Before his death in 1997, Viktor E. Frankl was a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna Medical School. He is the author of thirty-two books, the creator of the psychotherapy known as Logotherapy and survivor of the World War II concentration camps, including Auschwitz.
The book is divided into two halves. The first deals with his experiences of life in the concentration camps, and the second covers Logotherapy (in a nutshell). Dr. Frankl lost his father, mother, brother and his wife in the very camps that he managed to survive for three-years. During those three-years, not only did he lose most of his family (his sister did not die in the camps), but also he was starved, beaten, frozen and threatened with extermination on a daily basis. Throughout these horrific experiences how did he find life worth preserving? Dr. Frankl had to somehow see through the senseless suffering and find meaning in life. This is how logotherapy was born.
The following quote encapsulates the first part of the book in much better words than I can describe, “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.” In this, Dr. Frankl leads by example, because no matter what set of circumstances you are currently going through, one doubts that it could be much worse than the World War II concentration camps. If you read this with an open mind, and create plenty of affirmations along the way, it really can help you put your own problems into perspective.
The second part of the book was what really garnered my attention, and in truth I think I would have enjoyed a whole book on logotherapy, rather than the split-format of Man’s Search For Meaning. Part Two is entitled Logotherapy in a Nutshell but I think Dr. Frankl did an excellent job of crushing his form of psychotherapy into such a tiny space. I for one took the little sip offered and it has left me thirsting for more. Logotherapy focuses on the meaning of human existence as well as mans search for such a meaning. This interests me because this is all I ever think about!
Here is my Man’s Search For Meaning in a nutshell. I struggled to stay interested in the first section purely because I have read so many accounts of concentration camp life in World War II. The second part of the book was exceptional, but I would have preferred to have read an entire book on logotherapy and not just part. It was a good book but I reckon there are a lot more out there that are better, because it hasn’t really made a lasting impression on me.