'Man's Search For Meaning' by Viktor Frankl: Book Review

Viktor Frankl is often recognised for being a talented, pioneering psychologist during the 20th century. What may not be so well known, however, is that many of his works and ideas came from his own experiences as a concentration camp prisoner.
This fantastic book is split into two parts. The first section details these horrific experiences; absent of any bitterness, more of a matter-of-fact account of these events and what it often took to survive. The greatest regret that Frankl states is losing many of his manuscripts when stripped of his possessions upon arrival in Auschwitz. During his imprisonment, however, he did write down thoughts and theories using whatever materials he could find, which helped him to write this very book.

The second part describes the psychotherapy style Frankl himself invented. Known as logotherapy, this treatment aims to assist clients in finding a meaning in their lives and how to work towards it. It does not attempt to answer the ultimate question of 'What is the meaning of life?', but instead focuses on what this may mean to each individual. Logotherapy stems from Frankl's personal search, during his time at Auschwitz, as to what meaning his life had, and what the idea of survival meant to him. Having lived through such awful times, he decided to carry on his work as a psychologist to help other people find answers to the same questions, albeit in different situations. As a student of Psychology myself, I find the marriage of his experiences and the subsequent therapy developed from them extremely intriguing.

'Man's Search for Meaning' is one of the most widely-read accounts of the Holocaust in the world. You do not have to study psychology to be able to take away messages for yourself from the book. It invites the reader to think, 'What would I have done in that situation? How would I have survived? How do I 'survive' today, with all the problems I may encounter?'
Frankl's book is moving, thought-provoking and is certain to always be quoted as one of the most important books of the 20th cenutry.

Recommended for...
Students of Psychology and those with an interest in psychotherapy.