Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
Man's Search for Meaning
by Viktor E. Frankl, Beacon, 2006
Reviewed by Allison O'Malley
Readers seeking a turn away from the
happiness movement's hedonistic orientation will cherish Viktor E.
Frankl's timeless, graceful reminder that meaning can be found in
the most miserable of conditions. Frankl, a renowned Viennese
psychiatrist, recounts his experiences in the concentration camps
with a voice that is simultaneously analytical and sentimental.
Frankl's testimony, written over the course of 9 days in 1945,
acknowledges the relativity of suffering while providing uplifting
lessons in the art of living. Originally titled From Death-Camp to
Existentialism, its current title opens the book up to a wider
audience. Man's Search for Meaning is a quick and quotable read;
you'll find yourself rehearsing passage after passage, trying to
memorize Frankl's observations so you can reproduce them at will.
Readers with an interest in psychology may enjoy the accessible
description of logotherapy, Frankl's influential existentialist
theory that is one part therapy and one part philosophy. His
insights into the mindsets of prisoners-regulating violent
impulses, making decisions when all of the decision options are
dreadful, drawing pleasure from scarcely pleasurable moments -are
particularly gripping in their relevance to life beyond the
hellholes of the Holocaust. No matter our fate, we have the
freedom-our "last freedom"-to choose how we accept it.
- Allison O'Malley is assistant professor of psychology at