Friday, February 9, 2018

Man's Search for Meaning

Book Recommendation: Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

This wonderful book was recommended to me by my 17-year-old granddaughter, Britnye, who read it for school. My congratulations to her for reading and recommending such a serious, important work, and to her teacher for assigning it. It was first published in 1945, the year before I was born, and 12 million copies have been printed in 24 languages. Many people I mention it to have already read it…where was I? Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist living in Vienna when he was arrested by the Nazis. He could have fled to America before that, but stayed to help his elderly parents. They died in the camps, as did his first wife. He had almost completed his book on logotherapy, but it was taken from him along with everything when he was sent to Auschwitz. He survived four different concentration camps. While Freud held that man seeks pleasure and Adler that man seeks power or control, logotherapy holds that people seek meaning in their lives. Frankl recounts his time in the horror of the camps and noticed that those who gave up, who had no goal to live for, died, while many of those who did have such a goal still found meaning in life and often survived. Of course, a twist of fate could kill you in the camps anyway. I believe what Frankl says. In my books, “Advice for my Granddaughter” and its companion, “Advice for Boys,” I write that the secret of happiness is to find something you care about more than yourself, be it your family, your church, your work, rescuing dogs or people, your country or the US Marines. I think that is another way to say you must find meaning. Frankl writes that people cannot find happiness, they mush find meaning in their lives and then happiness ensues. My favorite quote in the book is, “I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” Frankl believes that much drug and alcohol addiction come about because the addicts have not found meaning in their lives. I wish more people, especially teens and young adults, would read this short volume. 

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