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Man's Search for Meaning Review

Essay by   •  February 18, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,305 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,490 Views

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Not too long ago, I had joined a philosophy class at ULM. The class seemed to be interesting and quite invigorating. One of the class major requirements was to write a review on Dr Frankl's book, "Man's search for meaning." At first, as most students would think, I thought "one more book to review," but later on I also thought "let's give it a fighting chance." So, I began reading the book, somewhat, a few days after it was assigned. The funny part was that the content, actually, revived some memories and intrigued my interest rather than boring me to death as I initially speculated. My grandfather is from Poland, and he was held captive during World War II by the Germans; while I was reading the book all of the memories that he shared with me about the war began popping in my head, like the mushrooms in the Amazon forest!

At first, I needed to find out who was Victor Frankl; I needed to look in depth who was this person. After numerous searches, I found out he was born in 1905 and died in 1997; he was a neurologist, psychiatrist, founder of logotherapy, and existential analysis. And most importantly, he was an Auschwitz survivor. Dr Frankl authored thirty two books that were published in no less than 29 languages. The book I was supposed to review, "Man's search for meaning" belongs to the ten most influential books in the US. Even though he is not alive today, his memory and work are remembered, honored, and praised accordingly by various institutions, philosophers, scientists, and other people alike.

"Man's search for meaning" main theme concentrates on the tortures, struggles, and the essence of existence of the prisoners in the concentration camps. Dr Frankl described in quite a bit of detail the emotional, spiritual, and physical status of the various encampments he attained during his imprisonment. The inhumane treatment, the lack of food, and the lack of relaxation were triggers for the prisoners to respond and probably survive. In fact, Dr Frankl used a very peculiar way to make it through. Except the fact that he wanted to reconstruct his scientific paper, he thought about the future as if he was living in the past, and he thought about the past as if he was living in the future. These three elements combined gave him an enormous motive to survive: each contributing in different instances of his captivity. I am not really sure if Dr Frankl studied the ancient Greek philosophers, but in my opinion he was using Aristotelian and Platonic doctrines at his own benefit. What lead me to this conclusion was his need to reconstruct the scientific document (material) and the "lost in my thoughts" approach (ideas), to soothe the conditions he faced. I believe that he used this delusion based strategy to partly avoid the brutal reality, think about his theories, and above all remain humane. As Socrates said two and a half millenniums ago, "an unexamined life is not worth of living," Dr Frankl was quite busy examining his life; whilst, he was still in touch with the "Nazi" reality and able to help others.

It is amazing how some people find strength to endure though such horrific situations; it is even more amazing to see these same people who were through such troubles in their life to come out sane and with their will for life intact. Nevertheless, not all of us are made from the same stock; as a result, not all of us under such strenuous conditions are able to excel or even make it. From what it seems, Dr Frankl was made to excel: contributing to humanity important work regarding neurology - psychiatry, logotherapy, and existential analysis. As Dr Frank said, "a man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life; he knows the why for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any how." It is important to understand the significance of being able to become conscious of any situation. Only then our inner strength will be able to be utilized to out benefit.

A quite interesting part that caught my attention was him saying, "we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: by doing a deed; by experiencing a value; and by suffering." Even though he was referring to the imprisonment conditions at that point in time, I believe that he meant the driving force behind all of our actions: our motives. People in Auschwitz that had a cause (meaning in life) usually were alive after

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