Title: Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
Genre: non-fiction, psychology
My rating: 4.5/5
Age: Adult, Y/A
I took the weekend off from writing after a strenuous week filled with hours and miles of running and hours and hours of work. Add in the additional stress of imposter syndrome and finishing the last class for my second degree and, yes, I needed a mini mental vacation.
But I’m back with some more book reviews for you. I’ve been reading a bit more in October; vacations provided me with extra time, although I was distracted by the beauty of Roatan, Honduras and occupied keeping an eye on my daughter on the cruise ship. I am thankful, though, for the time afforded me to read (and thus write).
Shortly, I’ll dive back into giving y’all more fiction and poetry.
On the cruise, which I realize I haven’t yet posted about (my bad), I read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. I selected this book based on a recommendation by a friend, despite the fact that I do believe I will die by traumatic asphyxia when my TBR pile finally collapses on me.
The premise drew me in: a new (at the time) psychotherapy presented by a doctor who spent years in Nazi concentration camps. And logotherapy… what is that? Presumably better than psychoanalytic theory, which I’ve always found difficult to swallow. (Yes, I realize what I did there).
Frankl spends over half the book examining the effects of the concentration camps not only on the prisoners but also the guards. He tries to stay away from any emotionally fraught scenes and, unlike the pathetic puddles I’m generally reduced to when reading anything about the Holocaust, I was able to read and interpret Frankl’s exposition through the lens of psychology, which was profound.
Why didn’t the prisoners fight back? How could the guards become such beasts? How did people survive? These are some of the questions Frankl tries to answer in Man’s Search for Meaning. He calls on personal experience and his understanding of the human psyche to present answers to some of the fundamental questions of what makes us human.
After his detailed analysis of the Holocaust, Frankl uses this experience to explain logotherapy, which, very simply, is the use of logos to explain our existence. Not, I should note, the meaning of mankind’s existence, but the meaning of each individual’s existence. His reasoning is beautifully simple, and after reading this book, on more than one occasion I’ve recalled his rationale in trying (relative to myself–not Holocaust survivors) moments of my life.
Do I recommend? Yes. Absolutely. Especially for those interested in psychology or philosophy or the human psyche. Did I agree with everything Frankl discusses? No. I don’t think there is a single book where I agree with the author on all decisions 100%. But read it and see for yourself.
Some might argue Holocaust stories are aplenty. That’s true (although I’d still recommend, regardless). I read Born Survivors earlier this year and was reduced to tears multiple times. I’m reading Night by Elie Wiesel. Holocaust literature, to me, should always have a place on our shelves.
Man’s Search for Meaning, however, is not like either of the aforementioned titles. Rather, Frankl draws on his experience to present his own type of psychotherapy.
You might have difficulty finding it. I found my copy on thriftbooks.com. You may also have luck at your local library.
Happy reading 🙂
If you’ve enjoyed this review and would like to read more, check out my Book Reviews page. I won’t be catching up on the 100s of books I’ve read, but I’m trying to write reviews on most of the books onward.
Have a book recommendation? Be it indie or trad published, feel free to reach out. As stated earlier, I will die by my TBR pile, and this is why. Recommend a book, and if I choose to read it, I’ll write a review.
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