A Critical Book Review of Man’s Search for Meaning
Silver Lake College
Instructor Diane Weiland
August 19, 2012
Man’s Search for Meaning, is a biography and the personal memoir of Victor Frankl’s experience in a Nazi Concentration Camp. The book was initially published in 1946 in German and was then published in 1959 in English, under the title From Death-Camp to Existentialism. Prior to World War II, Victor Frankl was a psychiatrist working in Vienna and then later was responsible for running the neurology department at a Jewish Hospital in Rothschild. In 1942 he and his family were arrested and deported. They were separated and sent to concentration camps where everyone, including his pregnant wife, eventually died from the gas chamber, typhus or starvation. Prior to his arrest, Frankl had already begun his work and research on his theory of “Logotherapy”, which links finding ones purpose and meaning of life to being able to endure and tolerate suffering. This is the theory which his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is based on.
The purpose of the book is to reveal Frankl’s theory on Logotherapy. To get his point across and to get people to buy into his theory, he tells stories of his years in several different Nazi Concentration Camps. He does not go into the horrific details but plainly states the facts of the grueling work and conditions, poor clothing and footwear, and less than adequate nutrition and water they received on a daily basis. He uses specific examples of how many times he wanted to give up, but how there was always something that kept him alive, giving him a reason to live. He often thought of his wife, whom he loved dearly. He knew she was likely dead, but just the chance that she could still be alive, gave him enough will to keep on. At times he felt her with him and this gave him the strength to not give up. He started several manuscripts...