Biographical Sketch Viktor E. Frankl was born in Vienna in 1905 and lived to be 92. He was a neurologist, psychiatrist, and a professor at Vienna Medical School. Frankl founded “logotherapy” which is the existential psychotherapy focusing on the importance of meaning. He was married twice, his first wife died in 1945 and then he married Eleonore in 1947. Together they had a daughter named Gabriele. He spent 3 years in concentration camps during World War II. When he was forced into the first concentration camp in 1942 he lost a book that was very similar to “Man’s Search for Meaning” and began jotting down notes to recreate it.
When he got out of the camps he returned to Vienna. In 1946 he became the director of the Vienna Neurological Policlinic. His book “Man’s Search for Meaning” has been translated into 27 different languages and is considered one of the 10 most influential books in America. Summary Frankl was sent to 4 different concentration camps, including Auschwitz. In the first part of the book Frankl describes the horror of the concentration camps and how humiliated the people were on a daily basis. He explains that in that situation it is hard to keep a sense of meaning.
He would play out scenarios in his head just to keep sane. In the second part of the book is when Frankl coins the term “logotherapy” which focuses on the meaning of human existence and peoples search for meaning in life. He stated that during his time in these concentration camps he found that there are two races of men that exist: decent and unprincipled. He also explains that joy and suffering are actually relative concepts and that people have the capability to choose what will happen to them mentally. People in the camps would often give into death.
There was no idea as to when they would be released from these camps so a man could not envision the end goal. Finally, Frankl discusses what happens when they are actually released from the camp. Many people didn’t know how to react and it was hard to grasp having so much freedom. Discussion I agree with Frankl in regard to that of which people do have the ability to decide what will become of them mentally and spiritually. I can only imagine how hard it actually was for the prisoners to keep a sense of meaning. Frankl’s main theme in this book is that you can choose your own feelings just like he did.
Though he was in a place of seeing death every day and going through all of those awful experiences he was still able to find true meaning behind these experiences. He also shows how people can always reflect positively on things that have happened to them in the past and that the bad things that are happening currently will eventually have a purpose as to why they are happening. I think Frankl’s idea of “logotherapy” is interesting; he discusses how it may frustrate some people in the beginning because it is often hard to understand the true and hidden meaning in their life.
Also, no one can tell you what your purpose is, it is within yourself. Once a person finds this they will continue to grow. You can tell that Frankl isn’t sharing his experiences so that the readers will pity him or feel bad for him; he is sharing them so that we can grasp a greater understanding of his philosophy behind things. Interesting Segment I think one of the most interesting segments in this book was “Experiences in a Concentration Camp. ” It was interesting to see what was going through Frankl’s mind while he was examining what was going through other people’s minds during this time.
It is fascinating to see how people react to being thrown into a new environment and how the shock can completely change a person. He discusses the little amounts of food they have and how often times conversation would turn to food. Each prisoner was referred to as a number rather than an actual person and that illustrated how dehumanizing these camps actually were. I think this segment was the most interesting because I would picture myself in these scenarios Frankl was describing as I read and I felt so devastated.
I could not imagine how the people actually in that situation truly felt. I see why so many of them gave into death because the continuous abuse had to be both mentally and physically draining to go through. One of the most famous quotes from this book is “an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior. ” It can be interpreted in so many different ways and I think that is why people love that quote so much. Purpose in Life At this point in my life, after reading this book, I think I do have a greater understanding of my purpose in life as an 18 year old.
I am in school and I also work every single day. I think that it is extremely important to wake up every day in a good mood. I also think that your self-happiness should never depend on another person. Frankl talked about how in the concentration camps it was hard for people to keep a sense of meaning. I know that college and everyday life is nowhere near as hard as I image the concentration camps were but often times people do find it hard to keep a sense of meaning in their everyday lives.
Suicide is something that happens every day to average people that just felt a little over whelmed. I think if more people were to read “Man’s Search for Meaning” they might have a better understanding of how to maintain a positive outlook on life. I know that sometimes life gets stressful and lonely but Frankl is right when he says you can determine how you feel and what will happen to you. My purpose in life is to be happy and only! can make that happen.