e obligat mereu să aleagă, refuzul alegerii e tot o alegere, noi înșine alegem să fim liberi (sau nu). De noi depinde să fim bestii sau sfinți... Sigur că aceste opinii sînt discutabile: nu cred că viața are sens și nu cred că „voința de sens” conduce negreșit la sens, dar asta e o altă poveste...
Profile Image for Emily.
Author 1 book20 followers
January 31, 2023
After the Book of Mormon, this would be my second recommendation to anyone looking for purpose in life.

Here's a poignant excerpt from one of my favorite parts of the book when Frankl has been in Auschwitz and other camps for several years and doesn't know the war is only weeks away from ending. He had decided to escape his camp near Dachau with a friend and was visiting some of his patients for the last time.

"I came to my only countryman, who was almost dying, and whose life it had been my ambition to save in spite of myself, but my comrade seemed to guess that something was wrong (perhaps I showed a little nervousness). In a tired voice he asked me, 'You too, are getting out?' I denied it, but I found it difficult to avoid his sad look. After my round I returned to him. Again a hopeless look greeted me and somehow I felt it to be an accusation. The unpleasant feeling that had gripped me as soon as I had told my friend I would escape with him became more intense.

Suddenly I decided to take fate into my own hands for once. I ran out of the hut and told my friend that I could not go with him. As soon as I had told him with finality that I had made up my mind to stay with my patients, the unhappy feeling left me. I did not know what the following days would bring, but I had gained an inward peace that I had never experienced before. I returned to the hut, sat down on the boards at my countryman's feet and tried to comfort him..."

I found such strength and wisdom in this book--strength and advice for me as a mother of six young children. While potty training, bending over to clean up a handful of toys for the the thousandth time that day, scraping Play Dough off of a filthy kitchen floor on hands and knees, and preparing the fifth snack of the day for several hungry mouths (directly after doing the dishes from the previous snack) I find the text of this book to give profound meaning to small and simple acts of selflessness, patience, and service. What a profound reminder that "The immediate influence of behavior is always more effective than that of words." I desperately needed to read this book, if only to remember to be calm and kind to my little ones so that they will pass on the favor to their own next generation.

Bravo to Viktor Frankl for bringing human frailty and greatness into perspective.

"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
Profile Image for AscultSiCitesc.
11 reviews939 followers
March 6, 2022
Pentru prima mea carte de psihologie este un rating foarte mare. A contat mult momentul in care am citit-o, pentru ca aveam nevoie de ea.
M-a facut sa constientizez ca este important optimismul in orice moment prin care trecem in viata.
Mi-a mai ramas si ideea de “terapie prin citit” in care cred de cativa ani.
“O atitudine pozitiva ii permite omului sa suporte suferinta si dezamagirea, dar si sa sporeasca bucuriile si satisfactia.”
Profile Image for فرشاد.
150 reviews298 followers
July 30, 2015
باشد که با این خواندن، از این بی معنا یی زندگی، رهایی پیدا کنم...
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,107 reviews534 followers
May 6, 2022

One of the first of Viktor Frankl's books that transformed my thinking and my world view. Man cannot survive without hope, and hope cannot survive feelings of futility or meaninglessness. We must therefore move away from despair and negativity and look for meaning in our suffering, or grow from it and find a different path. Everyone should read this book.

Lately, I have been evaluating Frankl's messages about Love, that: "Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire" and "Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him".
As Eleanor Roosevelt pointed out, many of us are afraid to fully "love" - we fear being being exposed to hurt. If, as I have come to conclude, there is Yin and Yang in all things, then there is joy and suffering even in the state of love. To open ourselves to love, therefore, requires courage and acceptance of both states. So perhaps we should be taught to be courageous first, to be more fearless. Maybe then we would be more open to the inevitable pain as well as joys of love?

Profile Image for Pakinam Mahmoud.
813 reviews3,491 followers
September 15, 2023
الإنسان يبحث عن المعني ...كتاب للطبيب النفسي فيكتور فرانكل و هو يعتبر مؤسس مدرسة فيينا الثالثة في العلاج النفسي بعد مدرستي فرويد و إدلر...

دكتور فرانكل مش بس طبيب نفسي و لكنه واجه ظروف صعبة جداً حيث كان معتقلاً في معسكرات الإعتقال النازية خلال الحرب العالمية الثانية و فقد كل من والده،أخوه وزوجته الذين لقوا حتفهم في هذه المعسكرات...

الكتاب مقسم إلي جزئين ...الجزء الأول بيتكلم فيه الكاتب عن تجربته الشخصية في المعتقل وبيحلل نفسيا كل ما يمر به أي سجين مستنداً طبعاً لملاحظات كثيرة للمسجونين وخبراتهم وما عايشه بنفسه من تجربة قاسية ومؤلمة ..أما الجزء الثاني فهو بيتكلم بإيجاز عن أفكاره ونظريته للعلاج بالمعني اللي ممكن نختصرها في مقولة نيتشة
"من يمتلك سبباً يعيش من أجله فإنه يستطيع غالباً أن يتحمل بأي طريقة وبأي حال.."

الكتاب الصراحة مفيد جداً ..و أنا أعتبرته ميكس بين أدب السجون و علم النفس ..مكتوب بإسلوب بسيط ومش معقد...
الجزء الأخير يحتوي علي بعض التحليلات والمصطلحات العلمية اللي كانت صعبة وجافة شوية
بس هو عموماً جزء صغير لكن معظم الكتاب كان فعلاً سلس..

الكتاب حيخليك تقف مع نفسك و تفكر في حاجات كتير بطريقة إيجابية وحيخليك تؤمن إن طبيعي إننا نضايق و نمر بظروف صعبة و إن المعاناة جزء طبيعي من حياتنا ومهماً حصلك كفاية إن يكون عندك حد بتحبه وبيحبك أو حاجة بتؤمن بيها أو هدف نفسك توصله ودة لوحده كافي إنه يعطي معني لحياتك ويخليك تحبها و تتمسك بيها...

شكر واجب لصديقي العزيز محمد قائد علي ترشيح هذا الكتاب الرائع..
بالتأكيد ينصح به...
Profile Image for Carlos.
109 reviews94 followers
September 22, 2023
No tengo absolutamente nada en contra de este libro, sino todo lo contrario: hace reflexionar profundamente acerca de cuánto un ser humano puede sufrir (y aguantar). Cuando lo leí, estuve el día completo pensando en el libro y en sus historias, y de pasada, quiero interiorizarme un poco en lo que es la logoterapia.
Le puse 3 estrellas porque es un libro tipo motivacional y esos definitivamente no son mi estilo. La verdad es que no me gusta leer mucho de esto, precisamente porque es triste, pero lo leí porque tenía curiosidad al ser un libro tan nombrado y no me arrepiento de haberlo leído en absoluto.
Totalmente recomendable.
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,301 reviews22k followers
August 11, 2017
I’ve been meaning to read this for a very long time, but have to admit that the idea of reading a book by someone who survived the Holocaust with long descriptions of that part of their life included with graphic detail didn’t really make me want to jump at the chance. And this book is harrowing – particularly the first half or so – the pain is infinite.

I was also keen to find out what he felt he learnt from this experience about how to live a good life. I have to say that I found this part of the book quite unsatisfying. His discussion of ‘logotherapy’ left me cold, I’m afraid. I don’t really like books that say things that amount to – this guy came to see me about some problem that had plagued his life for decades, I said three sentences to him and he went away with a skip and a spring in his step.

There are bits of this that are worthwhile – you know, suffering isn’t an ‘and also’ in life, but often learning how to live with (rather than overcome) suffering is our key task. Yes, I think the Buddha said something similar. That life is better with a meaning is also hardly novel either, although, I guess not something the Buddha said, so much.

Psychology is a subject that inevitably stresses the position of the individual, and the psychology of a man who has lived through an experience where those with power held his life in utter contempt and enjoyed making it clear to him that his ongoing existence was completely at their discretion would hardly encourage him to seek meaning in ‘grand projects’ and such. But I don’t really like psychology and worry it gazes wistfully down the wrong end of the telescope.

I feel awful writing this review, by the way. It feels disrespectful to criticise a book written by someone who lived through something so utterly unimaginable and disgusting. But this is a book providing advice on how one should live one’s life – and even though people tend to think that having lived through the unspeakable is qualification enough to write such a book, I find I can’t really agree. As he makes too clear, sometimes we can look into the abyss and learn nothing from it at all. What he has learnt is better than what some of his fellow prisoners learnt, but if anything this book should be a reminder that someone forced to live through the banality of evil isn’t really under obligations to learn cuddly and life-affirming lessons from that experience. All to the good if that is what you do learn – but it does seem to compound the punishment of such an experience if such ‘lessons’ become mandatory.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,520 reviews8,995 followers
July 23, 2014
While reading Man's Search for Meaning, I could not stop thinking: why can't I be a psychologist now? By the time I reached page 103, I wanted to highlight passage after passage, or at least add them to my favorite quotes on Goodreads to preserve their impact forever.

Frankl divides his inspiring book into two parts. The first describes his experience living in Nazi death camps and how he dealt with the doom and decay that always surrounded him. He laces his story with astute, dispassionate observations about his emotions and the suffering of those around him. The second section explores a type of therapy that arose from his time in the death camps: logotherapy. Logotherapy focuses on helping people find meaning in their lives, to give them a greater sense of purpose and to push them past the obstacles they face. He writes that people can discover meaning in three different ways: 1) by creating a work or doing a deed, 2) by experiencing something or encountering someone, and 3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering (this last option is only meaningful when the first two are unavailable).

Overall, I would recommend this book to those interested in psychology, or those who want to read an inspiring tale by someone who survived the Nazi death camps and used his experience to transcend himself. Frankl veers into the spiritual side in the second portion of the book, which might perturb a few people, but for the most part he keeps his ideas open to everyone. For the rest of the review I'm just going to write down all of the book because it was so good a few of the quotes about logotherapy that stood out to me, so I can reference them later on. Feel free to read or skip.

(about man and meaning) "As each situation in life represents a challenge to man and presents a problem for him to solve, the question of the meaning of life may actually be reversed. Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by becoming responsible. Thus, logotherapy sees in responsibleness the very essence of human existence."

(about transcending the self) "By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this constitutive characteristic 'the self-transcendence of human existence.' It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself - be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself - by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love - the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence."

(about how we mistakenly use money and sex to replicate meaning) "Moreover, there are various masks and guises under which the existential vacuum appears. Sometimes the frustrated will to meaning is vicariously compensated for by a will to power, including the most primitive form of the will to power, the will to money. In other cases, the place of frustrated will is meaning is taken by the will to pleasure. That is why existential frustration often eventuates in sexual compensation. We can observe in such cases that the sexual libido becomes rampant in the existential vacuum."

Of course I would love to include a few more passages, but I want to avoid writing down the entire book. Perhaps I will purchase a copy, then.
Profile Image for anarki.
79 reviews146 followers
April 16, 2021
TO COMPOSE a brief synthesis of Viktor Frankl’s lucid insights on a prisoner’s self-transcendence over the inhumanity of the Holocaust is the purpose of this brief essay.

From 1941 until 1945, the Jews were held captive and systematically massacred in the concentration camps under the Nazi territories. The covert methods of this genocide included starvation, heavy manual labor under severe conditions, torture, hanging in the gallows, then mass murders, gas chambers, and crematoriums—methods that, by the final stages of the war, had already decimated approximately 11 million people.

Upon captivity, all possessions were taken away from the prisoners, names replaced by numbers, not a strand of hair left unshaven on their bodies. They were forced to toil like animals, despite their serious malnourishment, and slumber in abominably small bunk beds like stacks of corpses.

Nothing was left of the prisoners’ lives but their hope for liberation and their nakedness to the inevitability of death surrounding them. But amid the gamut of terrors, for three years, Frankl, who was a psychiatrist before the occupation, investigated the camp’s psychology and secretly jotted down notes on scraps of paper that served as the manuscript for his own psychotherapeutic theory: that is logotherapy (logos is Greek for meaning).

In his book Man’s Search for Meaning—an autobiography about his Holocaust experience and an introduction to the concepts of logotherapy—Frankl postulated that “the sort of person a prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, not the result of the camp influences alone.”

Numerous prisoners, after recognizing the impossibility of surviving under the camp’s environment, either ran into the electrically charged fences to commit suicide or simply awaited death to come over their beds. They found no meaning in prolonging their unjustifiable suffering.

But Frankl observed there were a few prisoners who “never lost their ideals in the depths of degradation” and possessed a humor that offered necessary self-detachment and reprieve from the conditions. They endured their suffering honorably and remained as though undaunted in the face of the camp’s thoroughly abject reality.

These odd behaviors, however small in number, Frankl concluded, suffice as proof that the “work of choosing” and the “will to meaning” become the “soul’s weapon in the fight for self-preservation.” As long as there is a deep sense of meaning that fortifies the spirit, an individual can suffer without despair and not become subject to decay.

Logotherapy presupposes that man’s inherent will to meaning and freedom of choice are the authors to his own personality: “Man is more than psyche. […] Man is a self-determining being, man decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.”

The antithesis of surrendering to the machinery of the base instincts is the discipline of making conscious decisions in each moment. Between stimulus and response is a space of freedom that is solely determined by the individual’s volition.
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