How did I get this far in life without reading this book? The first section is tough reading, as Frankl describes life in concentration camps. The second section explores his philosophy of logotherapy. I have a strong interest in existentialism, and found the way he combines this thought with psychotherapy fascinating.
His idea of the existential vacuum, in which the sufferer, out of boredom mostly, feels that life is meaningless resonated with me. I have been in the vacuum many times throughout my life. I am prone to bouts of existentialist despair. The protagonist in my first novel is trapped in its depths. Is there a way out? Yes, according to Frankl.
Despite its deep subject matter, it is an uplifting book. There is meaning, even in suffering, if we are prepared to give meaning to it. We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose our attitude towards it. Suffering is an inevitable part of life, and the way a person responds to it gives meaning to his life. This reminds me of the end of The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” Through revolt of the absurd, Sisyphus gives his life meaning. We have to give our lives meaning, but how? These two books give us a lot to think about.
What is the meaning of my life? Why am I living? What am I aiming for? What do I want my life to look like? How can I find peace and meaning in suffering, day-to-day troubles, and periods when life isn’t going well? Frankl had some good advice for anyone pondering these questions.
Favourite quote from Man’s Search for Meaning: “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”