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Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Description of concentration camp rivetting and acutely observed, but psychotherapy part outdated, 8 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Man's Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust (Paperback)
Although only short, this is effectively two books in one. The first half deals with the author's intensely harrowing experiences in various concentration camps in the Second World War, while the second deals with his particular brand of psychotherapy, which was partly inspired by his earlier tragic experiences.

The description of his wartime sufferings is told with great honesty and style, and is fascinating for its relatively distanced psychological observations. One important lesson that comes out of all this is how vital it is to maintain a sense of meaning or purpose to one's life, and that this is somehow more important for survival than any physical characteristic.

The second half, where Frankl outlines his "logotherapy" theory, is interesting too. As opposed to the Freudian therapy centring on desire and pleasure, and Adlerian therapy centring on status, Frankl's theory centres on the importance of meaning and purpose, and claims that in many cases of neurosis, the cause is that a sense of meaning is lost. The theory does have useful observations, and is told with fascinating anecdotes at times, but feels very antiquated now. While trying to reinstate a sense of meaning in some mild patients with environmental difficulties is undoubtedly a useful approach, Frankl never questions whether losing a sense of meaning is a cause or symptom of more severe conditions, such as bipolar disorder.

The book is utterly worth reading for the rivetting, intensely psychological description of the holocaust, but the second psychotherapy half should probably be skimmed.
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