Book Review: A Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
If you’re looking for a book that makes you be thankful for your current life, help you understand what’s important in life and force yourself to ask poignant questions of yourself, this book is it.
If you’re looking for more direct guidance and actionable steps to tell you what kind of meaning you’re looking for, this book is not it.
For me, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl was an inspiring yet confusing book on many levels.
I sought out to find a meaning for my life and my career and did not find it in this book.
In the current edition I read, the book had two main parts; part I was about Viktor’s life growing up as a Jew in Nazi Germany being imprisoned in concentration camps and the second part was on his form of psychoanalysis called Logotherapy.
Part I: Life in the Concentration Camps
Part I was written as a story and was fascinating. If you’re looking for a firsthand account of what it was like as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp in World War II, this is a stellar account. But…
Even though Part I was an interesting and engaging read, I had a hard time relating to Viktor’s experience with mine. Comparing my life to that of a prisoner in Auschwitz is comical.
Even though I could pick out nuggets of wisdom here and there, the distance between that experience and my own was simply too great. Perhaps this was due to my lack of vision and the ability to think in larger terms. I’m not sure.
I’m a logical, left-brained engineer that focuses on hard facts and truths. Part I read like an interesting story; not necessarily as a guide that made me think about my own meaning.
Part II: Logotherapy
If you’re into pie in the sky, foo foo psycho mumbo jumbo, you’ll love the second part. If you can’t tell already, I hated it. The second part was simply an explanation of what Logotherapy is and what it entailed. I got nothing from it and stopped reading a few pages in.
Perhaps Part II would fit well in a college psychology textbook but it was definitely not for me.
No. Part I was an interesting read and made me think about and appreciate my own life but did little to actually change my behavior. Part II was so highfalutin and spoke so much of psycho mumbo jumbo, it lost me.
To a layperson like myself, I’d read Part I again just for an engaging and interesting read on how life was in Nazi Germany for the Jew. But I wouldn’t use this book as a guide to search for my life’s meaning.