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Of the first two means, he writes:. Logotherapy aims to compensate for our cultural obsession with external achievement by validating and celebrating the inner world of experience. So for his first two means of meaning-discovery, Frankl sees forgetting oneself as the essential ingredient that contributes to the discovery of meaning. Meaning is found when we give ourselves over to the world—to our work, our contemplation, our loved ones, etc. At various times throughout the book, Frankl muses further on the power of love in particular:. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.

By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.

Frankl holds that through our love for others we allow them to understand the potential housed within them. For him, love is a necessary key to reaching and actualizing the dormant meaning that we are capable of bringing into the world. Frankl asserts that suffering is inevitable in life, but that we can realize a profound meaning in the way we approach this truth:. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.

Show Me the Meaning of Beeiiinnngg… Human

The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even under the most difficult circumstances—to add a deeper meaning to his life. It may remain brave, dignified and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal. Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not.

Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering. He suggests that every day, we are faced with a decision: So it must be that the urge to know springs from the essential oneness of all things; from the fact that all beings and things contribute to all other beings and things. This is a thought full of wonder and meaning for those whose daily round seems so circumscribed. It implies that all parts of this world, no matter how minute, are essential to the whole.

That what we do within ourselves affects all else, not only in the human sphere, but throughout nature. The way we conduct ourselves inwardly and outwardly either assists the cosmic process or hinders it. Everyone has a kind of longing to know how things really are.

We wish to know. We have ties with this person. His welfare and ours are connected.

Viktor Frankl’s Roadmap to the Human Search for Meaning

If he is not fit, we will feel ourselves somehow diminished. What is the truth of him? He visits a doctor, let us say, and is scanned and tested in a multitude of ways and pronounced in good health. What do all these facts tell us about him? This is because the most important aspects of a human being are invisible. It is impossible to discover the actual person from appearances only, for he is a great deal more. Should we not apply the same reasoning to other areas? To birds and flowers, to the wind and the rain, to comets and suns?

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Do not these things have an inward reality behind the outward seeming? The poets feel this keenly. That is what poetry is all about. What I am trying to say is that we should leave ourselves as open, as susceptible to the inside truth as we are alert to observe and classify visible phenomena. To get the feel of things is often more important than to analyze them, to measure and to weigh them. The quest for truth is not an intellectual game.

It is a looking within and a looking without. Nothing we see outside would mean anything unless it sparked something in us. How may we know beauty, grandeur, courage, unless these qualities are within us to respond? In this sense, truth lives in us as a divine potential or, as Browning phrased it: The mystic or sage, artist or poet, expresses these glimpses, and these have the power to awaken us. We can only conclude that truth resides in the heart of the heart of all beings, great and small.

Some have unfolded more understanding of this truth. We are at the human stage of comprehension and self-expression. Birds are birds by reason of the same process. Gods are gods because they have unfolded the godlike. Hence truth-seeking has throughout the ages been linked with the idea of the path, the path of unfolding latent capacities. We are on this path leading to our flowering as human beings, whether or not we realize it.

And when we extend our view to encompass many lives or reincarnations we realize we have the time scale needed for everyone to develop his higher potential. Those who have successfully accomplished this are the great teachers and philosophers: Christ, Buddha, Zoroaster, and a host of others, among them Plato and Pythagoras. He imagined giving lectures on his very situation and his theory of logotherapy to lecture halls full of students in America.

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  • 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. And here Frankl is giving one of his many wonderful lectures after surviving the horrors of the camps: In addition to thinking constantly about reproducing his manuscripts, Frankl also endured the camps by thinking constantly of his wife who had been separated from him long ago and sent to a female camp. Even in the harshest parts of the day, exhausted, sleep-deprived, overworked, underfed, Frankl found salvation in the love that he had for his wife: I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look.

    Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise. Frankl learned that love really does conquer all. The sadistic guards could do anything they liked to him. Love was an antidote to pain.

    7 Lessons Learned From Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl (Book Review)

    I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way — an honourable way — in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfilment.

    Frankl managed this bliss despite not even being with his wife. Despite not knowing how she was enduring her own suffering. Despite not knowing if she was even alive. I did not know whether my wife was alive, and I had no means of finding out during all my prison life there was no outgoing or incoming mail ; but at that moment it ceased to matter. There was no need for me to know; nothing could touch the strength of my love, my thoughts, and the image of my beloved. Had I known then that my wife was dead, I think that I would still have given myself, undisturbed by that knowledge, to the contemplation of her image, and that my mental conversation with her would have been just as vivid and just as satisfying.


    The human body is tougher than you think. Frankl talks of the terrifying journey into the camps. How he and his fellows were stripped and shaved completely. The prisoners had everything taken away from them. They were given numbers, which were tattooed onto their skin.

    "Man's Search for Truth" by John P. Van Mater

    If you looked weak, you went straight to the gas chambers. Frankl himself was separated from his wife and would not know what became of her until after the war. Then, once in the camps, curiosity took over as you learned the extraordinary amount of punishment that the human body is capable of resisting. The medical men among us learned first of all: I had been convinced that there were certain things I just could not do: I could not sleep without this or I could not live with that or the other. The first night in Auschwitz we slept in beds which were constructed in tiers. On each tier measuring about six-and-a-half to eight feet slept nine men, directly on the boards.

    Two blankets were shared by each nine men. Who would have thought humans could actually endure hells as harsh as Auschwitz? And yet they did endure. The fact that many endured keeping in mind that the majority did not gives one overwhelming gratitude for not having to face the same situation. It also gives one overwhelming confidence in the capabilities of their own mind and body. We were unable to clean our teeth, and yet, in spite of that and a severe vitamin deficiency, we had healthier gums than ever before.

    We had to wear the same shirts for half a year, until they had lot all appearance of being shirts. For days we were unable to wash, even partially, because of frozen water pipes, and yet the sores and abrasions on hands which were dirty from work in the soil did not suppurate that is, unless there was frostbite.

    Anyone can be coerced into perpetrating evil given sufficient environmental influence. Yet this is an issue that Frankl has a problem with: In attempting this psychological presentation and a psychopathological explanation of the typical characteristics of a concentration camp inmate, I may give the impression that the human being is completely and unavoidably influenced by his surroundings. But what about human liberty? Is there no spiritual freedom in regard to behavior and reaction to any given surroundings?

    Does man have no choice of action in the face of such circumstances? Frankl argues that we are not bound to our environments.

    Viktor Frankl: A Cool Cat

    Yes, the environment can be a harsh determiner of our actions but it is not fate. We do have a choice: The experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.

    Frankl saw the lowest parts of humanity while in the camps. He saw fellow prisoners promoted to be in-camp guards turning on their fellow prisoners. He watched sadistic guards treating them as if they were lower than animals. But he also saw individuals rising up like saints 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.

    They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: You may not have a choice in your circumstances and environment. But you always have a choice in how you react to those imposed upon you. Many of us spend our lives in the desperate attempt to completely eradicate suffering, thinking like Buddha that happiness will come when suffering is gone.


    Suffering does not automatically make ones life void of meaning but can actually offer meaning: An active life serves the purpose of giving man the opportunity to realize the values in creative work, while a passive life of enjoyment affords him the opportunity to obtain fulfilment in experiencing beauty, art, or nature. But there is also purpose in that life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behavior: A creative life and a life of enjoyment are banned to him.

    But not only creativeness and enjoyment are meaningful. If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death.