2012 Book 130: Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl (9/5/2012)
Reason for Reading: One of the essays in Fantasy Media in the Classroom, talked about a fusion class which combined Man’s Search for Meaning and The Lucifer Effect with science fiction books like The Invisible Man and The Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in which men choose “evil.” I thought since I’ve been reading a lot of books about men who choose “evil” that I’d try out Man’s Search for Meaning. I’ll try to fit in The Lucifer Effect soon. It gives an interesting perspective on why some people choose “good” and other choose “evil.” Frankl’s message was that people can choose to be “swine” or “saints,” but they make this choice over and over throughout their lives and their search for meaning is the motivation behind each decision.
In the first half of this fascinating little book, Frankl describes his years in the concentration camps (including Auschwitz) with the purpose of analyzing the behavior of people in extreme situations. He admits that someone who wasn’t there can’t give a very detailed or personal account, but a person who WAS there can’t give a detached account because they were emotionally involved. I think he did an excellent job of viewing the situation with detachment, considering the situation. This was a really interesting little memoir. The second half of the book introduces his theory of psychoanalysis: logotherapy. Logotherapy is focused on man’s search for meaning; in contrast to Freudian theory focusing on man’s search for pleasure and Adlerian theory focusing on man’s search for power. I think Logotherapy is the most sensible form of psychotherapy I’ve ever heard of. How can I argue that our happiness depends on our perceiving our own purpose? I admit I felt a little skepticism when he kept bringing up examples of how he’d “cured” someone after only one session–he must have been a particularly clever person to manage that so often. 😉 But that aside, I think the technique of finding meaning in a patient’s life is rather useful. 🙂