Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book Review : Man's Search for Meaning

Title : Man's Search for Meaning
Author : Viktor E. Frankl
Publisher : Rider Books
ISBN : 978-1-84-604124-2

If one can  remember only one thing from this book it should be this - 'He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.'
There are plenty of self-help books that one can choose from if one so wants but there are just a few which can really be called 'life changing'. Viktor Frankl's - Man's Search for Meaning is one of those few books which have the potential of influencing a reader's perspective towards life for good. It is in fact a memoir of the author while he spent the years from 1942 to 1945 in four different camps, including Auschwitz.

In the first section of the book he recounts his time spent in the camp and how he managed to stay alive in the midst of hopelessness, desperation and death. What makes his account of the concentration camp stand apart is his evaluation of the situation through psychological perspective. He studies the impact of extremely adverse conditions on different individuals which gives him enough fodder to think about how personalities and characters are formed. Living under dehumanized circumstances, losing one's identity including one's name, working as living corpse, no contact with any loved one, no visibility of the end to that ordeal - were not ordinary conditions;  yet finding meaning in life became the only important thing in order to survive the camp. He realised that there must be some bigger purpose for living than succumbing to the situation and giving up. He believes, 'you cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you feel and do about what happens to you.' 

In the second section Frankl shares how he used the lessons that he learnt during his years 'from death-camps to existentialism' to formulate the doctrine of Logotherapy. 'It focuses on the meaning of human existence as well as on man's search for such a meaning. According to logotherapy, the striving to find a meaning in one's life is the primary motivational force in man.' Frankl actually beckons the readers to invoke the abundant power that each individual possesses to mould the way any situation is approached and is responded to. Moreover the turbulent and testing times are the ones which build strength of character and make a person triumphant personally and spiritually.

One can go over this book time and again in case accepting adverse circumstances becomes an issue. This is the reason many people who confront situations like - personal sickness, suffering, loss of a loved one, often turn to this book and find the much needed succour and perspective. 
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