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17 March 2014

Book Review: Man's Search for Meaning


Man's Search for MeaningMan's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I so wanted to like this book more than I did.  Maybe I am too saturated with Holocaust stories because of the work I do.  Or maybe I am just in a mental place where I am not as open to these ideas.  Or maybe these ideas about how to live and be are known to me, even when they are hard to live by.

That said, I still dog-eared several pages and have these take-aways and reminders;

You can't control things.  But you can control your reaction to things.

Suffering fills the soul and the conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is big or small. Frankl says, "man's suffering is similar to the behavior of gas.  If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber."

No one has the right to do wrong, even if wrong has been done to them.

Frankl's discussion of existential despair in the second portion of the book made me wish he were alive today to comment and guide, in a time when we are busying ourselves with screens and inflated but tenuous indirect connections that boil down to very little of substance.  Of meaning.  In a day when we are more often medicated instead of being encouraged and supported while we explore and try to conquer the demons.  "A man's concern, even in his despair, over the worthwhileness of life is an existential distress but by no means a mental disease.  It may well be that interpreting the first in terms of the latter motivates a doctor to bury his patient's existential despair under a heap of tranquilizing drugs.  It is his task, rather, to pilot the patient through his existential crisis of growth and development."

But as Nietzsche said, "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how."  So off I go to post this review on Facebook and hope that it receives some likes to give my reading a book about meaning some meaning.


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