24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
learn from this inspirational and moving account,
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This review is from: Man's Search for Meaning (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is split into two parts: the first being Frankl's experiences in a concentration camp; the second being his explanation of logotherapy.
As a coach, I bought this book for his insights into human will as expressed in the first half. The second half surprised me, in that I was not confused by his psychiatry, but grew my understanding because of it.
The first half of the book recounts some truly appalling experiences, and yet it's amazingly inspirational because it tells of the bright light of human spirit that could not be extinguished by the camp guards. This book put a lot of things in perspective for me. The stresses and frustrations of modern day living are nothing compared to what Frankl and his fellow prisoners endured. Interestingly, it was the optimists who had the hardest time. As they held out for release at certain milestone dates and these passed, their spirit diminished, sometimes, tragically, to the point of death.
[For the business reader, Jim Collins reports the same phenomenon as something he calls the Stockdale Paradox in 'Good to Great'. Admiral Jim Stockdale spent eight years in a POW camp in Vietnam and observed that the optimists "didn't make it out". Stockdale and his wife (who he was able to exchange letters with during his imprisonment) have written a book called 'In Love And War' chronicling their experiences.]
Frankl's reflections on his experience are amazing, and his work to help others through Logotherapy is astounding. To have turned such an awful experience into such an effective form of therapy to help others shows, just as Frankl observed, that the human spirit is an incredible thing. Even from the very darkest treatment humankind can inflict on fellow human beings, some good has emerged. Whatever your religious or political views, this book is worthy reading. It doesn't preach, it doesn't get bogged down in psychiatric technicalities, it inspires.
It's message is beautifully summed up in a quote from Nietzsche that Frankl uses: "He who has a 'why' to live for can bear almost any 'how'."
Buy this book and learn one of life's most important lessons for yourself.
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Initial post: 7 Sep 2010 17:16:29 BDT
Thanks for this review - I would just clarify one point though. It is not as simple as the optimists didn't survive. He makes and illustrates the point that those who pin their hopes on something happening at a certain time - like the man who dreamt that he would be free by the 30th March - seemed to lose the will to live when that date came and went. It seemed to me that his point is that it was dangerous to get so specific - optimism as we understand it is not mentioned; it was about survival and eveything else fell away...
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