Man’s Search for Meaning
Working in law enforcement for 25 years, I have responded to traumatic events numerous times. In the aftermath of trauma, victims are emotionally and/or physically devastated. I have often found myself pondering, “How do the survivors bounce back from this?” Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, addresses and answers this very question.
Man’s Search for Meaning is considered one of the most significant works of our time. Written by an Austrian psychiatrist, WWII concentration camp survivor and creator of logotherapy, this compelling and influential book has sold millions of copies. Frankl tells of his experiences while imprisoned in concentration camps and how he survived each day by finding meaning in his life and realizing he had something to live for.
Frankl endured the splitting up of his family, witnessed his father’s death while interred in one camp, and, after his liberation, learned of the deaths of his pregnant wife, friends, and other family members. His development of the theories behind logotherapy gave meaning to Frankl’s life, and he went on to publish his work on this approach to psychotherapy that involves guiding one’s patients to recover from their personal suffering through the realization that they have a higher calling or purpose in life, often involving others.
There are examples of the boundless human spirit all around us. Prior to reading Frankl’s book, I read Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, the true story of the Khmer Rouge’s communist takeover of the Cambodian government in the 1970s, as seen through the eyes of Raami, a six-year-old girl of noble birth. I found it heart-wrenching to imagine what Raami went through as she witnessed her family members perish one by one in the killing fields. Raami survived because of her love for her parents, their love for her, and the values they instilled in her to achieve great things in her life. Her story highlights what can be...
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