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Man's Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust

Man's Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust [Kindle Edition]

Viktor E Frankl
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

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. Therefore, Frankl's logotherapy 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." --Christine Buttery


"Remarkable...It changed my life and became a part of all that I live and all that I teach." (Susan Jeffers, author of Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway and Embracing Uncertainty)

"A poignant testimony...a hymn to the phoenix rising in each of us who choose life before flight." (Brian Keenan, author of An Evil Cradling)

"His works are essential reading for those who seek to understand the human condition." (Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks)

"An enduring work of survival literature." (New York Times)

"If you read but one book this year, Dr Frankl's book should be that one." (Los Angeles Times)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 281 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Digital; New Ed edition (9 Dec 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,865 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
133 of 135 people found the following review helpful
In my opinion, "Man's search for meaning" (1946) is a very interesting book, that will leave you with some practical knowledge easy to apply in your daily life. In a nutshell, and if you aren't feeling like reading a more or less long review, the main idea of this book is that "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how".
The above quoted phrase is from Nietzsche, but don't jump to conclusions: Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) certainly does not share his philosophical ideas. Frankl merely chose one of Nietzsche's phrases as a way to crystallize his own ideas: that is, that the most important force in a person's life is his will to meaning. In a way, this book shows how Frankl reached that conclusion.
The first part of "Man's search for meaning" deals with the author's experiences in a concentration camp, and the lessons he draw from that torturous experience. Frankl said that those that survived had one thing in common, a purpose, and that "everything can be taken from 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 no matter the circumstance".
In the second part of this book, Frankl explains logotheraphy, the theory of psychotherapy he developed. According to the author, logotherapy focuses on the meaning of human existence as well as on a person's search for such meaning, and the consequent purpose. Frankl says that "The meaning of life always changes, but... it never ceases to be", and that we really find ourselves when we find it, or at least our own personal version of it.
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87 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book which changed my life 9 May 2003
"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". This, in essence, summarises the main thrust of this extraordinary book as well as Frankl's psychotherapy. I have spent the last year doing a counselling course and have read innumerable books and have been introduced to innumerable psychological theories, yet none have touched me so profoundly nor changed my perspective so radically as this slim book which Frankl wrote in 9 days and which has become an international bestseller. Unlike so many theoreticians, Frankl lived by what he preached. During his two and a half years spent in four different concentration camps, he came to realise that those who survive the terrors of life are not the physically strong or physically healthy, but those who have an internal strength, who are able to find a sense of meaning and purpose 'within' adversity. Frankl quotes Nietzsche to make this point, 'he who has a why to live for, can bear with almost any how'. Half the book is autobiograhpical, the other half outlines the basics of his theory, demonstrating once again that his life reflected his thinking and vice versa. In a world where despair and a sense of meaninglessness seem to torment us more each day, Frankl's words are more pertinent than ever.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absurdity redeemed 28 Mar 2006
By A Customer
If I said to you that this is a book about the Holocaust which made me roar with laughter I will communicate to you its unique quality.
The first half is harrowing. The account of his time in Auschwitz and Dachau. The second half is about logotherapy. On a few pages he tells a few stories that you will remember for your whole life. By a simple change in perspective he shows how the most brutal and dehumanising experiences can be reinterpreted.
The humour comes in the statement of the theory of 'paradoxical intention'. He tells the story of a man who had a terrible stutter. Never in his life had this young man been free from the problem of stuttering, except on one occasion. This was when he jumped on a bus without buying a ticket. He resolved that the only way to escape was to enlist the sympathy of the conductor by demonstrating that he was a poor stuttering boy. At the moment, when he tried to stutter, he was unable to do so. Without meaning to, he had practised paradoxical intention.
This is an amazing book. I feel it has clarified in my mind ideas I have been yearning to understand for many years.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational read 27 Jun 2005
By Darren Simons TOP 500 REVIEWER
I actually came across this book when doing a search for a Freud book on Amazon, and was interested enough to buy this book instead book. With hindsight my interest was one of the biggest cases of understatement I know.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian Jew who spent much of the Second World War in several concentration camps including Auschwitz and Dachau. Man's Search for Meaning in part details some of the experiences Frankl suffered (from the perspective of everyday life during this time), how he used his mind to help him survive, which in subsequent years formed his theory of logotherapy.
Following WW2, Frankl returned to the University of Vienna Medical School where he further developed these theories into what is now known as logotherapy (the Third Viennese school of Psychotherapy, following Freud's psychoanalysis and Adler's individual psychology).
The book itself splits into two parts. Firstly, "Experiences in a Concentration Camp" details what Frankl describes as the three stages of the prisoner's mental reaction to camp: the period following admission; when entrenched in camp routine; and following release and liberation. In this Frankl describes his mental reaction throughout his ordeals and how his will to survive kept him alive. On several occasions he notes fellow-prisoners who die almost immediately after losing their will to survive.
The second part "Logotherapy in a Nutshell" is the formalisation of these experiences by Frankl into logotherapy, and perhaps on reflection is even more significant than the first part. In reading this section of the book, the reader is able to apply Frankl's teaching to their own life and how relevant it may be to their own perspective on what the future may hold and what the meaning of life may actually be.
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