Book of the Month (January) #1: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl


So this week’s post is a new* thing I’m doing with the hope of finishing one non-medical book per month. I really hope this works but looking at how busy I’m getting even in the first week of this new semester, I can’t really promise anything.

Done with IELTS – I need at least (band) 7 for every component. If you’re reading this before the 4th of February, please make dua for me!

I really wish to watch the movies ’99 Cahaya di Langit Eropa’ and ‘Omar’ – both are Indonesian movies. And read about Marco Ferrarese who wrote the book “Nazi Goreng: Young Malay Fanatic Skinheads “- who’s this man actually? ( and )

Book of the Month would be (hopefully) a monthly update on a book (as stated above – non medical) I read in that month.

So this month – it’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

Image 2

Man’s Search for Meaning was written by Viktor E. Frankl (a Nazi concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist). It was published in 1946 and when Frankl died in 1997, the book had been translated into 24 languages with over 10 million copies sold.

In 1992, Frankl wrote a preface for this book and in it he explained that he neither aimed nor expected the book to be a hit. And he sent out a great advice:

“Again and again I therefore admonish my students both in Europe and in America:
“Don’t aim at success -the more you aim at it  and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.” ”

2 Parts.

The book has two parts with the first mainly being about Frankl’s experience at the concentration camps he was detained in and a little insight into what happened immediately after he was freed. The second part is basically about his theory called Logotherapy. I had only finished the first part and am looking forward to understanding what Frankl’s Logotherapy is all about.

Viktor E. Frankl

The First Part.


Frankl quoted this person called (Friedrich Wilhelm) Nietzsche a number of times and I love those quotes! Nietzsche was a German philosopher of the late 19th century (source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Here are some quotes from Nietzsche in this book:

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

2)  “Was mich nicht umbridgt, macht mich stärker.”
That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.

Quotes from the book.

I’m already very sleepy now and I can’t really think straight (lol) so I’ll just share with you some of the most meaningful quotes (to me) from the book.

1) ..once lost, the will to survive seldom returned.

He was talking about how most of the people with him at the camp had lost their aim of living after all the hardships they were put through. Some stayed strong for a while but eventually fell into pit of lost hopes.

2) If someone now asked us of the truth of Dostoevski’s statement that flatly defines man as a being who can get used to anything, we would reply, “Yes, a man can get used to anything, but do not ask us how”

3) The most painful part of beatings is the insult which they imply

4) Suffering is omnipresent. To draw an analogy: a man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus, suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little.

5) It’s very difficult for an outsider to grasp how very little value was placed on human life in camp.

6) As soon as I told him with finality that I had made up my mind to stay with my patients, the unhappy feeling left me.

This is my favorite! I’m amazed at how he really grasped the idea of being a true doctor and was brought down to tears by his sacrifice. He had his chance to escape! To free himself from the horrible soul and physical torments that he had been subjected to. Yet he chose to stay with his patients. Isn’t this something?

7) Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.

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

I love this part too. After saying the above, he went on explaining that when in such situations he will start thinking of other things that are of more importance in his life (eg. his wife). Or he would picture himself giving a lecture to a large audience about his sufferings in the camp. I can totally relate to this although, of course, my “suffering” is nothing near his. When in difficult situations (like when exams is very near and I haven’t finished a hell lot of topics) I would imagine myself writing a blog post on how I finally managed to cover it all and pass the exam. It’s a good way of motivating yourself, really.

9) Spinoza said in his EthicsAffectus, qui passio est, desinit esse passio simulatque eius claram et distinctam formamus ideam.Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.

10) one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them.

After being released, some of his friends became grumpy and felt less sorry when they wrong others because they believe that they suffered greater than what their “victim” is now and so it’s okay. I respect how Frankl kept his values and stay true to them even after all he went through.

The Second Part.

In this part, he explains his theory (I just started reading this part so I can’t really comment much).

His theory Logotherapy is how life is a quest for meaning and he contested that “life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught“.
Quoted are the words of Harold S. Kushner.

Should you read this book?

Totally! I like the fact that he imagined himself talking to lots of people about his experience at the camp, he was freed and did just that and I’m one of the person he “has told” his story to.

If you’re an IMU student, you can borrow mine if you want – after I finish it that is.

*Inspired by


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