Man’s Search For Meaning, written by Viktor E. Frankl, is a gripping personal account, chronicling the struggle to survive at a Nazi concentration camp, which helped the author develop his psychotherapeutic method and logotherapy.
Summary Of The Book
On the surface, Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning is a memoir about surviving the Holocaust. On a philosophical level however, the author uses his experiences to identify psychological reactions to the terrors of a concentration camp, which were experienced by his fellow inmates. These experiences helped Frankl develop his psychotherapeutic methods, which would later help him become an important figure in the existential therapy arena.
The first part is titled, Experiences In A Concentration Camp. In this section, Frankl begins his memoir by vividly describing some of the horrific events that occurred in various concentration camps. Frankl was a neurologist and psychiatrist. As a result, he was sent to various camps to treat sick and ailing inmates. During his three years in captivity, Frankl paid particular attention to the behaviour of various inmates. From his observations, he made some significant deductions, which contributed to the humanistic movement.
Firstly, he realized that inmates who comforted others seemed to endure the trauma better and were more likely to survive. On the contrary, inmates who had become physically and psychologically overpowered by their circumstances, were most likely to die. Frankl also identified three common psychological reactions experienced by most inmates. He pointed out that upon first entering the camp, individuals experience a shock. After acclimating themselves to camp life, inmates develop an apathetic response, while only caring about the survival of their close relatives and friends. Frankl termed the final reaction as depersonalization, in which the inmate experiences bitterness and moral deformity.
In the second part titled, Logotherapy in a Nutshell, Frankl talks in detail about various aspects of logotherapy, and how the meaning of life can be obtained from such harrowing experiences.
Man’s Search For Meaning has sold more than ten million copies worldwide. It has also been translated into over 20 languages, and can be found in many influential book club lists.
About Viktor E. Frankl
Viktor Emil Frankl was an author, neurologist, and psychiatrist of Austrian descent.
Some of his other titles are Man’s Search For Ultimate Meaning, The Doctor And The Soul: From Psychotherapy To Logotherapy, and Viktor Frankl Recollections: An Autobiography.
Franklcompleted his medical training at the University of Vienna. After completing his neurology residency, he set up a practice in Vienna.
During the Holocaust, Frankl, his wife, brother, and parents were all sent to the concentration camps. There, he worked as a prisoner therapist, first as a general practitioner, and then as a psychiatrist. Frankl lost his entire family, except his sister, during the Holocaust. After the 1945 liberation, Frankl began working on Man’s Search For Meaning, while working at a Neurology clinic in Vienna. He received many honours for his contributions, including the Oskar Pfister Award and the Honorary Citizen of the City of Vienna. Later, he had remarried and had a daughter. Frankl passed away in 1997, due to heart failure.
26 Aug, 2012
Excellent, a must-read Master Piece
29 Feb, 2012
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