Man’s Search for meaning

By Viktor E. Frankl

I remember purchasing this book (when it was suggested at our book club) with no idea what to expect. I initially thought it would read like a textbook (and in a way, it did) but it was an extremely impactful read. Viktor E. Frankl (who died in 1997) tells of his and others’ experiences in the Nazi concentration camps and the psychology behind their survival

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”

Friedrich Nietzsche

I got to peek into the mind of a man who believed that any amount of suffering can be endured if you have something to look forward to. That will diminishes significantly when all hope is lost.

“Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it”

While reading this I thought to myself, how could anyone possibly endure this much suffering. Even if one endures it, how could you carry on. He talks about how having the most basic of needs taken away from you puts you in a position to realize what is truly important. Someone who isn’t getting food to eat has barely any time to think about sex. People found joy in little mercies like the delay of a death sentence at camps with no crematorium; where they would have to wait to be moved in a sick convoy if they disobeyed the rules.

“There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or you have none to lose”

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

There’s an expectation of relief for anyone who survived the Holocaust but there’s really no back to normal after that. Victims had gone so long in displeasure that they had lost the ability to feel pleased even on release. There was also resentment for those outside the camps who had gone on living their lives while they (the victims) suffered unimaginable horrors.

“…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”

Viktor E. Frankl believed that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision and not the result of camp influences alone.

I honestly wish I could fill you in on all the perspectives I gained from this book but that would make this an extremely long post. Plus, I’d really love for you to read it and share with me if/how it impacted you. I know I’ve already shared way more quotes than are legal for one post but here’s one more (that most of you already know):

“Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker”

“That which does not kill me, makes me stronger”


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Yoruba-Torontonian. Lover of music and most things tech. Avid reader, cook and writer

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