Book Review: Man's Search for Meaning (Victor Frankl)


What makes Man’s Search for Meaning stand out is the tools Frankl presents for us. He discusses various methods and tools that most of us would find helpful in our life-long journey to live happy. To live right. To be just to ourselves and others.

Unlike Freud, who strongly believed that the primal drive for people, our most urgent motivation, was pleasure – desire, Frankl believes that it is “meaning.”

For Frankl, meaning is not something abstract, noble, or airy; rather it is very concrete and specific to one’s life.

Now, ask yourself this question: what is the task that life asks of me that only I can do?

Take a look at your circumstances, the people that surround you, and your talent or talents. Where is that need that is calling for you?

For Viktor E. Frankl, what kept him plodding day after day was his need to re-write his Logotherapy work and present it to the world. Sadly, upon entering the concentration camp, his manuscript was taken away from him. He felt that part of him was missing. His need. His calling. He was desperate.

To me, Man’s Search for Meaning primarily deals with depression. The reason why I think that is because one of the rock-bottom places where depression leads is despair. As one might say, despair is the absence of hope.

Our search for meaning, for our calling, is simply a response for something that’s calling for you. That’s the only place where hope is born and found. For Frankl, hope is like a laughter, faith, or love. For him, it is something that we can will into being.

According to Frankl, meaning is found in three forms. First, it is found in doing or creating something. Second, meaning is found in experiencing something far greater than ourselves. Third, it is found in our attitude towards the unavoidable suffering.

In all three instances, the value of meaning is subjective. There’s no true scale to it. No one says that writing a book gives you more meaning than helping your wife wash the dishes.

Meaning can be found in the unsaid, small, and hidden. These are as important as the great acts of genius. You alone can judge.

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