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Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

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Man’s Search for Meaning

By: Viktor Frankl

Reviewed by: Amirul Iqmal Bin Razlan (1523585)

Man's Search for Meaning is a book written by Viktor Frankl tells a story which emphasizing his own experiences (the writer) as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II.  Frankl spent three years as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps under Nazi rule time period. Being a witnessed and experienced suffer and horror moments, Man’s Search for Meaning explained on how the human ability to survive in such circumstances. The main goal of this book is to provide perspective and techniques for a person to use to find meaning in his or her life.

In a brief, the writer shared about how the life and experiences in the concentration camp and defines specific terms. He tells the reader that facts are presented only as they are part of man's experience, which provides the basis for understanding the psychology of individuals who face extreme suffering such as gas chamber and others. Frankl tells the story of his and others' suffering in order to provide a ‘first hand’ account of the thoughts and behaviors a person goes through when confronted with such fear. Franks also writes in a style that reflects the mindset of the individual prisoner, specifically the common and unknown person.

This brief volume which was awarded as most influence book in United States is divided into two main parts; the first, longer essay is titled “Experiences in a Concentration Camp,” the second, “Basic Concepts of Logotherapy.”. Part One constitutes Frankl's analysis of his experiences in the concentration camps, while Part Two introduces his ideas of meaning and his theory called logotherapy. The last part of the book called The Case for a Tragic Optimism were based on his lecture at Regensburg University.

During imprison, Frankl identifies three significant periods for a prisoner:

  1. following admission into the camp (shock during the initial admission phase to the camp)
  2.  when well entrenched in camp routine (learn to survive by adapt to the camp routine)
  3.  following release and liberation (reactions of disillusion, bitterness and morality)

In the first part, the writers mostly was sharing his experience on struggling (in psychological ways) by facing extreme suffering. He describe in some points on how the prisoners behave differently while working in harsh conditions such as performed hard manual labor, digging ditches and tunnels for water mains or laying railway tracks and deadly starving all time. As a psychiatrist, Frankl was primarily interested in recording the mental and emotional reactions of prisoners to their experiences.

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