‘A Man’s Search for Meaning’ is a short, but truly profound book looking into the innate human spirit and how that manifests itself in our psychology. I was turned onto the book by Tony Robbins who often cites it as one of the books that has had the largest impact on his life – so I just had to check it out.
As a memoir, it delivers the haunting story of Viktor Frankl’s experiences in the Nazi Concentration Camps to which he was confined. He speaks frankly about how the people inside were treated and leaves nothing to the imagination. This shock-factor is powerful, but that isn’t what really stands out. After all – the Holocaust as a concept has traditionally been recorded in history with that shock factor making up the cornerstone. The world has heard so much about the atrocities that were inflicted, and rightly so, but that has perhaps desensitized us from such horrific accounts.
What makes this book stand out is the way that it delves into the depths of the human psyche – demonstrating how the external circumstances, over which those prisoners had no control, began to shape the mental picture they had of themselves, the guards, and the wider world in general. It speaks to a truth that what we tell ourselves is what we will become – and in so doing – that we shape our own destiny.
In the horror of the Holocaust, it raises a light to the power of the human mind – that a man can stand up out of such a situation and hold his dignity, his power, himself. That, contrary to popular belief, a person is not defined by what happens to them – but rather what they choose to believe about what happens to them.
One man’s search for meaning provides tremendous insight into how we should live our sheltered, comfortable lives. Well worth a read.