Perhaps the number one goal humans pursue is love, but coming in at a very close second has to be the pursuit to find meaning; to devote oneself to a purpose that validates their existence in some way. This 150-page book depicts in great detail, page after page, how this lofty goal can be attained for all humans; from the person who enjoys a six-figure salary to the homeless transient living to survive the winter.
Frankl, an acclaimed psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor, does nothing less than inspire hope and optimism as he exemplifies living a purpose-filled life while giving his readers vivid details of what it looked and felt like to be confined in one of the worst possible conditions man has been exposed to. His account of what horrid conditions he and his cohorts endured is jarring and riveting, as you can imagine, and you wonder – how on earth can someone find meaning in that? How can suffering in the worst way both mentally and physically serve a greater purpose for one’s life? Frankl makes it plainly comprehensible how such a miraculous feat can be achieved.
I found myself comparing his experience to my own. Granted, I live in the Ritz Hotel (in prison) compared to Auschwitz, but I could empathize with him when he spoke about how he would drift into deep, using comforting thoughts of his wife to mentally escape his suffering; or how he’d sneak away to be by himself, if only for half an hour, to create a moment of solitude; and especially how even the smallest things could bring a smile to his face.
Although a renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Frankl speaks as a common man who is more comfortable helping the poor than receiving prestigious awards for this world popular book. He writes in very clear language as he introduces his method of therapy (logotherapy) whereby the emphasis is on how to help clients find meaning and purpose in ANY circumstance—especially the most difficult ones. I’d always heard so much about this book and knew I wanted to read it someday to see what all the hype was about . . . now I know.