Victor Frankl was a Jewish German psychiatrist who was interned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. He lost his wife and family. Yet he emerged in triumph.
His story and this book have inspired many, including Steven Covey, of Seven Habits fame.
Frankl observed that many of the prisoners died when undergoing less hardship and suffering than those who survived. The survivors tended to be people who envisioned a future for themselves despite their present suffering, people who believed they had a meaning in life and did not surrender to despair.
He developed a psychological treatment method called logotherapy. According to Frankl, logotherapy is striving to find a meaning in one's life as the primary force. Frankl would help patients improve their mental health by helping them to discover meaning in their lives. .
Although Frankl calls himself an existentialist, his is not the existentialism of despair of Sartre or Camus. Frankl is a scientist who believes that a valuable method of learning is to gather empirical knowledge from experience. He wholeheartedly embraces life and believes we can make our lives rich with meaning.
There is so much wisdom in this book that I can only give you a taste. It should be available in any public library, so get a copy and read it.
"The salvation of man is through love and in love.".
"What matters is not the meaning of life in general but the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment.".
"Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. Each man is questioned by life and can only answer to life by answering for his own life, by being responsible. Responsibleness is the essence of human existence.".
focuses on several key concepts including the will to meaning.