“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl Analysis

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Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who was a survivor of the Holocaust. He created a new way of thinking when dealing with tragedy called logotherapy. He explains what life was like during these times, and what logotherapy is, in his best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Through the loss of his parents, brother, and pregnant wife, Frankl remained optimistic during the terrible trauma of the Holocaust. He did this by finding personal meaning on this experience, which gave him the will to live through it, and for Frankl, meaning came from three possible sources: purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty.

Frankl and his fellow prisoners had to endure so much that many of us cannot even imagine. Prisoners were given one small piece of bread and maybe some watery soup a day. They had to work 20 hours each day and if you stopped working, you were beaten or even killed. Frankl was stripped of everything from his life, his job, home, family, friends, and even his personal belongings. “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. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life”. He said that it didn’t matter if we have nothing to expect from life, we can still find meaning. He also explained that everything can be stripped away from your life, but no one can take away the ability for you to choose how to view your life. ‘Everything can be taken from man but the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’ Frankl discusses how different men chose different attitudes. Some remained descent, like himself, while others chose to become pessimistic and depressed. He explains that it is “the condition or the atmosphere that forces man to make this decision but that the condition or atmosphere does not make the decision.” Everyone can decide what attitude to adopt, it is a matter of choosing to be happy and look for the better things in life or be pulled into the darkness of your surroundings.

He explains that fellow prisoners were promoted to be in-camp guards and turned on their fellow prisoners. He describes as he watched them beat their lifeless, malnourished campmates. He watched guards treating them as if they were lower than animals. Although there were those types of people that turned, he also saw individuals rising above it all: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.” You may not get to choose what happens to, that is God work, but you can choose how you see the world around you.

Frankl often thought of the things he loved about during the worse times while in the concentration camp. He illustrates this with an example of how his feelings for his wife gave him a sense of meaning: “For hours I stood hacking at the icy ground. The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved.” Frankl had plenty of reason to think pessimistic as he stood out in the field, in the freezing weather in only thin pajamas, while the guards laughed and tortured them. Instead he began thinking of the better things in life, the things he loved, while doing the hard, pointless labor the guards gave him. “As we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said… But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness.” this is another even that happened where Frankl could of that of all the bad things that were currently happening to him, but instead he thought positive of his wife to keep him going.

Humor was also something he used during the hard times. At the beginning, Frankl was stripped of his clothing, losing his manuscript of his idea of logotherapy, and shaved of all his body hair. Frankl and some of the others responded with humor: “most of us were overcome by a grim sense of humor. We knew that we had nothing to lose except our ridiculously naked lives” He explains that the joking made them slightly happier, even if it was just for a second or two. This gave them hope that they could get through and maybe survive.

When Frankl was sent to the concentration camp, his manuscript was ready to be published, but sadly it never was. While being stripped of clothes, his manuscript was taken too and destroyed. He also explains that during this time, he became ill with a life-threatening disease. Instead of completely giving up, he slowly wrote his manuscript again and pictured him giving lectures on it if he ever was freed. “When in a camp in Bavaria I fell ill with typhus fever, I jotted down on little scraps of paper many notes intended to enable me to rewrite the manuscript, should I live to the day of liberation. I am sure that this reconstruction of my lost manuscript in the dark barracks of a Bavarian concentration camp assisted me in overcoming the danger of cardiovascular collapse.”

Viktor Frankl endured unspeakable things while prisoned in the concentration camp of Autswitz. He lost his family, friends, belongings, and his manuscript, and still, he had an optimistic outlook on life. Even while guards sat and made fun of him while he worked hard in the cold or was given 1 tiny piece of bread a day, he still thought of the better things in life to get through it. Like Frankl said, everyone can be stripped of everything in your life, but you will always have the ability to choose positive or negative. People today seem to think so negative if one small thing happens, like a bad grade or they break their leg. Everyone should learn what Frankl preaches in Man’s Search for Meaning and to look for the better things in life, like a loved one, or make it into something funny.

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"Man’s Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl Analysis. (2021, Oct 19). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/mans-search-for-meaning-by-viktor-frankl-analysis/

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