K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > Man's Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
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Oct 30, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: essays, non-fiction
Recommended to K.D. by: anarki
Read from October 30 to November 01, 2011 — I own a copy

The sun is slowly rising up ushering the dawning of a new day. The mother and the father are sipping their first cups of coffee. Their schooling children are rising up from their bed. The mother attends to her children’s daily routine. She bathes, feeds them their breakfast and makes sure that their things are all in their individual school bags. Para Kanino Ka Bumabangon? (translation: Whom Do You Wake Up For?) is heard as a voice over. This is Nestle’s TV ad for Nescafe coffee but it sends a very clear message: that each of us has our own reason for living and this reason is the meaning of our life, our existence.

In a nutshell, this is what Viktor Emil Frankl (1905-1997) an Austrian Jew, neurologist, psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor, is saying in this 1946 originally-published book, Man’s Search for Meaning. He says that the life of each one of us has its own meaning. That meaning cannot be generalized. His theory of logotherapy which is a form of Existential Analysis, can be used to determine one’s meaning for living or even suffering. Using his horrendous experiences at Auschwitz concentration camp, which he narrated in the first part of this book, he said that he and the other survivors kept themselves alive by imaging and looking forward to their lives after the war. Those who felt hopeless and they could not picture themselves reuniting with their families after the war, perished. As if they had no longer any reason for living and thus they chose to die rather than to survive.

He also said that we should not ask for the meaning of our life. Rather, we should ask what life wants from us.

I have read several books about the holocaust. I have seen and liked Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and read and liked Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark, Imre Kertesz’s Fatelessness, Elie Wiesel’s Night, Victor Klemperer’s I Will Bear Witness and of course Anne Frank’s Diary of the Young Girl. That’s why the first part of this book did not shock me anymore. However, there are some parts here that were new to me like Frankl’s heavy interactions with the Gapos, co-inmates but they have leadership positions and also he, as a doctor, had a chance to escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp together with another doctor. This was the first time I heard that a prisoner could well, almost successfully escape the camp.

The second part of the book is more on clinical analysis and theories about logotheraphy which Frankl pioneered. It is similar to psychotherapy but this one is more forward-looking. It is a type of existentialist analysis that focuses on a will to meaning as opposed to Adler’s Nietzchean doctrine of will to power or Freud’s will to pleasure. Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one's life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. (Source: Wikipedia).

And this striving to find a meaning is the reason why we wake up each morning. Ikaw, para kanino ka bumabangon?
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Reading Progress

10/30/2011 page 8
5.0% "THE WILL TO LIVE was what survived the holocaust victims." 10 comments
10/31/2011 page 47
28.0% "Nice to go back to Holocaust once in a while. It's a nice way to reflect on our own lives." 2 comments
02/26/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly I've read this a long time ago.

He didn't end up finding the meaning he was searching for.

By the way, I got a copy of Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell. Please remove that from the list.

K.D. Absolutely Noted.

message 3: by Apokripos (new) - added it

Apokripos Ayus, may meaning (logotherapy) ka na, may ad ka pa (Nescafe)! And I see, feel, like the analogy you presented.

Nice review! :)

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly I cannot understand your review.

You say that his logotheraphy is founded on the belief that striving to find meaning in one's life that is the primary,most powerful motivating/driving force in humans.

Yet you say that he (Viktor F.) says "we should not ask for the meaning of our life."

It's like Freud saying that sex is the primary driving force in humans, yet at the same time he'll say we humans should not have sex.

Petra Eggs You might enjoy this quote (the first one) from Chaim Potok's wonderful book 'The Chosen' http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/...

K.D. Absolutely Joselito: In the first part of the book, the "memoir", Victor F. said that instead of asking for the meaning of one's life, people should ask what does if want from them.

In the second part, that is the "clinical" presentation of logotherapy, he said that it can be used to find the meaning of one's life.

He only came up with the theory of logotherapy after surviving the Holocaust.

K.D. Absolutely Nice, Petra X. Thanks!

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly Don't you wonder why C.Potok sounds like P. Coelho and their initials are the same, only inverted? (C.P - P.C)

K.D. Absolutely K. Joselito: I am still to read a C. Potok yet. Why?

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly You mean you didn't read the potok quotes sent by petra above? Why did you say "nice"?

message 11: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely I did read them but I normally appreciate an author if I actually read his book. When I review a book, a normally read also Wiki entries about him. Very unlike Nabokov ha ha.

Marin "Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked."

Viktor told us that each of us decides what the meaning of life is, not that life dictates it.

Seems to me you misunderstood the central idea of the book and of logotherapy.

message 13: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Marin, thanks. I might have misunderstood it so this one will go to my to-be-reread books. :)

Marin No problem, thanks for not getting pissed over me disagreeing with your previous posts.

Hooe you enjoy the re-read

message 15: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Marin wrote: "No problem, thanks for not getting pissed over me disagreeing with your previous posts.

Hooe you enjoy the re-read"

No prob. We are all readers here and we differ with our opinions at times.

Lizzy L. An excellent synopsis.

❀Aimee❀ Just one more page... A few years back my family was purchasing a van and had to drive three hours to meet the owner at their parents' home (in between our locations). The parents were holocaust survivors. I can't say that I'd ever met any before. They were very open about talking about it and finding beauty and joy in life and family. However, they watched every movie and read every book they could about the Holocaust. "We must never forget," they said to me. As we talked along, I happened to bring up this book. The father ran to his room and brought out his copy in German. He knew Frankl. They were in the camp together. He was so overjoyed that I knew about it. This was such a powerful visit.

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