Book Review: Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a friend.

That recommendation was essentially, "It's an awesome book. The author is German and he wrote the whole thing in about a week."

I was intrigued but really had no idea what it was about. We had just finished a discussion about Richard Branson so I figured it was a book about entrepreneurship or business... or something like that.

Nope. Not even close. And I feel kind of dumb now because the book is fairly well-known and Frankl himself is a pretty big deal.

Victor Frankl as a young physician
Victor Frankl was a German citizen and was Jewish. You can see where I'm headed with this, right?

Yep, Frankl is a concentration camp survivor and his story details many of the things he witnessed, felt and somehow managed to live through at several camps during the second world war.

Frankl, who was a physician/psychologist, or logotherapist if you're familiar with his work, has fascinating insight into the mind's role in ending life. In other words, when do you get to the point where your body just gives up.

Dealing with patience with typhoid fever and helping them cope. Watching his fellow Holocaust victims search to find a way to deal with the tragedy and horror of day to day life, the first half of the book is filled with fascinating and troubling stories about life in the camps.

The second half of the book is a little dry. I'm not going to sugar coat. This is when the psychotherapist inside Frankl comes out. The theory he favors, called logotherapy, revolves around the idea that man's primary motivating force in life is to simply find out what the purpose of his life is.

Here's Frankl speaking in the early 1970's in Toronto on this very subject if you have time for the 4-minute clip:

"We have to be idealists in a way. If we take man as he is, we make him worse. But if we take a man as should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be."

If you're looking for a good read that's fairly easy to get through (at least the first half), I'd definitely suggest checking out the book.