We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life-daily and hourly. Our answer must consist not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
When Man’s Search for Meaning was first published in 1959, it was hailed by Carl Rogers as “one of the outstanding contributions to psychological thought in the last fifty years.” Now, more than forty years and 4 million copies later, this tribute to hope in the face of unimaginable loss has emerged as a true classic. Man’s Search for Meaning–at once a memoir, a self-help book, and a psychology manual-is the story of psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s struggle for survival during his three years in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Yet rather than “a tale concerned with the great horrors,” Frankl focuses in on the “hard fight for existence” waged by “the great army of unknown and unrecorded.”
Viktor Frankl’s training as a psychiatrist allowed him a remarkable perspective on the psychology of survival. In these inspired pages, he asserts that the “the will to meaning” is the basic motivation for human life. This simple and yet profound statement became the basis of his psychological theory, logotherapy, and forever changed the way we understand our humanity in the face of suffering. As Nietzsche put it, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Frankl’s seminal work offers us all an avenue to greater meaning and purpose in our own lives-a way to transcend suffering and find significance in the act of living.
Viktor E. Frankl was professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna Medical School until his death in 1997. He was the founder of what has come to be called the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy (after Freud's psychoanalysis and Adler's individual psychology)—the school of logotherapy.
Born in 1905, Dr. Frankl received the degrees of Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Vienna. During World War II he spent three years at Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps.
Dr. Frankl first published in 1924 in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and has since published twenty-six books, which have been translated into nineteen languages, including Japanese and Chinese. He was a visiting professor at Harvard, Duquesne, and Southern Methodist Universities. Honorary Degrees have been conferred upon him by Loyola University in Chicago, Edgecliff College, Rockford College, and Mount Mary College, as well as by universities in Brazil and Venezuela. He was a guest lecturer at universities throughout the world and made fifty-one lecture tours throughout the United States alone. He was President of the Austrian Medical Society of Psychotherapy.
“Viktor Frankl’s timeless formula for survival. One of the classic psychiatric texts of our time, Man’s Search for Meaning is a meditation on the irreducible gift of one’s own counsel in the face of great suffering, as well as a reminder of the responsibility each of us owes in valuing the community of our humanity. There are few wiser, kinder, or more comforting challenges than Frankl’s.” —Patricia J. Williams, author of Seeing a Color-Blind Future: The Paradox of Race
“An enduring work of survival literature.” —The New York Times
“[Man’s Search for Meaning] might well be prescribed for everyone who would understand our time.” —Journal of Individual Psychology
“An inspiring document of an amazing man who was able to garner some good from an experience so abysmally bad… Highly recommended.” —Library Journal
“One of the outstanding contributions to psychological thought in the last fifty years.” —Carl R. Rogers (1959)