42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
The triumph of hope over experience,
This review is from: Man's Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust (Paperback)
This book should probably be considered as three extended essays which are tied together by the common theme of Logotherapy. Logotherapy is the psychotherapeutic discipline which was produced by Viktor Frankl and which developed in the light of his experiences in concentration camps. This popular account could be considered as him 'setting out his stall' for what this approach has to offer. For those with an interest in psychotherapy generally or Logotherapy in particular, then this is going to be an important book.
The first half of the book describes his experiences in a concentration camp. He acknowledges his debt to Nietzsche, "He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how." This quotation crops up again and again in reviews of this book and it is central to understanding Frankl's perspective.
This is not a search for a single meaning, however. Frankl is more sophisticated than this. He sees the possibility of various meanings and purposes to life - which can change at different stages of life and can run concurrently too. The sense of meaning and purpose can redeem even the most abject suffering. For him, this is not idle speculation or vague theorising but is rooted in his own experience.
The second half of the book turns increasingly towards a description of Logotherapy. This is where I must express my reservations about this book. If your interest is in a first-hand description of life in a concentration camp, then I would recommend that you try Primo Levi's 'If This Is a Man' in preference to this book. If your interest is in the psychology of genocide then Robert Jay Lifton's 'The Nazi Doctors' is highly recommended.
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Initial post: 23 Jun 2012 16:10:41 BDT
Z. M. Snarey says:
I agree with you, the first half of the book is excellent but the various descriptions of Logotherapy much less so.
But maybe a psychiatrist would look at it differentlly
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