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Review of “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl

Introduction

Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning was published in 1946. During World War two, he was imprisoned in Nazi detention camps, and this book recounts his experiences. The book focuses on how he found purpose even in these challenging circumstances. Frankl addresses the importance of logotherapy, which aims to assist people in discovering their life’s purpose. A person’s importance may be determined by little deeds or a larger goal. According to Frankl, a prisoner’s outlook on the future impacts his lifespan. Frankl wrote about his time at camp and how logotherapy might help individuals overcome anxiety and achieve pleasure and purpose in their lives. We will go over the physiological journey of a concentration camp prisoner, as well as the primary approaches or ideas underlying logotherapy, in the book “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

Analysis of the Three Parts of the book

The book is notable because Frankl uses his life anecdotes in Auschwitz prison camps to express the astonishing concept of how individuals may choose to recognize meaning in any condition, such as the harshest ones. He clearly describes his observations and experiences of little human transformations, instilling hope in the reader. Frankl presents his theories in three sections, using a wealth of primary and secondary evidence. “He who has a why to live can bear nearly anyhow,” Nietzsche said (Wacker, 2018). The qualitative technique adopted has easily blended his concepts via these three components, confirming Nietzsche’s words, “He who has a why to live can bear almost anyhow” (Wacker, 2018). This book brings Frankl’s own experiences, anecdotes, allusions to various experiential forerunners, passages from psychoanalytic and humanistic schools, and good figurative illustrations. The author uses many pathological words throughout the book, explaining them effectively.

The initial section describes the atrocities that each detainee in detention centers, including Frankl, who spent three years there. Frankl describes how a prisoner travels through three primary stages as an inmate in the center. As he finds their bare existence, each step modifies the convicts from their previous lives and how they develop various disorders. After being freed, convicts felt depersonalized at first, then developed substantial symptoms in a variety of ways. Frankl slowly reveals his original thoughts on these occurrences. Regardless of the fact that he has modified his rhetoric, the message is obvious: this was the most excruciating anguish anybody could imagine. I can discover the true meaning of life, love, which has become progressively depersonalized in the latest generations, and how ungrateful humanity has become for life’s minor mercies at the conclusion of the first segment.

As a reader, I can also pick up on logotherapy from the book, which the author illustrates in the second part. The significance, goals, and nature are all well-explained. The slightest differences between logotherapy and psychoanalysis are meticulously explained. Every principle of logotherapy is generously introduced by Frankl, like the existential vacuum, existential frustration, and the responsibility of survival. He also includes excellent figurative illustrations and case studies describing the therapeutic process and strategies. These might be beneficial to a new therapist. However, he fails to demonstrate how these strategies might be integrated into traditional psychotherapy. Nonetheless, his adamant demand that psychotherapy be re-humanized propels us to a new thinking and practice path.

Logotherapy is concerned with the purpose of human life and man’s search for it. Thus, according to logotherapy, man’s fundamental driving factor is his need to find meaning in his existence. This meaning is unique because it must and can be realized just by him; only then does it reach a relevance that will fulfill his desire for purpose. Man’s yearning for importance, if true, might lead to inner turmoil rather than inner serenity. Such stress, on the other hand, is important for mental health. The foundation of mental health is a certain level of tension between what one has already done and what one still needs to accomplish. Uncertainty is ingrained in the human psyche and, as a consequence, is important for mental well-being.

The book’s final section, on tragic optimism, is particularly intriguing to readers who desire to apply Logotherapy principles to themselves. Although as a trained therapist I would need to perform a more in-depth investigation, the triad of misery, humiliation, and death is well-founded. This part can also help therapists comprehend how logotherapy can help with anticipatory fears, sadness, compulsive behaviors, anger, and jobless neurosis. Frankl goes to great lengths to demonstrate how pointlessness in life may be pathogenic as well as pathological. Nevertheless, this portion is difficult to grasp; a practitioner should learn more about the ‘Tragic Triad. This book explains where and how one could uncover their ultimate mission after defending the notion of finding meaning in life; reviewing this section will most certainly give a remedy to any reader who is depressed.

Frankl ignores a particular demographic that can profit from this book because he explains how death and old age should be viewed as a repertory of all the actualized potentials, meanings realized, and ideals achieved, rather than an end of possibilities and opportunities. The author also explores how importance may be found without suffering. If hardship can be avoided, meaning can be discovered by addressing the root of that misery; if that is not feasible, meaning may be found by changing our viewpoint on the situation and revealing the genuine meaning concealed, latent in that adversity.

Psychological Phases in The Concentration Camps

During his time in detention camps, Frankl encountered the worst of humankind. Frankl has seen directly the impact that such circumstances may have on people. The detainees were deeply impacted by the recurrent indignities, terrible malnutrition, and the approaching danger of death. Many of his colleague captives lost their self-confidence while they fought for their survival. With the loss of their individuality, they also lost their all-purpose ability. Frankl’s survival was assisted by a number of factors. Pure luck, the yearning to see his family again, and his determination to let destiny run its course were the variables.

According to Frankl, an inmate goes through three psychological stages: shock in the first few days after arriving, indifference and “emotional death” once adjusted to camp life, and disenchantment with life after being released (Frankl, 1946). “Experiences in a Concentration Camp,” which takes up most of the first half of the book, examines what transpired to apathetic inmates and how Frankl avoided it.

In the first phase, an inmate would go into shock on admission to the camp; these individuals would react weirdly. The individuals will always be curious during their stay at the camps; they will also be full of humor, most of them will also lack fear while others will be in a state of reprieved delusions. In the second phase, the inmates will then be in a state of apathy; they will be in the form of disgust, always missing their loved ones, they will also have horrible feelings to the level of suffering and death. When apathy sets in, the inmates become numb to daily abuse and psychological and physical pain beatings. In the last phase or phase 3, a prisoner transitions from liberation to depersonalization. The inmates felt disconnected from their bodies, especially their feelings and thoughts as if they were observing their lives outside. Prisoners in this state always need vengeance, disillusionment, and bitterness.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Man’s Search for Meaning is a realistic description of a person’s experience as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp written by Viktor Frankl. The book emphasizes the importance of inner freedom, hope, love, beauty and responsibility found in both art and nature as tools for overcoming and enduring traumatic conditions. Through the book, I can learn several experiences that inmates go through before knowing the meaning of life. The author encountered a challenging situation while in the concentration camp during the second world war; at the end of his suffering, he appreciated the steps to the meaning of life. Through his encounter, readers can reflect on how they can also transform their life, however challenging the situation. As a reader, from the author’s experience in the concentration camp, I have learned circumstances that can lead one to failure and success. An individual who has something to live for will always survive challenging situations or hardships to achieve the goal. In contrast, that fellow who has no purpose in life will always fail because there is no motivational factor.

References

Frankl, V. E. (1946). Man’s search for meaning. Gift edition. Gift edition. Beacon.

Wacker, N. (2018). The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life OKH Journal: Anthropological Ethnography and Analysis Through the Eyes of Christian Faith, 2(2).es of Christian Faith, 2(2). Web.

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StudyKraken. "Review of “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl." December 21, 2022. https://studykraken.com/review-of-mans-search-for-meaning-by-viktor-e-frankl/.

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StudyKraken. 2022. "Review of “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl." December 21, 2022. https://studykraken.com/review-of-mans-search-for-meaning-by-viktor-e-frankl/.

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