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Man's Search for Meaning Man s Search for Meaning has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival Betweenandpsychiatrist Viktor Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished Based on his own experience and the stories of his many patients, Frankl agrues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and forward with renewed purpose Frankl s theory known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos meaning holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful In the decades since its first publication, Man s Search for Meaning ahs become one of the most influential books in America it continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of livingBorn in Vienna in , Viktor E Frankl earned an MD and a PhD from the University of Vienna He published than thirty books on theoretical and clinical psychology and served as a visiting professor and lecturer at Harvard, Stanford, and elsewhere Frankl died in Harlod S Kushner is rabbi emeritus at Temple Israel in Natick, Massachusetts, and the autor of several best selling books, including When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Living a Life That Matters, and When all You ve Ever Wanted Isn t EnoughWith a new biographical Afterword by William J Winslade, a philosopher, lawyer, and psychoanalyst who teaches at the Universities of Texas and Houston After the Book of Mormon, this would be my second recommendation to anyone looking for purpose in life Here s a poignant excerpt from one of my favorite parts of the book when Frankl has been in Auschwitz and other camps for several years and doesn t know the war is only weeks away from ending He had decided to escape his camp near Dachau with a friend and was visiting some of his patients for the last time I came to my only countryman, who was almost dying, and whose life it had been my ambi After the Book of Mormon, this would be my second recommendation to anyone looking for purpose in life Here s a poignant excerpt from one of my favorite parts of the book when Frankl has been in Auschwitz and other camps for several years and doesn t know the war is only weeks away from ending He had decided to escape his camp near Dachau with a friend and was visiting some of his patients for the last time I came to my only countryman, who was almost dying, and whose life it had been my ambition to save in spite of myself, but my comrade seemed to guess that something was wrong perhaps I showed a little nervousness In a tired voice he asked me, You too, are getting out I denied it, but I found it difficult to avoid his sad look After my round I returned to him Again a hopeless look greeted me and somehow I felt it to be an accusation The unpleasant feeling that had gripped me as soon as I had told my friend I would escape with him becameintense Suddenly I decided to take fate into my own hands for once I ran out of the hut and told my friend that I could not go with him As soon as I had told him with finality that I had made up my mind to stay with my patients, the unhappy feeling left me I did not know what the following days would bring, but I had gained an inward peace that I had never experienced before I returned to the hut, sat down on the boards at my countryman s feet and tried to comfort him I found such strength and wisdom in this book strength and advice for me as a mother of six young children While potty training, bending over to clean up a handful of toys for the the thousandth time that day, scraping Play Dough off of a filthy kitchen floor on hands and knees, and preparing the fifth snack of the day for several hungry mouths directly after doing the dishes from the previous snack I find the text of this book to give profound meaning to small and simple acts of selflessness, patience, and service What a profound reminder that The immediate influence of behavior is alwayseffective than that of words I desperately needed to read this book, if only to remember to be calm and kind to my little ones so that they will pass on the favor to their own next generation Bravo to Viktor Frankl for bringing human frailty and greatness into perspective Everything can be taken from a man but one thing the last of the human freedoms to choose one s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one s own way Frankl I read this book for the first time during my senior year in high school The year prior, I had gone to Germany for spring break with some fellow classmates During the trip, we spent a day visiting a former WWII concentration camp in Dachau As one might expect, this visit had a profound effect on me I had of course read and knew about the atrocities that occurred under the Nazi regime, but to actually see the gas chambers in person is a deeply haunting and disturbing experience Perhaps for t I read this book for the first time during my senior year in high school The year prior, I had gone to Germany for spring break with some fellow classmates During the trip, we spent a day visiting a former WWII concentration camp in Dachau As one might expect, this visit had a profound effect on me I had of course read and knew about the atrocities that occurred under the Nazi regime, but to actually see the gas chambers in person is a deeply haunting and disturbing experience Perhaps for this reason, Frankl s book affected me evendeeply than it otherwise might have The book is divided into two parts The first section recounts in vivid detail Frankl s horrifying experiences as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp Frankl, a former psychiatrist, also describes his observations of other prisoners and what he felt to be the main way in which people tried to cope with the insurmountable obstacles they faced He found that those who could find meaning or purpose in their suffering were the ones who also seemed better able to find the strength to go on As I recall, Frankl personally found his purpose in the hope of someday being able to see his wife again a hope that was strong enough to get him through the daily horrors he faced.The second half of this book is devoted to the therapy he developed based on the search for meaning, which he calls logotherapy The basic premise is that those who can find meaning in their suffering are better able to cope with what would otherwise be a struggle too hard to bear As one who majored in psychology, I found this section as fascinating as the first.I have read this book at least three times now, and it is one of the few books I can say truly changed my life I am ever grateful that I have the wisdom of this book to fall back upon when needed Several years ago, at a very young age in my 20s , I became ill with a disease that left me bedridden and barely able to speak above a whisper Now 36, I am still bedridden and fighting the same battle It is Frankl s reminder to find meaning and purpose in suffering which I found in the love of my fianc and my hope of recovery that has helped me to get through each difficult day As Frankl tells us, Everything can be taken from a man but one thing the last of the human freedoms to choose one s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one s own way I highly recommend this book After I read this book, which I finished many, many years ago, I had become self critical of any future endeavours which would take up a lot of my time I would ask myself is this or will this be meaningful to me , and if the answer was no , I wouldn t do it It was this book that influenced me to consciously live as meaningful a life as possible, to place a great value on the journey and not just the destination, while knowing that meaningful doesn t always mean enjoyable Meaningful s After I read this book, which I finished many, many years ago, I had become self critical of any future endeavours which would take up a lot of my time I would ask myself is this or will this be meaningful to me , and if the answer was no , I wouldn t do it It was this book that influenced me to consciously live as meaningful a life as possible, to place a great value on the journey and not just the destination, while knowing that meaningful doesn t always mean enjoyable Meaningful should be equated with fulfilling So I studied Physics instead of Engineering I went to York U instead of U of T I went to Europe instead of immediately entering the workforce after graduation I want to recommend this book to all of my grade 12 students How is it possible to write dispassionately of life in a concentration camp in such a way as to engender great feeling in the reader This is how Frankl dealt with his experience of those terrible years The dispassionate writing makes the horrors of the camp extremely distressing,so than writing that isemotionally involved It is almost reportage The first half of the book is equal in its telling to The Diary of a Young Girl in furthering our understanding of those dreadful times.T How is it possible to write dispassionately of life in a concentration camp in such a way as to engender great feeling in the reader This is how Frankl dealt with his experience of those terrible years The dispassionate writing makes the horrors of the camp extremely distressing,so than writing that isemotionally involved It is almost reportage The first half of the book is equal in its telling to The Diary of a Young Girl in furthering our understanding of those dreadful times.There are occasional glimmers of humanity from the Germans These are so small that rather than illuminate any basic goodness, they cast further into the shadows the terror of living in a place and time where death might be a beating or a shot to the head at any moment There are also stories of the depths that some of the Jewish victims would sink to in what they would do to stay alive themselves It made me think that rather than condemn these people for becoming tools of the Nazis, what would I do faced with death or the chance to stay alive a little longer and maybe save family or friends 7 stars, golden stars for this half of the book.The second half is about Frankl s psychotherapeutic methods and lost me in boredom I did read this in its entirety but it wouldn t have spoiled the book, or my appreciation of the genius retelling and brilliant writing of the first half, if I hadn t

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