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Book: Man's Search for Meaning

December 31, 2019

This is a part of the list of read books which I maintain. See all of them. You can only find here a blob of notes from the book itself and some thoghts on them. More often than not the actual book is more useful than what you can see here.


Title: Man's Search for Meaning
Author: Viktor E. Frankl

to live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering

He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.

Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.

Then you will live to see that in the long run—in the long run, I say! Success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.

the war gave us the war of nerves and it gave us the concentration camp

In psychiatry there is a certain condition known as “delusion of reprieve.” The condemned man, immediately before his execution, gets the illusion that he might be reprieved at the very last minute.

An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.

At that moment I became intensely conscious of the fact that no dream, no matter how horrible, could be as bad as the reality of the camp which surrounded us, and to which I was about to recall him.

I had a distinct feeling that I saw the streets, the squares and the houses of my childhood with the eyes of a dead man who had come back from another world and was looking down on a ghostly city

They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom.

The salvation of man is through love and in love.

The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.

And we, the sheep, thought of two things only—how to evade the bad dogs and how to get a little food

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

the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Life is like being at the dentist. You always think that the worst is still to come, and yet it is over already.

most men in a concentration camp believed that the real opportunities of life had passed. Yet, in reality, there was an opportunity and a challenge

I became disgusted with the state of affairs which compelled me, daily and hourly, to think of only such trivial things.

Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.

Usually it began with the prisoner refusing one morning to get dressed and wash or to go out on the parade grounds. No entreaties, no blows, no threats had any effect. He just lay there, hardly moving.

He simply gave up. There he remained, lying in his own excreta, and nothing bothered him anymore.

Those who know how close the connection is between the state of mind of a man—his courage and hope, or lack of them—and the state of immunity of his body will understand that the sudden loss of hope and courage can have a deadly effect.

He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how

Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost.

No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny. No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response.

Sometimes man may be required simply to accept fate, to bear his cross.

He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe.

His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.

When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude.

he also mentioned what may have been the real reason for their deaths: giving up hope. He maintained that there should be some way of preventing possible future victims from reaching this extreme state. And it was to me that the warden pointed to give this advice.

And I quoted from Nietzsche: “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich starker.” (That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.)

I had no intention of losing hope and giving up. For no man knew what the future would bring, much less the next hour.

He did not want to die for nothing. None of us wanted that.

Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn.

The boundaries between groups overlapped and we must not try to simplify matters by saying that these men were angels and those were devils.

We had said this word so often during all the years we dreamed about it, that it had lost its meaning. Its reality did not penetrate into our consciousness; we could not grasp the fact that freedom was ours.

We had literally lost the ability to feel pleased and had to relearn it slowly.


Andrei Glingeanu

Andrei Glingeanu's notes and thoughts. You should follow him on Twitter, Instagram or contact via email. The stuff he loves to read can be found here on this site or on goodreads.