Man’s Search for Meaning
First seen in The Foundation 2019 Spring edition:
Viktor Frankl is not someone generally well known to the American people … but his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, should be. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist of Jewish descent who was sent to Auschwitz with his parents and wife in 1944. Man’s Search for Meaning is his reflection on life in the German concentration camps. Frankl observed in the camps that our primary motivation in life is to find meaning. Without it, humans ultimately lose the will to live. This search for meaning is humanity’s ultimate freedom … and responsibility. Even with all of their liberties and comforts stripped from them, Holocaust survivors could choose their attitude toward their circumstances. They could choose meaning — even in the smallest acts of compassion or resistance. Despite unthinkable suffering, Frankl observed men in the camps who chose to live with dignity, who clung to the memories of loved ones, or who focused on any tiny pocket of beauty they could find. Frankl’s work is not without controversy, but in a world that may often seem devoid of real human connection and significance, Frankl pushes us to seek and embrace the sources of meaning in our lives — to accept responsibility for our lives. In these acts, we become more fully human and find what it means to truly live.
Dr. Rebecca Johnson, PhD., Vice President of Academic Affairs, Marine Corps University
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