What is the meaning of life? A question that is more often than not is asked as a joke. It is also not the question that Dr. Victor E. Frankl attempts to answer in Man's Search for Meaning:. Now this book may not be for everyone but it is perhaps one of the most important books written in the last century. Dr Frankl explains that we spend all of our lives searching for the meaning of our own lives and how that impacts our mental health. It was first published in 1956 but is important now as there are those who now claim that the meaning of life can only be found through religion. Dr Frankl would disagree. In fact religion is only an unsatisfactory short cut.
Dr Frankl was a successful Jewish Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who was sent to a concentration camp by the Nazis. The first half of the book is about his time in that camp but it's not about the horrors.
This book does not claim to be an account of facts and events but of personal experiences, experiences which millions of prisoners have suffered time and again. It is the inside story of a concentration camp, told by one of its survivors. This tale is not concerned with the great horrors, which have already been described often enough (though less often believed), but with the multitude of small torments. In other words, it will try to answer this question: How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner.
During his time at the camp Frankl observed there were two types of people - those who's lives had meaning and those who's lives didn't.
We who walked in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They many have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way...
These were the people who's lives had meaning. There were both inmates and guards who's lives lacked meaning.
From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two--the "race" of the decent man and the "race" of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense, no group is of "pure race" --and therefore one occasionally found a decent fellow among the camp guards.
Now at this point I could make some comparisons between Republicans and Democrats, progressives and conservatives but this is a book review so I will leave that up to you.
This was an inspirational book and opened my eyes.