Viktor Frankl: Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning


Our inspirational book this month was written by Viktor Frankl, a man who entered the darkness and found a way back.

Viktor Frankl is known to millions of readers as a psychotherapist who has transcended his field in his search for answers to the ultimate questions of life, death, and suffering. His book Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning aims very highly indeed as it explores the sometime unconscious human desire for inspiration or revelation, and illustrates how life can offer profound meaning at every turn.

He found himself in the a position, through fate, to find time to contemplate these lofty notions since the book chronicles his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II. In it he describes his ‘psychotherapeutic’ method which involves identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome. According to Frankl, the way a prisoner trapped in those horrors imagined the future affected his longevity. The book intends to answer the question: “How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?” The first part recounts Frankl’s analysis of his experiences in the concentration camps, while the second part introduces his ideas of meaning and his theory called ‘logotherapy’.

According to many sources Man’s Search For Meaning belongs to a list of “the ten most influential books in the United States.” At the time of the Viktor Frankl’s death in 1997, the book had sold over 10 million copies and had been translated into 24 languages.

Frankl writes: “We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: ‘If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.’ This moment triggered something in Viktor Frankl and grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: the salvation of man is through love and in love.

It was an epiphany that lead him to a fundamental truth. : “What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”