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Man's Search For Meaning

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A Search for Meaning

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl creates his personal, yet revolutional, type of therapy. He calls this therapy, logotherapy, the prefix of the word is taken from the Greek word “logos”, which denotes meaning. This derivation is chosen because logotherapy is centered on a human's primary motivation to search for the means in which he exists. To Frankl, finding meaning in life is a stronger force than any subconscious drive. He draws from his own, personal experiences in a Nazi concentration camp to create and support the definition of man’s existence.

Frankl endured an unimaginable amount of pain and suffering throughout his experiences in the concentration camp. After his possessions were stripped from him, including the manuscript in which he recorded all of his life’s work, he was sentenced to hellacious manual labor, extreme physical degradation, such as marches through sub-zero temperatures, and deprivation of food. As if it seems that Frankl had hit rock bottom, he still did not even know the status of his own wife, whether she was alive or if she had been killed when they were separated. However, throughout all this physical and mental torture, Frankl is able to keep his hopes kindled, and still care for his fellow man. This is due to his philosophy of person. Frankl establishes that the key to surviving in the horrendous conditions he was sentenced to bear upon himself, was to find a meaning in his life. Once someone has found something in their life for them to live for, there will then be present a will for that individual to live.

Finding a meaning in life is the most important thing according to Frankl, this is because searching for a meaning in life is what kept him alive. This is the core of his philosophy, and claims that it is the core of human existence. In Frankl's view, anyone can attribute anything to that something being something to be live for. Love is a commonly found and seemingly the strongest form of motivation. However someone, at the same time, may find motivation in the form of something that may seem lesser than the concept of love, such as one's profession. According to Frankl's philosophy of logotherapy, people are able to find meaning in three different ways. Firstly, one may either create a piece of work, or perform a good deed in order to better others. Secondly, they may experience something riveting and life changing or encounter someone who may change their overall outlook on life because of that one person, such as a loved one. Finally, we may find the meaning of life in our own attitudes towards situations in which are unavoidable, with no apparent positive outcome.

Love, according to Frankl, is the only way to fully understand another human being completely. You cannot be aware of the feelings, emotions, and true standpoints of another person unless you truly love them. Love becomes one of the strongest drives for human meaning. Frankl believes love is more than just a sexual drive as some psychologists make it out to be, this being based on the fact that Frankl feels no sexual attraction whilst enslaved but is still able to feel love, and human compassion. It is something that all, or at least most, humans search for, and something that many of those people consider the meaning of their lives. It is a fact that all humans need contact with other people. It was the love for his wife, among other things, that helped Frankl survive his years in the concentration camp.

Through Frankl’s view of suicide it is plain to see Frankl's view of human person. Frankl's ideals concerning suicide were that suicide is never morally correct in any case, and should never even be considered a reasonable option. He believes that all people can find some meaning in life which would prevent them from giving up all hope and ending their lives without any reasonable cause. Every human life has meaning, and therefore every human life has value. While in a concentration camp serving as a doctor to those who were ill with typhus or other



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