On Man’s Search for Meaning

I recently finished reading Man’s Search for Meaning – An Introduction Logotherapy – by Viktor E. Frankl.

This book serves as an introduction to Dr. Frank’s theory of logotherapy through his experience of three years within the Nazi concentration camps. This existential analysis theory is based on finding meaning to one’s existence and seizing responsibility for it. A gripping story and a very educative and enlightening read within the psychology genre.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “The prisoner passed from the first to the second phase: the phase of relative apathy, in which he achieved a kind of emotional death.”

2- “At such a moment it is not the physical pain which hurts the most (and this applies to adults as much as to punished children); it is the mental agony caused by the injustice, the unreasonableness of it all.”

3- “Apathy, the main symptom of the second phase, was a necessary mechanism of self-defense. Reality dimmed, and all efforts and all emotions were centered on one task: preserving one’s own life and that of the other fellow.”

4- “Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love an in love.”

5- “This intensification of inner life helped the prisoner find a refuge from the emptiness, desolation and spiritual poverty of his existence, by letting him escape into the past.”

6- “As the inner life of the prisoner tended to become more intense, he also experienced the beauty of art and nature as never before.”

7- “Humor was another of the soul’d weapons in the fight for self preservation.”

8- “Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.”

9- “The crowning experience of all, for the homecoming man, is the wonderful feeling that, after all he has suffered, there is nothing he need fear any more – except his God.”

10- “Logotherapy focuses rather on the future, that is to say, on the assignments and meanings to be fulfilled by the patient is his future.”

11- “What man needs is not homeostasis but what I call “neo-dynamics,” i.e., the spiritual dynamics in a polar field of tension where one pole is represented by a meaning to be fulfilled and the other pole by the man who must fulfill it.”

12- “By declaring that man is a responsible creature and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of his life is to be found in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system.”


Omar Halabieh

Man’s Search for Meaning


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