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

Viktor E Frankl
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 May 2004
A prominent Viennese psychiatrist before the war, Viktor Frankl was uniquely able to observe the way that both he and others in Auschwitz coped (or didn't) with the experience. He noticed that it was the men who comforted others and who gave away their last piece of bread who survived the longest - and who offered proof that everything can be taken away from us except the ability to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances. The sort of person the concentration camp prisoner became was the result of an inner decision and not of camp influences alone. Frankl came to believe man's deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose. This outstanding work offers us all a way to transcend suffering and find significance in the art of living.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Rider; New Ed edition (6 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844132390
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844132393
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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)

Book Description

Man's Search For Meaning is undoubtedly one of the seminal pieces of literature to emerge from World War 2: a moving account of Viktor Frankl's experiences in Auschwitz and what we can learn from them. Now in its 74th edition, it has been translated into at least 24 languages and sold over 9 million copies worldwide.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
130 of 132 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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85 of 87 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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46 of 47 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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45 of 47 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Once in a lifetime
A book that everyone should read at least once in their life - and then look to their own humanity
Published 2 days ago by Greg Stevens
2.0 out of 5 stars I could not download it onto my Kindle Fire and ...
I could not download it onto my Kindle Fire and there didn't seem to be any help desks to put it right.
Published 8 days ago by Garth A. Barber
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound and deeply moving. Everyone should read this book ...
Profound and deeply moving. Everyone should read this book.
Published 13 days ago by Carol B
4.0 out of 5 stars Unfashionable wisdom about the human condition
When you don’t want to wake the sleeping man next to you from his nightmare because the waking reality is worse, you are plainly somewhere truly terrible. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Jeremy Bevan
4.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring book
This is an excellent book which I would recommend to all readers. It outlines a valid method of finding a meaning to life founded on the importance of being a decent human being.
Published 1 month ago by Marcus
5.0 out of 5 stars A book I'll be thinking about for a long time to come
This book contained much that moved me, and I have a feeling I'll be thinking about it and coming back to it for many years. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alice Adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Very worthwhile
A truly worthwhile read. It's one of those books that start slow and reveal their potential well into the second half. Everyone should read this great piece of work.
Published 1 month ago by max zachariades
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
This is a very emotional book, it has made me cry, but very powerful! Written beautifully Victor Frankle it makes your realise about human potential and survival of the extreme! Read more
Published 1 month ago by mrs la
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Many times I feel anxious but don't know why.Might be a clear pic of the meaning of my life.Going for it.Thanks.
Published 1 month ago by Steve Qin
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful human experience
This book was recommended to me by my psychotherapist. She did me the biggest favour because the book is short, extremely challenging to read, horribly upsetting and magnificently... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kate Silverman
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