Man’s Search For Meaning

A concentration camp survivor on finding meaning in life

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. He was imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II. He survived his time as a prisoner and afterwards wrote down his experiences in Auschwitz in his book Man’s Search For Meaning.

The book consists of two parts: in the first part Frankl talks about what life in a concentration camp was like and in the second part he discusses the theory he developed on finding meaning in life; logotherapy.

A lot of books have been written about World War II and concentration camps, what’s remarkable about Man’s Search For Meaning however, is that the author actually went through the experience of concentration camp life himself — and moreover found something meaningful to keep him going there. As Frankl writes in the introduction:

One of the greatest lessons Frankl teaches you in his book, is that even in the worst conditions man has the ability to find a meaning:

Below you find some of the different ways Viktor Frankl has distinguished to find meaning, starting with the most important one: love.

Frankl on love:

On the power using humor to save one’s soul:

On having a choice during suffering:

On courageous suffering:

On the importance of having a goal in one’s life:

Before going on to the second part of his book — his theory on finding meaning in life — Frankl talks about the behavior of the guards who imprisoned him and the inmates he lived with during his time in concentration camps. He then goes on to distinguish two races of men:

In the second part of his book, Frankl describes logotherapy: his theory on finding meaning in one’s life. He starts of with the reason why “meaning” to him is the most important thing a person has to look for in life:

By way of his work as a psychiatrist he explains what mental health really entails and why it demands a certain degree of tension, of stress — eustress:

After discussing the role of tension in our lives when striving for a certain meaningful goal, Frankl deliberates the one thing most of us are struggling with — the act of finding this meaning in our lives and some of the consequences of giving up the search:

Next, Frankl goes on to describe “meaning” as something personal, there is no universal meaning — there’s only your meaning, it’s unique, one of one — something only you can answer:

Following his description of the uniqueness of the meaning in our lives, Frankl philosophizes on the essence of existence and differentiates three difference ways to find meaning in life:

On finding meaning in life through love:

On finding meaning in life through suffering:

Ultimately, in Man’s Search For Meaning, Frankl takes up life’s transitoriness and the need for man to take a stand, a stand which he has the power to determine for himself.

Frankl makes a case for “a tragic optimism” in any situation that will allow him to find meaning in life and will eventually lead to something we all wish for in our lives — happiness:



Co-founder of EA Movement Facility & Basketball Camps @eliteathletesbe / Student at Fighting Monkey Research

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Olivier Goetgeluck

Co-founder of EA Movement Facility & Basketball Camps @eliteathletesbe / Student at Fighting Monkey Research