January 6, 2017

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

January 6, 2017

A top ten book. Victor Frankl is a Jewish holocaust survivor who brings us the concept of logotherapy. In a conversation with an American doctor he was asked about what logotherapy means in comparison to psychoanalysis:

“Can you tell me in one sentence what is meant by logotherapy?” he asked. “At least, what is the difference between psychoanalysis and logotherapy?”

“Yes,” I said, “but in the first place, can you tell me in one sentence what you think the essence of psychoanalysis is?”

This was his answer: “During psychoanalysis, the patient must lie down on a couch and tell you things which sometimes are very disagreeable to tell.” Whereupon I immediately retorted with the following improvisation:

“Now, in logotherapy the patient may remain sitting erect but he must hear things which sometimes are very disagreeable to hear.”

There is truth in this book. For those who want to descend in to the depths of the human will and our capacity to hope and deal with suffering in the proper way, this is a superior work on the subject. It is one of the most profound books you will ever read. The best part about it is that his ideas regarding the existential vacuum and the will to meaning were tested in the most extreme fashion as spent years in the Nazi death camps suffering along side of many who did not survive—many who died of hopelessness.

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